TS: The often-ignored facts about Elsipogtog

SOURCE: http://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2013/11/14/the_oftenignored_facts_about_elsipogtog.html

The often-ignored facts about Elsipogtog

The majority of Canadians have been woefully under-informed about what is really going in Elsipogtog.

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Demonstrators rally against shale gas exploration in Halifax on Friday, Oct.18, 2013. The effort was in support of protesters at Elsipogtog.

Andrew Vaughan / THE CANADIAN PRESS

Demonstrators rally against shale gas exploration in Halifax on Friday, Oct.18, 2013. The effort was in support of protesters at Elsipogtog.

By: Chelsea Vowel
Published on Thu Nov 14 2013

Despite the plethora of informative articles about the ongoing struggle at Elispogtog First Nation, north of Moncton, New Brunswick, and the RCMP raid there last month, most mainstream media outlets have been underemphasizing some very important aspects of the conflict. As a result, many Canadians are focusing solely on the image of burning vehicles, and some are even going as far as to brand native protestors as terrorists.

Before engaging in a back and forth about who is more in the wrong, I suggest addressing some outstanding issues that for some reason are not treated as central to these events.

First is the issue of the way in which mainstream Canadian media so often fail to comprehensively report on indigenous issues. In their book, “Seeing Red,” Mark Anderson and Carmen Robertson researched English-language portrayals of indigenous peoples in the mainstream media since 1869. They found that media reports since that time have remained essentially the same, too often depicting natives as inferior morally, physically, mentally and historically.

What that research could not take into account, is how social media has made alternative media a viable option for a wider range of people. Thus, for those interested in this issue, there is much reportage and commentary that can be easily accessed beyond what little we’ve seen in mainstream media.

It is essential that we dig deeper, and form our opinions based on as wide a range of perspectives as possible. The majority of Canadians have been woefully under-informed about what is one of the most important outstanding issues related to the events in Elsipogtog: land and resource ownership.

In 1997, the landmark Supreme Court Decision in Delgamuukw finally clarified that even under Canadian law, Aboriginal title to most of the land within British Columbia’s provincial borders had never been extinguished. This ruling had immediate implications for other areas of the country where no treaties ceding land ownership were ever signed. One day, Canadians woke up to a legal reality in which millions of acres of land were recognized as never having been acquired by the Crown, and that elephant has been occupying our national room ever since.

Unfortunately, this glaring issue did not seem to percolate into the wider Canadian consciousness, and many people remain unaware of it. In 1999, the Supreme Court passed down another judgement confirming that the Peace and Friendship Treaties of 1760-1761 did not cede land or resources. This cannot be emphasized strongly enough: the Mi’kmaq never gave up legal rights to their land or resources. Canada does not own the land that the people of Elsipogtog are defending.

This is not conspiracy theory, or indigenous interpretation. This is Canadian law, interpreted by the Supreme Court of Canada, applying Canadian constitutional principles. Yet somehow, this most important fact is left out of most reports on Elsipogtog as though it is barely relevant.

Often misunderstood by the general public, too, is that the people of Elsipogtog have widespread support from Acadians and Anglos in the area. In fact, the majority of people living in New Brunswick support a moratorium on fracking, in direct opposition to Premier David Alward’s wholehearted embracing of shale gas exploration. Opposition to fracking is not a fringe position; it is the majority position in the Atlantic provinces and elsewhere throughout Canada.

So here you have a group of people who never gave up ownership of their land or resources, opposing widely contested shale gas exploration, which was approved by a government that does not own the land or resources, acting with the support of their non-native neighbours and being reported on by mainstream media outlets that often fail to address the substantive issues.

All of this is extremely problematic, even if you do not take into account the violence and the timing of the Oct. 17 RCMP raid.

None of these facts are changed by burning cars, by the presence or absence of rubber bullets, or by whether or not Canadians like indigenous peoples. Those attempting to paint the people of Elsipogtog as law breakers must not be allowed to ignore the wider legal context which calls into question the legitimacy of resource exploitation without consent anywhere in Canada, particularly on unceded lands.

Earlier this week, SWN Resources’ lawyer offered to withdraw a lawsuit against several community members if the company could finish exploration. Indigenous and non-Indigenous allies in the area reaffirmed their intention to stand together in defence of the land.

Today, the people of Elsipogtog and their allies stand again with their drums, their eagle feathers and their concerns for the land and for the legacy of all future generations. A line of armed RCMP officers face them, ostensibly to protect public safety as SWN Resources attempt to move exploration vehicles back into the area. Using the #Elsipogtog tag, social media has made it possible for people throughout Canada and the rest of the world to access real time information from mainstream and independent media sources as the situation develops. Many hope that this immediate scrutiny will encourage the RCMP to avoid moving in with overwhelming force once more.

Fears of renewed violence should not blind us to the underlying issues: unresolved land claims, resource development without prior and informed consent, concerns of environmental degradation and inadequate economic benefits to residents. Elsipogtog is just one area of the country coming face to face with the consequences of these problems. This is not a “native” issue; this situation impacts every single one of us living on these lands.

Chelsea Vowel (BEd, LLB) is a Métis writer and educator from Lac Ste. Anne, Alberta and currently lives in Montreal.

MFP: An Inconvenient Truth behind Blazing Police Vehicles

SOURCE: https://monctonfreepress.ca/post/24650

An Inconvenient Truth behind Blazing Police Vehicles (Moncton Free Press)

Dana Hartt
November 4, 2013

There are at least two interrelated stories in the events of October 17th in Rexton, New Brunswick: First Nations land rights and widespread opposition to hydraulic fracturing. Neither is getting the press it deserves. This article will not give the issue of hydraulic fracturing in New Brunswick the press it deserves, because, in the authors opinion, the issue was settled on October 1st, 2013, if not before. This article will, however, attempt to place the events of October 17th in Rexton in a rarely considered historical context in order to address the issue of First Nations land rights as this relates to the struggle against the shale gas industry in New Brunswick.

In much corporate-owned media, when there is not lazy disregard of historical context, there is outright institutionalized contempt for an understanding of modern colonialism and oppression of First Nations people in Canada. In coverage of past resource disputes with First Nations, we had commentators framing the discussions with a narrative that revolved around the absurdly inverted premise that First Nations people were not responsible stewards of natural resources (having responsibly stewarded this land for thousands of years before Western industrial capitalism came to nearly decimate the entire planet within the last one hundred or so).

