MEDIA RELEASE: Indigenous Grandmothers shut out of resource development consultations: report

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New Atlantic-based report offers witness accounts of discrimination and harm against Indigenous communities by extraction projects 

(Ottawa – Unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishnaabek (original) People’s) – Resource projects in Atlantic Canada (Wolastoqiyik and Mi’kmaq territories) discriminate against and harm Indigenous women, even when negotiated through Treaty and land claim processes, according to a report released today, Wolastoqiyik and Mi’kmaq Grandmothers – Land/Water Defenders Sharing and Learning Circle: Generating Knowledge for Action Report by Dr. Sherry Pictou in collaboration with Dr. Janet Conway and PhD Candidate Angela Day, and in partnership with KAIROS Canada. The report was initiated at Mount St. Vincent University.  

These findings reflect those of Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, which was released on June 3, 2019, and digs deeper to expose the discriminatory approach to decision-making by governments, companies and Indigenous governing bodies on Indigenous women, youth and 2SLGBTQQIA people. 

According to the Grandmothers’ Report, consultation processes that concern Treaties and Title are primarily state and corporate driven and are limited to Chief and Councils as prescribed by the Indian Act. These processes often exclude grassroots Indigenous people, particularly women. Governments use these agreements as an indication of consent to mine an area or for industrial activity.  

The report further alleges that in some cases governments and corporations collude to advance development projects that undermine Indigenous self-determination and Treaty rights through various forms of coercion, including the use of state police to intimidate and physically assault Indigenous women who peacefully protect the land and Treaty rights. 

The Grandmother’s Report is a collection of stories told by Wolastoqiyik Grandmother/Defenders against the Sisson Mine in New Brunswick and Mi’kmaq Grandmothers against the Alton Gas project in Nova Scotia at the event, Indigenous Grandmothers Sharing and Learning Circle: Generating Knowledge for Action, held at the Tatamagouche Centre in Nova Scotia, January 26 to 27, 2020. 

Like the MMIWG Report’s Calls for Extractive and Development Industries, the Grandmothers’ Report urges further research on environmental approvals and granting permits for resource projects to proceed; however, the Grandmothers’ Report also calls for the restoration of ancestral governance systems that honour women’s leadership, as well as maintaining and building new allied relationships and granting personhood rights to river systems.  

The Grandmothers/Defenders’ stories give witness to how two worldviews, Indigenous and colonial, intersect and collide. According to Dr. Pictou’s report, the Indigenous worldview is often neglected, excluded from, or distorted in the media and in other forms of knowledge production practices like Environmental Assessment reports. 

Dr. Pictou is an Assistant Professor in the faculties of Law and Management and holds a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Governance at Dalhousie University. She is a Mi’kmaw woman from L’sɨtkuk (water cuts through high rocks), known as Bear River First Nation, Nova Scotia. She was an inaugural fellow at Yellowhead Institute at X University.  

Prior to the January 2020 gathering, Dr. Pictou in partnership with KAIROS, launched Mother Earth and Resource Extraction (MERE) Hub, a living digital resource hub developed for and in consultation with women land and water defenders who are at the forefront in the protection of the environment, in Canada and across the globe. The Hub supports research, advocacy, information sharing, and movement building around the subject of resource extraction and its gendered implications. Originally focused on Latin America, MERE Hub has since included Canada and Brazil. 


“More often than not, the Indigenous people fighting don’t have the money to take them to court, so they go on the land.”

A Wolastoqew Grandmother/Defender

“I was looking at my son. What if he’s wants to fish on this river? My grandkids, what if they want to fish on this river? It was emotional and heartbreaking to see what’s going on. We can’ t let this happen. I basically been growing up this way of life. Our children and grandchildren are watching us and are going to be asking us questions.”

A Mi’ maw Grandmother/Defender

“I am truly honored to have played a part in facilitating a sharing-learning circle as a way to create space for Wolastoqiyik and Mi’kmaw Grandmothers/Defenders who like many Indigenous grassroot peoples are excluded from formal consultation processes regarding resource extraction and development.  It is a report about their shared stories highlighting the impacts of resource extraction on Indigenous women and their communities as well as their vision on how to address these issues in ways that contribute to the well-being of all our relations (human and non-human) ‘All of our Relations’— M’sit No’kmaq (Mi’kmaw) and Psi-te ntolonapemok (Wolastoqiyik).” 

Dr. Sherry Pictou

“Industry and government officials too often refrain from conducting transparent consultation or obtaining consent from a wide array of members of Indigenous communities. Instead, treaties and titles are disregarded. As we have seen from coast to coast to coast and as the experiences of the Wolastoqiyik and Mi’kmaq Grandmothers make clear, Indigenous women, youth and 2SLGBTQQIA people respond by asserting Indigenous self-determination and protecting land-water. Their land defense efforts are met with injunctions; Indigenous land defenders are criminalized as public and private security forces are tasked with protecting corporate interests, a violation of Indigenous rights. As Indigenous women land defenders affirm, the federal and provincial governments’ resource development processes and practices are not just lacking but detrimental to people and the planet.”

Gabriela Jiménez, Latin America Partnerships Coordinator, KAIROS Canada


Read the reportWolastoqiyik and Mi’kmaq Grandmothers – Land/Water Defenders Sharing and Learning Circle: Generating Knowledge for Action Report 


About KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives 

KAIROS is a social justice organization that includes ten Canadian churches and religious organizations. We are Indigenous, settlers and newcomers in Canada working with people of faith or conscience all over the world for ecological justice and human rights. We deliberate on issues of common concern, advocate for social change, and join with people of faith and goodwill in action for social transformation. Learn more: KAIROS Canada website.

Media contact

Cheryl McNamara, Media Coordinator, KAIROS Canada 
416-875-0097 (mobile), 

Filed in: Media Releases


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