Judge Gives Protesters Third Chance to Break Camp

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July 27, 2011 by   - () Leave a Comment

A judge is giving aboriginal protesters a third chance to dismantle a camp on sacred land earmarked for an RV park in northeastern Alberta.

Justice Donald Manderscheid of Court of Queen’s Bench said Tuesday (July 26) the eight remaining protesters have 10 days to take down tents and remove vehicles from the shore of the English Bay Provincial Recreation Area, The Canadian Press reported.

If they refuse, they could be arrested for contempt of court.

Harvey Scanie told reporters he won’t be leaving and intends to be hauled away in handcuffs.

"They’re going to have to charge me," he said. "It’s my home. I’ve got no place to go."

Scanie initially stood before the judge speaking in Dene about how he wants an international court to hear the matter in his first language. He was repeatedly told to sit down.

Two previous court orders required Cold Lake First Nation and the protesters to take down the camp. The band initially agreed and, in turn, the province promised to delay development of the RV park until a judicial review of the matter could be heard in court.

But a handful of protesters remained on the site.

Ellery Lew, a lawyer representing the band, told the judge that chief and council tried but had no authority to compel the people to leave.

Manderscheid agreed the band was put in the difficult position of "going against its own people, acting as policemen."

He said he would not yet hold anyone in contempt and give them a third shot with a new court order.

Part of the order also allows three people chosen by the band to have access to the land in order to maintain a sacred fire already burning in a teepee there.

Manderscheid said elder Nancy Scanie also has permission to pick berries and gather medicinal plants on the site.

Protesters set up the camp in May to oppose development of the planned 185-site RV campground with power hookups, a boat launch, a parking lot and a playground.

The province previously acknowledged the land’s cultural significance and closed the area to the public in 2006 to do archaeological work.

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