Now, we have Rex Murphy commending every one of our recent political leaders for their gallant efforts at treating contemporary First Nations issues with “the greatest delicacy”, while utterly failing to acknowledge that Canada’s recent history is rife with examples of treaties with First Nations not being honoured, nor the apparent attempt to make that reality either unknown or irrelevant to the Canadian public. We have New Brunswick Premier David Alward alarming us with the claim that an imminent threat to public safety was behind the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s decision to raid the protest site, as well as the RCMP’s explanation of this attack as an enforcement of an injunction (that had no legal merit). We have sensationalistic images of burning police vehicles on every front page and endless repetitions of the Canadian-native-breaking-the-law narrative.

But was anyone at the protest site in Rexton actually breaking the law at any point before they were threatened and provoked by the RCMP?  Was the injunction provided to SWN Resources by the provincial court valid?

Subsection 35(1) of the Canadian Constitution Act (1982) states: “existing Aboriginal and treaty rights of the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada are hereby recognized and affirmed.” A Canadian government website says: “Under the Peace and Friendship Treaties of 1760 and 1761 in the Maritimes, the Mi’kmaq and the Maliseet signatories did not surrender rights to lands or resources.” Among others, a 1999 Supreme Court of Canada ruling (which found that a Mi’kmaq man, Donald Marshall, Jr., had the legal right to fish for eels out of season) reaffirmed that the Peace and Friendship Treaties signed in 1760 and 1761 did not entail a transfer of land from the First Nations people to the Crown. So, the treaties do not entail any ceding of land to the European settlers, and Canada has pledged to honour those treaties.

This means that all of the land that the descendents of European settlers call ‘crown land’ is actually, legally, still owned by the First Nations people, and those European settlers recognized, in these treaties, the sovereignty of the First Nations people. These are facts conveniently glossed over in the Canadian public school system, where Canadian children for generations have been given the impression that their forefathers defeated the ‘savages’, who never constituted sovereign nations, and relegated them to a few squalid reserves, with no claim to any land or resources beyond what Canada kindly decided to allow at some vague point in the distant past, and this perception is reinforced in corporate-owned media representations of Canadian disputes with First Nations as well as by the public policies of our political leaders. There is a fundamental disconnect between reality and public perception, with reality continually reaffirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada and public perception continually reaffirmed by corporate-owned media and political leaders.

It is beyond the scope of this article to recount the entire long history of Canadian governments’ (federal and provincial) disregard for treaties signed with First Nations. However, it may be helpful to review a few recent cases involving the Mi’kmaq, in order to establish that the event in Rexton is not an isolated incident but is in fact part and parcel of ongoing disregard for the Peace and Friendship Treaties on the part of Canadian governments, and therefore, is the latest event in ongoing Canadian colonialism.

The Listuguj Mi’kmaq had been subsistence fishing the Restigouche River for thousands of years. By the middle of the 20th century, with commercial fishers and upstream sport fishers claiming that Listuguj Mi’kmaq fishers were diminishing their catch, the Province of Quebec leveled the charge that the Mi’kmaq were violating provincial fishing laws and, throughout the 1970s, charged them with illegal fishing. The Listuguj Mi’kmaq asserted their treaty rights by continuing to fish to sustain their way of life and their community. On June 11th, 1981, the Quebec Provincial Police conducted raids on the Listuguj First Nations reserve. Approximately five hundred police and fisheries officers stormed the small community, beating and arresting residents and seizing boats and fishing nets under direct orders from the Quebec government. The attack on June 11th, 1981, united the community to successfully erect a blockade to hinder a second raid on June 20th.

All convictions resulting from the arrests were eventually overturned in an affirmation of the treaty rights of the Mi’kmaq of Listuguj. On May 19th, 1993, the Listuguj Mi’kmaq First Nation Government took over the management of the salmon fishery on the Restigouche River where it flows between the provinces of New Brunswick and Quebec. Culturally predisposed to understand the balance between exercising their inherent right to fish and taking responsibility for protecting the salmon stocks for future generations, they developed a fishery management plan that ultimately became the Listuguj Mi’kmaq First Nation Law on Fisheries and Fishing. In 1995, the Atlantic Salmon Federation recognized the Listuguj First Nation for overseeing the “best-managed river” in Quebec. But, in this instance, the Listuguj Mi’kmaq First Nation did more than just regulate a critical resource; they provided a model for responsible resource management by First Nations people, one that may serve New Brunswick Mi’kmaq well in the years to come.

 

In 1998, the Listuguj Mi’kmaq again asserted stewardship over their traditional territory and took a stand against unsustainable logging exploitation of it. After several denied requests to obtain logging rights from the Quebec government, the Mi’kmaq Grand Council authorized Mi’kmaq companies to harvest logs on their territory (‘crown land’) behind the Listuguj reserve. The Province of Quebec countered by pressuring the New Brunswick mill processing the harvested logs to stop accepting ‘illegal’ Listuguj logs. The Mi’kmaq then erected a blockade on a logging road associated with a Groupe de Scieries (GDS) sawmill, which they also occupied. After a negotiator was sent by the provincial government, the MGC formally claimed jurisdiction over its traditional territory. Quebec threatened to dismantle the blockade and end the occupation by force. The Mi’kmaq noted that recent Supreme Court decisions mandated that any disputes over sovereignty, land, and resource issues must be settled by negotiations and not by violence. Finally, a deal was reached that provided the Listuguj Mi’kmaq with its own sustainable lumber industry.

In 1999, under attack from European settler descendents in the fishing industry, the Mi’kmaq of Esgenoopetitj First Nation established an armed encampment on the wharf of Burnt Church, New Brunswick, in order to protect their people who were continuing to assert their treaty rights to catch lobster in the bay. In 2000, they voted to reject the federal government’s proposal that they relinquish their treaty rights in exchange for five well-equipped boats and a $2 million dollar wharf. Later that year, Department of Fisheries and Oceans officials destroyed their lobster traps in a late-night raid, as well as seizing one boat and over seven hundred traps. Several arrests were also made. The Mi’kmaq responded by erecting a blockade of a major commercial route. This was soon dismantled by force. After the blockade, attacks on First Nations fishers escalated beyond destruction and seizing of property to forcing First Nations fishers into the water by ramming their fishing boats with DFO boats.

