The Aboriginal Rights Coalition Statement in Solidarity with the People of Elsipogtog Mi’kmaq First Nation

The Aboriginal Rights Coalition Atlantic (ARC-A) is a regional coalition of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Atlantic Canadians working together towards justice with First Nations peoples through education, research, advocacy and action. ARC-A recognizes and honours First Nations land, aboriginal and treaty rights in Atlantic Canada, which are also recognized in the Canadian Constitution and have been upheld in the courts. We oppose development projects carried out without free, prior and informed consent in indigenous territory and strive to awaken Canadian society to our collective treaty and Constitutional responsibilities with First Nations people.

ARC-A stands in solidarity with the People of Elsipogtog Mi’kmaq First Nation and the grassroots Indigenous people of Wabanaki as they assert their legal Aboriginal rights and responsibilities to their traditional territory and resources by non-violently opposing shale gas exploration in Kent County, New Brunswick. We join our voices with the coalition of Mi’Kmaq, Maliseet, Passamaquoddy, Acadian and other Maritimers raising their voices to protect Mother Earth.

We are also gravely concerned by the arrest and detention of Indigenous leaders such as Warrior Chief John Levi. John Levi was taken into custody following a hearing Friday, July 5th without the opportunity for bail until Monday, July 8th, while a well-publicized solidarity event took place at the Sacred Fire today, Saturday July 6th. We have witnessed the apparent unequal application of the law to indigenous non-violent defenders as compared to their non-indigenous allies, many of whom were carrying out ceremonial activities when arrested on multiple occasions in the month of June.

We call upon the Premier of New Brunswick and his government to uphold the United Nations and Canadian legal obligations to halt these exploration activities, consult with First Nations communities, and proceed with such activities only when free, prior, and informed consent is given by First Nations communities.

July 6, 2013