NORTH BATTLEFORD, Sask. – A Saskatchewan court has banned protesters from interfering with oil exploration work on a reserve in the west-central part of the province.
The Thunderchild First Nation asked for the injunction against some of its members who have been have been camped out on the oil exploration site for the past few weeks.
The protesters say the Sundance grounds are a sacred site and development should not be happening anywhere near them.
On Friday in Saskatoon, band lawyer Chris Boychuk said the work on the land was approved by reserve leaders as well as elders.
A Court of Queen’s Bench judge granted a temporary injunction against the protesters until Thursday, when the case will be back in court.
Band member Eldon Okanee, says contractors have ripped up bushes, placed markers near the lodge and ended up desecrating some ceremonial cloth.
Okanee says the band’s leaders should have consulted the membership about what was happening before any drilling began.
“You know, we’re very adamant about not allowing oil drilling on our sacred lands,” he says. “It can’t come at the expense of our ceremonies, our values, customs and traditions.”
But Boychuk says the band made efforts to stay away from the sacred areas.
“The chief and the council had four elders review the program, they went out to the site and they designated the sacred grounds and the seismic program specifically excludes those areas identified by the elders,” he said.