The federal government spent roughly $15 million dollars to terrorize and demoralize the fishers of the Esgenoopetitj First Nation, not including legal costs. The crisis concluded with an Agreement in Principle that affirmed the right of the Esgenoopetitj Mi’kmaq to fish for subsistence purposes but denied their right to commercial fishing. Also, a 2002 federal report suggested that several charges be dropped and fishers be compensated for damaged/seized boats and traps, but that First Nations fishers should be permitted only to fish in season and be required to obtain a licence.

Apart from occasional claims, usually beginning with practical action when attempts through ‘proper’ channels have proved fruitless, the issue of Mi’kmaq land and resource control remains very much unsettled.

On October 1st, 2013, to very little fanfare or concern from anyone outside the most arcane circles of people who follow First Nations rights and anti-fracking protests (although, obviously it did not escape the attention of the provincial government), Chief Arren Sock announced that the Elsipogtog First Nation and the Signitog District Grand Council would be resuming stewardship of all land not privately owned in their territory. Sock said that, being “compelled to act to save our waters, lands, and animals from ruin”, the First Nations people would be “reclaiming responsibility for stewardship of all unoccupied native lands in their territory.”

This is the land not ceded by the 1760 and 1761 Peace and Friendship Treaties, land the descendents of European settlers generally refer to as ‘crown land’, comprising approximately 48% of New Brunswick. The announcement was made in Rexton, in front of the Irving compound where five SWN thumper trucks were being prevented from leaving by a blockade erected several days before.

The response from the New Brunswick government took sixteen days, but it was unambiguous.

Beyond this declaration by Chief Sock, it was almost a perfect storm for another confrontation. This article won’t even cover, except in passing, Canada’s three years of opposition to the UN’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, or our Prime Minister’s 2009 G20 statement that: “We have no history of colonialism.”  Two days prior to the events at Rexton, UN Special Reporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples James Anaya’s visit concluded (a visit the Canadian government had not been permitting him to make for about a year and a half and after three written requests), and his initial report cited what he described as a “crisis when it comes to the situation of indigenous peoples of the country.”  Then, on the day before the raid, came our Prime Minister’s Speech from the Throne, in which he paid lip service to First Nations people but made a foundational denial of their sovereignty clear with a bit of colonial utopian imagery of settlers who “forged an independent country when none would have otherwise existed.”

At the protest site, all was calm. People smiled, sang, and danced, as they had been doing for weeks, and they removed any barricades that were impeding traffic. The RCMP stopped by to give a gift of tobacco to the protesters to signify their solemn promise of peacefulness in their future negotiations.

The next morning, reports started coming out of Rexton that something was happening, although details were sketchy due to a strategic media blackout imposed by the RCMP. By now, the particulars of excessive force and suppression of media have been well documented. But there is a more fundamental issue that is only now beginning to get due attention in at least independent media. Reality check: Given what has been established regarding Mi’kmaq sovereignty and land rights, what happened in Rexton on October 17th was a violent armed incursion on the territory of another sovereign nation.

Why did it happen?  Theories abound. Considering what was said by SWN’s lawyer in the Times and Transcript article ‘Enforce Injunction: Lawyer’, subtitled ‘SWN Resources says courts and RCMP should act to curb blockade by shale gas protesters’ (that the RCMP are “aiding and abetting” the protesters), one might see this as an American company pressuring the RCMP to enforce its corporate mandate to frack New Brunswick.

Given the tight control on media during the incident (including the groundless arrest of Miles Howe of the Halifax Media Co-op), it appears to have been a deliberately engineered attempt to smear those gathered at the protest site. The author’s personal opinion is that, following so closely on Sock’s announcement, it appears to be a message that would clearly indicate to the Signitog District Grand Council what would happen if they insisted on exercising their sovereign claim over 48% of New Brunswick.

So, how do our governments feel about the First Nations sovereignty and land rights enshrined in the treaties and affirmed by both the Canadian Constitution and the Supreme Court of Canada?  One of the RCMP officers at Rexton that day expressed it quite well when he yelled: “Crown land belongs to the government, not the f*cking natives!”

Those in power, from our elected leaders to those who take orders from them, are ignorant, perhaps willfully, of the reality of present-day New Brunswick: that the descendents of European settlers are here as guests, but are treating their hosts as though they were vermin, while making the house uninhabitable.

Recent events have again ignited a debate about hydraulic fracturing, with pros lobbed at those who are against it and cons fired back at those who are for it. The pros and cons of fracking are now irrelevant in New Brunswick. The First Nations people have declared that they are resuming direct stewardship of what the descendents of European settlers term ‘crown land’. In order to engage in seismic testing and subsequent hydraulic fracturing, SWN Resources must have the consent of the First Nations people, and they most decidedly do not – and they won’t get it, because the short term benefits and long term drawbacks of a New Brunswick shale gas industry are not in the best interest of those living in New Brunswick seven generations into the future. End of debate.

Or is it?  Does the law really matter when those in the right can be so easily demonized by the colonial power and its mouthpieces in the corporate-owned media?  And, as regards the law, it didn’t seem to be too difficult for SWN to obtain from the provincial court an injunction that has no legitimacy on sovereign Mi’kmaq territory. Will the Supreme Court of Canada affirm the right of the First Nations people to assume stewardship of all land not privately owned in New Brunswick?  It appears we are going to find out, as Chief Sock announced on October 25th, 2013, that First Nations people would be taking the province to court for the right to steward their own land. In the meantime, the First Nations people will have to assume that stewardship in practical terms, which they have done in Rexton, and then we will see what comes of each individual case. One thing is clear: It is much easier for the Supreme Court’s recurrent reaffirmations of First Nations sovereignty and land rights to be ignored by our governments and public if First Nations people are seen to be engaged in violent conflicts with Canadian police.

Harsh words were spoken. Molotov cocktails were thrown. Six police vehicles were set ablaze (although, by whom we do not yet know, and may never know). When you enter their sovereign territory, pepper spray peaceful protesters (including a woman in prayer), shout inflammatory (and factually inaccurate) remarks, and point assault rifles that can fire about fifteen shots per second at women (some pregnant), children, and elders, how do expect them to react?  The intended reaction, it would seem.

It begins what could spiral into a cycle of violence, and no one wants that.

