Indigenous truck drivers staged a pro-pipeline rally in the tiny community of Lac La Biche, Alta, Sunday as laid-off oil and gas workers struggle to make ends meet.
Sunday’s rally, about 200 kilometres northeast of Edmonton, was billed as the first Indigenous rally in support of pipelines.
Organized by the local Region One Aboriginal Business Association, more than 30 trucks made their way around Lac La Biche and through a couple of neighbouring communities, such as Plamondon, Alta.
Family and friends gathered in the Bold Center community hall, many holding signs reading: “I love Canada oil and gas.”
ROABA held the rally to highlight what it considers Alberta’s northern Indigenous communities’ support for pipelines and opposition to Bill C-69, federal legislation that aims to change the way energy projects are approved.
Shawn McDonald, president of ROABA, believes the legislation will delay projects and add to the unemployment.
He said the association is trying to “show support for Alberta families that are really hurting right now.”
“That’s our main objective, is just to show our support.”
Robert White, from the Kikino Metis Settlement south of Lac la Biche, was one of dozens participating in the convoy. He drives a truck for a company that supplies heavy equipment to the oil patch.
“At times, we can have up to 600 employees,” he said. “And right now, we probably got about 60, which is not fair.”
He wakes up at 4:30 a.m. every morning to go to work.
“It really affects our community as a whole, like our local businesses.”
White didn’t want to speculate as to why some First Nations communities, especially in B.C., tend to oppose pipelines.
“We have to get to work, that’s the bottom line.”
The federal government paid $4.5 billion dollars in taxpayer money to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline.
But the pipeline expansion project is stalled after a federal court order cancelled its approval, ruling that the government hadn’t consulted enough with Indigenous groups.
Another protest convoy is planned for this week, starting from Red Deer, Alt., and heading to Ottawa with a projected arrival date of Feb. 19.
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Sherwood Park is a large hamlet in Alberta, Canada within Strathcona County that is recognized as an urban service area. It is located adjacent to the City of Edmonton’s eastern boundary, generally south of Highway 16 (Yellowhead Trail), west of Highway 21 and north of Highway 630 (Wye Road). Other portions of Sherwood Park extend beyond Yellowhead Trail and Wye Road, while Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) separates Refinery Row to the west from the balance of the hamlet to the east.
Sherwood Park was established in 1955 on farmland of the Smeltzer family, east of Edmonton. With a population of 70,618 in 2016, Sherwood Park has enough people to be Alberta’s seventh largest city, but technically retains the status of a hamlet. The Government of Alberta recognizes the Sherwood Park Urban Service Area as equivalent to a city.
Sherwood Park, originally named Campbelltown, was founded by John Hook Campbell and John Mitchell in 1953 when the Municipal District of Strathcona No. 83 approved their proposed development of a bedroom community east of Edmonton. The first homes within the community were marketed to the public in 1955. Canada Post intervened on the name of Campbelltown due to the existence of several other communities in Canada within the same name, so the community’s name was changed to Sherwood Park in 1956.
The Sherwood Park Urban Service Area is located in the Edmonton Capital Region along the western edge of central Strathcona County adjacent to the City of Edmonton. The majority of the community is bound by Highway 16 (Yellowhead Highway) to the north, Highway 21 to the east, Highway 630 (Wye Road) to the south, and Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) to the west. The Refinery Row portion of Sherwood Park is located across Anthony Henday Drive to the west, between Sherwood Park Freeway and Highway 16. Numerous developments fronting the south side of Wye Road, including Wye Gardens, Wye Crossing, Salisbury Village and the Estates of Sherwood Park, are also within the community. Lands north of Highway 16 and south of Township Road 534/Oldman Creek between Range Road 232 (Sherwood Drive) to the west and Highway 21 to the east are also within the Sherwood Park urban service area.