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Northern Alberta Lubicon blockade removed after injunction

Not the end of the fight 'on the land or in the courts,' says First Nation spokesperson

The Canadian Press

The blockade of a Calgary energy company's access road is now down after a court injunction ordered a northern Alberta aboriginal band to remove it.

Penn West Exploration spokesman Greg Moffatt says the Lubicon First Nation's obstruction of an access road into a prospective drilling site has been removed.

Lubicon First Nations leadership says it is meeting to decide what to do next.

The protesters have been blocking the access road to Penn West's drilling site by Haig Lake since late November in an effort to stop the company from fracking on territory they consider sacred.

Moffatt says the company has worked well with the Lubicon First Nation in the past. He suggests the problems have more to do with the band's conflicted leadership and unresolved land claim.

A news release issued from the Lubicon Lake Nation says the Calgary judge sided with Penn West Exploration when granting the injunction.

The release says Penn West wanted a week-long injunction but the judge went beyond that request and granted a six-month injunction.

Land claim deal not settled

Lubicon Lake Nation spokesperson Cynthia Tomlinson said Monday it is not the end of the fight "on the land or in the courts."

The group says the protest was peaceful and is intended to stop the company from fracking on traditional Lubicon territory.

The blockade is not supported by the Lubicon Lake Band, a separate group that has elected its own chief and council and is recognized by the federal government.

The protesting band and the federal and provincial governments have been trying to work out a land claim deal since the 1980s. The province continued to issue energy leases in the area, including around Haig Lake.

Penn West and Lubicon Lake Nation Chief Bernard Ominayak's group had been engaged in discussions until last February's election of Billy Joe Laboucan as chief of the federally-recognized Lubicon band.

Moffatt said Penn West is legally obliged to deal with the recognized leadership.

He said the company had hoped the Alberta government would enforce access to the site, and that it sought the injunction because the province wasn't moving quickly enough.

Ominayak said he was disappointed.

"We as people do not have effective redress in the Canadian legal and regulatory system and it is actively being used as a tool to exterminate us in favour of natural resource development," he said.

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