So, it behooves Premier David Alward and SWN resources to resolve the issue of shale gas extraction and First Nations opposition to it within a recognition of First Nations sovereignty and land rights, particularly their recent decision to assume direct responsibility for the stewardship of this part of Turtle Island (the First Nations name for North America). Further, it behooves the provincial government to work with the First Nations people to manage all land not privately owned in New Brunswick in such a way that management is consistent with considering seven generations ahead and not just four years. We could see the wisdom of First Nations people (making the decisions) and the scientific/technological expertise of Western culture (implementing the decisions) work together to build a sustainable future for all. Either that, or they send in armed men to threaten the weak of body, provoke the weak of temperament, and demonize the entire set of First Nations people all across Canada, again and again, as European settlers have done since they arrived.

Canadian colonialism never ended; it is an ongoing process that will not end until cultural genocide is accomplished or we decide to end it. And New Brunswick is now the focus of a growing resistance.

OKT: “Do We Need the Rule of Law to Deal with Native Protestors?”

SOURCE: http://www.oktlaw.com/blog/do-we-need-the-rule-of-law-in-new-brunswick-to-deal-with-native-protestors/

October 23, 2013 4:47 pm

By Michael McClurg

Elsipogtog First Nation is only the most recent in a long line of examples of Aboriginal communities protesting resource development on their lands without their consent, and police force being used to ‘take down’ Aboriginal protest sites.  This is not a “new” story – it has happened before. In some cases, like Oka and Ipperwash, it led to full blown public inquiries to get to the roots of why the Aboriginal protests occurred in the first place, why violence escalated, what could have been done to reduce violence, and how to avoid future conflicts.

You would think that after the Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples and the Ipperwash Inquiry Report, we would have learned a lesson or two about helpful and unhelpful ways to deal with these types of conflicts over resources, including appropriate police responses. But watching reactions to Elsipogtog, we at OKT have a strong sense of history repeating itself.

When conflicts arise about Aboriginal people protesting resource development, you often hear people talk about the “rule of law”; it has come up regularly in media reports and commentary during the current occupation and protests involving the people of Elsipogtog. The concept refers to the idea that power needs to be applied uniformly and not arbitrarily. Some people invoke this term to suggest that the Canadian authorities are not applying the rule of law to Aboriginal protesters in the same manner that they would apply them to non-Aboriginal protesters in similar circumstances.

This argument is often raised by people who support “cracking down on” or quashing (possibly through violence) protests in the same manner that the RCMP raided the occupation at Elsipogtog. This refrain has been repeated many times over the past decades, in response to Aboriginal protests in Canada such as Burnt Church, Kanesatake (Oka), Ipperwash, and Caledonia. It is a simplistic and emotional response to highly complex situations which often have deep roots in historical conflicts. It also  misrepresents the “rule of law” by suggesting that it means applying the law strictly under all circumstances regardless of context. This could not be further from the truth. Indeed, courts and other authorities have repeatedly endorsed a contextual approach to Aboriginal occupations and protests.

The Ontario Court of Appeal in Henco Industries Ltd. v. Haudenosaunee Six Nations Confederacy Council et. al. regarding charges for contempt of court for violation of an injunction spoke of the complex nature of the rule of law in the context of Aboriginal protest and occupation:

“… the rule of law has many dimensions, or in the words of the Supreme Court of Canada is ‘highly textured’… The rule of law requires a justice system that can ensure orders of the court are enforced and the process of the court is respected. Other dimensions of the rule of law, however, have a significant role in this dispute. These other dimensions include respect for minority rights, reconciliation of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal interests through negotiations, fair procedural safeguards for those subject to criminal proceedings, respect for Crown and police discretion, respect for the separation of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government and respect for Crown property rights.”

Picking up on this language two years later, the Ontario Court of Appeal in Frontenac Ventures Corporation v. Ardoch Algonquin First Nation endorsed its holding in Henco that enforcing the rule of law involves a complex balancing. It said that this balancing should be performed before an injunction is ordered in an Aboriginal protest and it emphasized the importance of negotiation in this balancing.

In other words, the rule of law is not just about issuing and strictly enforcing court orders. Upholding the rule of law involves looking at each matter contextually through the lens of the long history of relations between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in Canada. An excellent synopsis of this history and context is provided in the report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, a commission that was created in the wake of the Kanesatake (Oka) standoff. You can read the highlights of that report here.

A very helpful resource for better understanding the rule of law in the context of Aboriginal occupation/protest is the report of the Ipperwash Inquiry. The Ipperwash Inquiry was headed by the Hon. Justice Sidney B. Linden, a judge of the Ontario Court of Justice and was formed by the Government of Ontario in the aftermath of the shooting of Dudley George during the protest at Ipperwash Provincial Park. Part of the purpose of the inquiry was to consider how violence could be avoided in similar circumstances. The report that emerged from the Ipperwash Inquiry is invaluable to understanding these conflicts and the appropriate police response to them.

If you want to understand what is happening at Elsipogtog, and recommended ways to deal with a conflict like this, we highly recommend reading the Ipperwash Inquiry report, as there are many parallels and many of the final recommendations are relevant.

Here are some highlights from the Ipperwash Inquiry report that provide important context on the current events at Elsipogtog:

  • Aboriginal occupations and protests are a symptom of our collective inability to fairly resolve centuries-old tensions and conflicts between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities over the control, use, and ownership of land. Until we “design institutions or implement processes that can resolve these tensions more effectively”, protests and occupations are very likely to continue
  • Aboriginal occupations differ from other kinds of protest and occupation in part because of the long history of mistrust between the police and Aboriginal people – “Police strategy must emphasize the development of communication networks and trusting relationships with Aboriginal people before, during, and after protests”
  • The role of the police is limited to maintaining public order. It is not the role of police to resolve the underlying issue, that is the role of government and government should not duck it – “(G)overnments should not avoid their constitutional obligations to First Nations and Aboriginal people under the cloak of keeping out of police ‘operational matters’”
  • Occupations and protests over land and resources are not new: Historically both non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal communities have used occupations and protests to secure lands and resources from one another, however, non-Aboriginal people have secured much more land and resources this way than Aboriginal people have
  • Studies have shown that, despite commonly held misconceptions, Aboriginal occupations and protests over the past 50 years have been notable for their low levels of violence

It is this context that informs the “rule of law” as it pertains to Aboriginal occupation and protest. Respecting the rule of law is about more than simply charging and arresting people according to the strict letter of the written law. A nuanced and contextual approach is required. An approach that recognizes the underlying history of these protests is needed. An approach that addresses the need of governments to uphold the rule of law by meeting their legal obligations to respect Aboriginal rights is needed.

