Trina Roache
APTN National News

The province of Nova Scotia is getting ready to tap into the clean energy resources from the highest tides in the world along its coastal shores.

But the turbine power project in the Bay of Fundy has raised concerns with the Mi’Kmaq and local fishers.

Although they support green energy they say they haven’t been fully consulted.

A former minister of both energy and environment in Nova Scotia, Andrew Younger, (who is now an independent MLA) said the province has failed to consult in a meaningful way.

“Indigenous communities in Nova Scotia have been largely ignored on most energy projects,” he said. “And Tidal in particular. One of the arguments has been that, well, the Mi’kmaq and any other Indigenous communities never used the Bay of Fundy. What did they use it for? They didn’t sue the bottom of the Bay of Fundy and it’s a ridiculous argument.”

Local fisherman Darren Porter has raised flags over the Tidal power project in the Bay of Fundy.

He said that key groups have been left out of the decision making.

“We need the Mi’kmaki knowledge, traditional knowledge. We also need the local fishing knowledge if we’re going to make this the best it can be,” said Porter who is also critical on the plan to monitor to impact on fish. “They have no ability to determine the effects of this turbine, so therefore they cannot say it doesn’t have those effects. Nor can we say it does. The problem is we don’t have a way to say it.”

The first test turbine was dropped into the Bay of Fundy last November in an area called The Minas Passage. It’s a migratory route for many fish, some endangered, such as striped bass, white shark and Inner Bay of Fundy salmon.

“You’re in the most sacred, possibly piece of water in Mikmaki and you’re almost in one of the most important pieces,” said Porter.

Younger said without social license, Tidal Power could be in trouble, “If we don’t bring people along, we’re just going to have conflict after conflict that will be no different than the conflict we have over pipelines.”

“If they want their social license, the real, true one? They need to include us and make it proper,” said Porter.

Dorene Beranrd, a Mi’Kmaw water protector said the way things are being done is not working and that the consultation processes are broken.

She said all Wabanaki who  live around the Bay of Fundy need a voice in development.

For the Mi’kmaw, it’s a matter of stewardship.

“Tidal Power. T.I.D.A.L…this is what we’re talking about today. But we’re not talking about title. Who has title? We do. The rights holders have title,” said water protector Michelle Paul.

Younger predicts big export revenues should the project go through.

“If it’s for export purposes we could see a future with 300 turbines in the Bay of Fundy. I mean, that was the estimates that were going around,” he said.

Another turbine will be installed this year. The Minas Passage could create up to seven thousand megawatts of power.

Troaches@aptn.ca