An extremely important part of the legal context at Elsipogtog is that the protests are occurring on land (and are about land) that the people of Elsipogtog never ceded title to. Aboriginal people in this part of Canada signed Peace and Friendship Treaties with the British in which they never ceded any territory. Canadian law recognizes that the occupation of land by an Aboriginal community at the time of the arrival of Crown sovereignty means that the Aboriginal community owns that land. So, the rule of law in this case would arguably dictate that the protesters have every right to be on their traditional land and that in fact, others, including the Crown and resource extraction companies, are trespassers.

In cases like Elsipogtog, injunction orders and police enforcement cannot and should not exist in a vacuum, separated from the extremely complex historical, cultural, and legal nuances of the situation. If such a simplistic approach is taken to Aboriginal protests, as some in the media would encourage, trust and the potential for negotiation and reconciliation is greatly reduced and the potential for violence and continued protest greatly increases. Those results are not consistent with upholding the rule of law. And they will not bring peace to the land …

Rabble: Everything you need to know about Elsipogtog

Everything you need to know about Elsipogtog

| October 23, 2013

A beautiful reworking of an iconic image from Elsipogtog, by Mi’kmaq artist Jayce Augustine. The original photo was taken by Oss

Though I will be writing on the events that took place on October 17, 2013 when the RCMP raided a peaceful blockade by members of the Elsipogtog Mi’kmaq First Nation, for now I just want to provide people with some already available and excellent resources on the subject. What I won’t be doing is linking to the plethora of unbelievably racist articles that are pouring out, branding the people of Elsipogtog as everything from terrorists, to puppets of environmental NGOs. These pieces already have mainstream attention, capture mainstream attitudes towards indigenous peoples, and are pretty successfully creating the official narrative.

If you want to delve deeper, or need resources with which to counter these portrayals, here you go!

If you have time for only one article, then you need to read this one, written by Martin Lukacs: “New Brunswick fracking protests are the frontline of a democratic fight.”

It does an excellent job of refocusing attention on the reason the blockade existed in the first place, and on the fact that the area in question has never been ceded to Canada, and thus is not owned by Canada. The people of Elsipogtog have been branded as law breakers, but the legality of Canadian actions in that area are completely undermined by this very central fact.

To keep us in that vein, here is an article from 2012 which discusses the fact that 67 per cent of people in New Brunswick support a moratorium on fracking. This is an intensely controversial practice and people throughout Canada and the US, native and non-native alike, stand in opposition to it. The people of Elsipogog are not on the fringe of an issue here, they are in the majority.

For a really good breakdown of the order in which things happened, Daniel Wilson provides us with, “Out of order: Indigenous protest and the rule of law“. He brings up some important issues about the public’s love affair with the ‘rule of law’ from such a distinctly one-sided perspective, which ignores the underlying illegitimacy of Canadian claims to the land in question and the unceasing violation of the ‘rule of law’ by the Crown.

This article: “Elsipogtog “Clashes” 400 years in the making”, by Dru Oja Jay, goes into good detail about some of the history of the area, and how high tensions have run between the Mi’kmaq and the Canadian government. State violence against the Mi’kmaq people has been an ongoing problem, and Elsipogtog is merely the latest in a line of such.

 flickr/flailingphantasm

Leanne Simpson, in her brilliant piece “Elsipogtog Everywhere” brings more context to the deeper issue of the land, and the way in which reconciliation cannot occur without a conversation about that land. If you need to know what deeper acts of resurgence are occurring outside of reactive blockades to deal with lack of consultation and the prioritising of corporate interests over the wishes of all people living in the area, then this article provides it. This is one of the most honest and hopeful pieces I have read on the subject, and it helped me deal with the flood of emotions I’ve been experiencing since watching this all go down on October 17th.

By the way? What the heck is fracking? Here is a video that provides a simple, clear description of the process of fracking, summarising the pros and cons: “CNN Explains: Fracking“.

Recently, a claim was made by He Who Shall Not Be Named (because the guy literally gets paid to troll, and every little mention puts more money in his bloated pocket) that the people of Elsipogtog are basically puppets of foreign environmental groups. The article “Fracking Indigenous Country” (under the donation appeal) is a very long, but detailed rebuttal of any such claims. If you were at all wondering about whether this could be true, this article does an amazing job of completely demolishing these fantasies.

Rex Murphy really put his foot in it as well. Here are two very good responses to his patronising, racist article: “Rex Murphy and the Frames of Settler Colonial War” by Corey Snelgrove, and “Dear Rex: Colonialism exists, and you’re it” by Nick Montgomery.

Jian Ghomeshi put out an audio essay on the incident, summarizing the different opinions and posing some of the important questions the public needs to be asking. He also helps you learn how to pronounce Elsipogtog!

There have been a lot of conspiracy theories going around about provocateurs and US military involvement and so on. Here is an incredibly detailed article by Gord Hill about the tactics and equipment used during the raid which should help dispel some of the most outlandish rumours without downplaying the level of violence initiated by the RCMP: “Overview of RCMP deployment against Mi’kmaq blockade, Oct 17, 2013.”

Another article by the same author questions the rumours about provocateurs setting fire to the RCMP vehicles: “Statement on Provocateurs, Informants, and the conflict in New Brunswick.” Snitch-jacketing, or labeling people as provocateurs or agents of the state is an incredibly divisive and dangerous practice and whether the rumours are spread by law enforcement or our own communities, we have to be careful.

While this next article is not about Elsipogtog, it is nonetheless a very important read. “An open letter to peaceful protestors” debunks a lot of the myths about way peaceful protest was used during the Civil Rights Movement, and clarifies the difference between peaceful, and legal. The need to be organised rather than simply reactive, is highlighted and explained. Every person wanting to be involved in any sort of protest, solidarity action or larger movement, needs to read this article and really think about what it is saying.

To wrap up, I want to thank the artists who have so quickly responded with their support of the movement.

âpihtawikosisân, Chelsea Vowel is a 34 year old Métis from the Plains Cree speaking community of Lac Ste. Anne, Alberta. She is the mother of two energetic girls and holds a BEd and an LLB from the University of Alberta. She moved to Montreal two and a half years ago, fell in love with Roller Derby and decided to stay permanently. Her passions are the Cree language, strapping on roller skates and smashing into other women, and attacking the shroud of ignorance surrounding indigenous issues in Canada. She blogs at apihtawikosisan.com

HPC: Elsipogtog Protest: We’re Only Seeing Half the Story

SOURCE: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/leanne-simpson/elsipogtog-racism_b_4139367.html

In the mid-1990s I moved to Mi’gma’gi to go to graduate school. I was expecting to learn about juvenile Atlantic salmon on the Miramichi River. I was naive and misguided. Fortunately for me, the Mi’kmaq people saw that in me and they taught me something far more profound. I did my first sweat in the homeland of Elsipogtog, in the district of Siknikt. I did solidarity work with the women of Elsipogtog, then known as Big Cove, as they struggled against imposed poverty and poor housing. One of them taught me my first song, the Mi’kmaq honour song, and I attended her Native Studies class with her as she sang it to a room full of shocked students.

I also found a much needed refuge with a Mi’kmaq family on a nearby reserve. What I learned from all of these kind people who saw me as an Nishnaabeg in a town where no one else did, was that the place I needed to be wasn’t Mi’gma’gi, but in my own Mississauga Nishnaabeg homeland. For that I am grateful.

Nearly every year I travel east to Mi’gma’gi for one reason or another. In 2010, my children and I travelled to Listuguj in the Gespe’gewa’gi district of Mi’gma’gi to witness the PhD dissertation defense of Fred Metallic. I was on Fred’s dissertation committee, and Fred had written and was about to defend his entire dissertation in Mi’gmaw (Mi’kmaq) without translation — a ground breaking achievement. Fred had also kindly invited us to his community for the defence. When some of the university professors indicated that this might be difficult given that the university was 1300 km away from the community, Fred simply insisted there was no other way.

He insisted because his dissertation was about building a different kind of relationship between his nation and Canada, between his community and the university. He wasn’t going to just talk about decolonizing the relationship, he was determined to embody it and he was determined that the university would as well. This was a Mi’kmaw dissertation on the grounds of Mi’kmaw intellectual traditions, ethics and politics.

The defense was unlike anything I have ever witnessed within the academy. The community hall was packed with representatives from band councils, the Sante Mawiomi, and probably close to 300 relatives, friends, children and supporters from other communities. The entire defense was in Mi’gmaw lead by community Elders, leaders and Knowledge Holders — the real intellectuals in this case.

There was ceremony. There was song and prayer. At the end, there was a huge feast and give away. It went on for the full day and into the night. It was one of the most moving events I have ever witnessed, and it changed me. It challenged me to be less cynical about academics and institutions because the strength and persistence of this one Mi’gmaw man and the support of his community, changed things. I honestly never thought he’d get his degree, because I knew he’d walk away rather than compromise. He had my unconditional support either way. Fred is one of the most brilliant thinkers I’ve ever met, and he was uncompromising in his insistence that the university meet him half way. I never thought an institution would.

All of these stories came flooding back to me this week as I watched the RCMP attack the non-violent anti-fracking protestors at Elsipogtog with rubber bullets, an armoured vehicle, tear gas, fists, police dogs and pepper spray. The kind of stories I learned in Mi’gmagi will never make it into the mainstream media, and most Canadians will never hear them. Instead, Canadians will hear recycled propaganda as the mainstream media blindly goes about repeating the press releases sent to them by the RCMP designed to portray Mi’kmaw protestors as violent and unruly, in order to justify their own colonial violence. The only images most Canadians will see is of the three hunting rifles, a basket full of bullets and the burning police cars, and most will be happy to draw their own conclusions based on the news – that the Mi’kmaq are angry and violent, that they have no land rights, and that they deserved to be beaten, arrested, criminalized, jailed, shamed and erased.

The story here, the real story, is virtually the same story in every Indigenous nation: Over the past several centuries we have been violently dispossessed of most of our land to make room for settlement and resource development. The very active system of settler colonialism maintains that dispossession and erases us from the consciousness of settler Canadians except in ways that is deemed acceptable and non-threatening to the state. We start out dissenting and registering our dissent through state-sanctioned mechanisms like environmental impact assessments. Our dissent is ignored. Some of us explore Canadian legal strategies, even though the courts are stacked against us. Slowly but surely we get backed into a corner where the only thing left to do is to put our bodies on the land. The response is always the same — intimidation, force, violence, media smear campaigns, criminalization, silence, talk, negotiation, “new relationships,” promises, placated resistance and then more broken promises. Then the cycle repeats itself.

This is why it is absolutely critical that our conversations about reconciliation include the land. We simply cannot build a new relationship with Canada until we can talk openly about sharing the land in a way that ensures the continuation of Indigenous cultures and lifeways for the coming generations. The dispossession of Indigenous peoples from our homelands is the root cause of every problem we face whether it is missing or murdered Indigenous women, fracking, pipelines, deforestation, mining, environmental contamination or social issues as a result of imposed poverty.

So we are faced with a choice. We can continue to show the photos of the three hunting rifles and the burnt out cop cars on every mainstream media outlet ad nauseam and paint the Mi’kmaq with every racist stereotype we know, or we can dig deeper. We can seek out the image of strong, calm Mi’kmaq women and children armed with drums and feathers and ask ourselves what would motivate mothers, grandmothers, aunties, sisters and daughters to stand up and say enough is enough. We can learn about the 400 years these people and their ancestors have spent resisting dispossession and erasure. We can learn about how they began their reconciliation process in the mid-1700s when they forged Peace and Friendship treaties. We can learn about why they chose to put their bodies on the land to protect their lands and waters against fracking because setting the willfully ignorant and racists aside, sane, intelligent people should be standing with them.

Our bodies should be on the land so that our grandchildren have something left to stand upon.

iPolitics: History comes back to haunt in New Brunswick

SOURCE: http://www.ipolitics.ca/2013/10/21/history-comes-back-to-haunt-in-new-brunswick/

By | Oct 21, 2013 6:59 pm | 0 Comments

A police vehicle is seen in Rexton, N.B. as police began enforcing an injunction to end an ongoing demonstration against shale gas exploration in eastern New Brunswick on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013. Police say at least five RCMP vehicles were destroyed after they were set ablaze and at least one shot was fired by someone other than a police officer at the site of the protest in Rexton. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Hey, Canada. We need to talk.

Specifically, we need to talk history – because too many of us don’t know about important parts of it. Without that history, it’s impossible to understand exactly what happened when the RCMP stormed First Nations protestors in Rexton, New Brunswick, last week.

First of all, let’s review what happened. In March 2010, SWN Resources Canada — a subsidiary of a Texas energy company — was granted a license to search one million hectares in New Brunswick. Since this summer, protesters — including members of the Elsipogtog (ell-see-book-toq) First Nation — have been fighting SWN’s plans to search for shale gas. To do that, they blocked access to SWN equipment.

SWN went to court to obtain an injunction against the protestors earlier this month. On Oct. 12, that injunction was extended to Oct. 21; hearings were due to be held on Oct. 18 on the possibility of extending the injunction further.

Instead, on Oct. 17, the RCMP stormed the protestors in full riot gear to enforce the injunction. Forty people were arrested, including Elsipogtog Chief Arren Sock. Protestors reported that the RCMP pepper-sprayed elders and fired rubber bullets. One protestor was so badly injured that he risks losing his leg.

That’s the recent history. Now, let’s go back a little further.

The government’s relationship with First Nations in New Brunswick is governed in part by the Peace and Friendship Treaties of 1760-1761. Those treaties aren’t just historical documents: The promises contained in them are protected by Section 35 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The contents of those treaties are extremely important to understanding the Rexton protests.

Unlike later treaties signed with other First Nations in Canada, the Peace and Friendship treaties did not surrender First Nations’ rights to their land. As a result, the Mi’kmaq and Maliseet First Nations continue to claim title to their traditional territory — including the land on which the blockade occurred.

Title to the land is an issue, then. But even in cases where First Nations haven’t proved they have title to disputed land, the government still has a duty to consult with them and accommodate their interests. Elsipogtog protesters have maintained that the New Brunswick government hasn’t adequately consulted with them over SWN’s search for shale gas.

Too many Canadians don’t know this context; without it, the Rexton protests are much harder to understand. The protestors have demonstrated such persistence — and such frustration — because this looks like just one more example of the government failing to meet its duties to First Nations people. These protests aren’t just about fracking or a lower court injunction; they’re about the most basic agreements on which our country was founded, the most fundamental laws of our country.

Frustration at the government’s failure to uphold its own laws isn’t limited to New Brunswick. This past weekend, the Alberta government decided to stay the course on its decision to keep two First Nations groups out of consultations regarding a new oilsands proposal. Métis Local 1935 and the Fort McKay First Nation both filed statements of concern about a proposal for a 6,000-barrel-per-day oilsands project 20 kilometres from a Fort McKay reserve, but have been excluded from hearings.

A judge from Alberta’s Court of Queen’s Bench encouraged the government to widen its consultation process. But why would the Alberta government let a petty thing like the law get in the way of oilsands development?

That’s not to mention the still-unresolved frustrations that launched Idle No More in December of last year, including the lack of consultation by the federal government on important decisions, the terrible housing conditions on too many reserves, and Ottawa’s continued refusal to hold a full national inquiry on missing and murdered indigenous women.

Our federal government has established a pattern of ignoring its obligations to First Nations — and that’s not something that can be resolved through lip service. In fact, the situation of Canada’s indigenous people is so bad that James Anaya, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Aboriginal People, termed it a “crisis” when he concluded his eight-day visit to Canada last week, only two days before the RCMP stormed Rexton.

Unfortunately, the response to the Rexton protests has shown a marked lack of contextual understanding. For many people, it seems, history on this issue begins and ends with burned-out cop cars.

Media coverage of the Rexton protests has shown that, for too many Canadians, it’s shamefully easy to forget about our historical obligations to First Nations. If we’re serious about resolving future disputes peacefully, we need to do a much better job of remembering our history.

Devon Black is studying law at the University of Victoria. In addition to writing for iPolitics, Devon has worked for the Canadian International Development Agency, Leadership Africa USA and RamRais & Partners.

Rabble: Out of order: Indigenous protest and the rule of law

Out of order: Indigenous protest and the rule of law

| October 21, 2013

Out of order: Indigenous protest and the rule of law

Sometimes it helps to put things in order, in precedence and priority, in order to see them clearly.  This is one of those times.

With today’s lifting of the injunction preventing anti-fracking protests in New Brunswick, the first question that comes to mind is why the RCMP felt it necessary to provoke the conflict that occurred last Thursday.

Having waited two weeks, they could have waited another five days to see what the law would rule on the issue, but instead showed up at a previously peaceful protest with hundreds of officers, snipers, dogs, riot gear and tear gas.

The chaos that followed led to plenty of negative media coverage of the protests, which is convenient for the Texan seismic testing company SWN, their partners Irving Oil, and the provincial and federal governments, but decidedly inconvenient for the Elsipogtog First Nation.

Questions around whether the protesters, agents provocateur, or the RCMP themselves set the police cars on fire and who was responsible for the “cache” of weapons the RCMP were so keen to display will likely never be answered.  As no charges are pending for those questions, no legal finding of fact will be made.  This, too, is a convenient result for those wishing to assign blame based on prejudice rather than facts, but unhelpful to the rest of us.

The events of October 17 also added to the pre-existing mistrust between the parties – something UN Special Rapporteur James Anaya had highlighted in his preliminary report on Canada’s human rights abuses one week ago – and make a negotiated settlement of the issues less likely, adding to the probability of future conflict.  Again, this is rather inconvenient for those of us who would prefer a turn toward the reconciliation the Supreme Court has ordered and the Crown claims to seek, but decidedly advantageous to those who wish to continue the status quo.

More broadly, what the events of last week reveal is the ongoing confusion over the idea of “the rule of law” among the media and public alike.

Every time Indigenous people block a road or a rail line, or even slow traffic to hand out information pamphlets, there is outrage over the failure to respect and enforce the rule of law.  These are almost always temporary events, usually amounting to minor inconvenience, occasionally some damage to property, rarely an injury to anyone except the protesters.

Yet, every day of the last 250 years, the Crown has violated the rule of law.  It will do so again today and again tomorrow.  And there will be no public outrage.

The Peace and Friendship Treaty of 1761 between the Mi’kmaq and the Crown governs the area in New Brunswick where the anti-fracking protests took place.  It did not cede any land, but that is inconvenient and so the Crown shows it no respect.

Nor is the Crown fully respecting other treaties across the country, whether historic or modern, another point UNSR Anaya mentioned.  Nor is it respecting its own Royal Proclamation of 1763.

All of these documents are valid international law and enshrined in Canada’s Constitution domestically, surely more important law than a temporary injunction covering a few metres of highway.

The net effect of the Crown’s violation of the rule of law is a 50% poverty rate among First Nations children, a 30% earned income gap for Indigenous people, grossly disproportionate rates of suicide and other social ills, hundreds of missing and murdered Indigenous women, and the ongoing destruction of the environment, any one of which is surely more important than a traffic delay or a dent in SWN’s bottom line.

If, as I argue here, the significance of the laws being broken by the Crown is greater both as a matter of law and in effect, the priority for respecting those laws seems clear.

The hundreds of court cases won by First Nations against the Crown over the past 40 years are more than sufficient evidence of the Crown’s utter contempt for the rule of law when it comes to Indigenous rights in this country.  And yet, politicians, media and members of the public will portray last week as another example of Indigenous peoples’ intransigence.  None of them will give a moment’s thought to the ongoing violation of the Peace and Friendship Treaty of 1761, a continuing violation that preceded last week’s events by over 250 years.

It is time to put these matters in order, because clearly there is no peace.  And with friends like these….

Guardian: New Brunswick fracking protests are the frontline of a democratic fight

SOURCE: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/oct/21/new-brunswick-fracking-protests

Images of burning cars and narratives about Canadian natives breaking the law obscure the real story about the Mi’kmaq people’s opposition to shale gas exploration

A girl plays the drums as she sings a traditional First Nations song during an anti shale gas demonstration in Montreal in support of the Mikmaq people of Elsipogtog First Nations in New Brunswick.
A girl plays the drums as she sings a traditional First Nations song during an anti shale gas demonstration in Montreal in support of the Mikmaq people of Elsipogtog First Nations in New Brunswick. Photograph: Oscar Aguirre/Demotix/Corbis

The image of burning police cars played endlessly on the evening news. Television and talk radio blared out reports of “clashes” between police and indigenous protestors. Last Thursday in New Brunswick near the Elsipogtog First Nation, we were told the government had enforced an injunction against a blockade of a US shale gas company. There was nothing about the roots of a conflict years in the making. An appeal to the stereotype of indigenous violence was enough: once again, the natives were breaking the law; the police had to be sent in. Catching the headlines, Canadian could shake their heads and turn away their gaze.

But smoke and flames from police cars can only hide the truth for so long. The exact chronology is not yet settled, but this much is clear: on Thursday morning someone in government sanctioned the Canadian police to invade a peaceful protest site like an army. In a dawn raid, snipers crawled through the forest, putting children and elders in their cross-hairs. Police carried assault rifles and snarling dogs, and sprayed tear gas and shot rubber-type bullets. The result was predictable: shocked and enraged people, a day ending in chaos.

There is only one reason the police were unleashed. Not because of the New Brunswick Premier’s claims about the dangers of an “armed encampment”; protestors had been unswervingly non-violent for months. Ever since 2010, when New Brunswick handed out 1.4 million hectares of land – one-seventh of the province – to shale gas exploration, opposition had been mounting. Petitions, town hall meetings, marches on legislature had slowly transformed to civil disobedience, and in October, to the blockade of equipment that Texan SNW Resources was using for seismic testing. The company was losing $60,000 daily, and the non-violent defiance had put a wrinkle in the Premier’s plans for a resource boom. The blockade had to go.

The pundits howl or hand-wring about destroyed police cars, but say nothing about the destruction wrought by fracking. Short for “hydraulic fracturing,” fracking pumps a toxic cocktail of chemicals, sand and water into deeply drilled wells. It shatters the bedrock to free shale gas. The chemicals – many of which are kept secret by industry – are linked to cancer and other illnesses. The process contaminates ground water and even causes earthquakes. And it doesn’t just do violence to the earth: it releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes massively to climate change. Such concerns have spurred citizen movements to win moratoriums in Quebec, New York and France.

But Premier David Alward, hell-bent on opening up the province to shale gas, has spurned consultation with First Nations and the rest of the population. His latest step is demonization. “Clearly, there are those who do not have the same values we share as New Brunswickers,” he cynically announced on Friday. But the opposition to the Premier’s shale gas agenda is not just a supposedly isolated Indigenous community: it is two of every three people in Atlantic Canada. Little wonder he has repeatedly rejected a referendum on shale gas. It turns out the residents of Elsipogtog aren’t criminal deviants. They are the frontline of a fight for the democratic and environmental will of New Brunswick.

“It is our responsibility to protect Mother Earth, to protect the land for non-natives too,” says Susan Levi-Peters, the former Chief of Elsipogtog. “My people are speaking up for everyone.” Others have heard. Since the beginning of the summer, Levi-Peters has seen indigenous Maliseet, Acadians and anglophone New Brunswickers drawn to this new epicentre of resistance on her community’s traditional lands. “People care about the water. People care about the environment. This isn’t just a native issue.”

But let’s be clear about one way this is a “native issue”: the rush underway for dirtier and more extreme fossil fuels and minerals, in New Brunswick and across Canada, is just the latest stage of colonial pillage. It’s a badly-kept secret that Canada’s oil, gas and mineral wealth, the key to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s reckless resource obsession, are mostly on Indigenous lands. And if industry is to have them, the country’s national myths must be summoned. In last week’s Speech from the Throne, Harper praised the “courage and audacity” of the country’s “pioneers,” who “forged an independent country where non would have otherwise existed.” A day later, the raid on Elsipogtog was effectively a footnote.

Levi-Peters says the Mi’kmaq remember the “audacity” all too well. How their nation signed a peace and friendship treaty in 1761 to let the English settle but not to trample Mi’kmaq interests. How before they came for the shale gas, they came for the timber, the fish, the wildlife. And then for the children, locked away in residential schools and split from their connection to the land. The farms that were burnt to push them onto reserves. And how every act of resistance has been greeted by the same lectures from authority. “In no way can we as a country of laws condone the breaking of laws and violence,” Premier Alward reminded them on Friday.

Tell that to Levi-Peters and the rest of the Mi’kmaq, who have been betrayed again and again by the law. The Canadian Supreme Court’s judgment in the historic Marshall case in 1999 recognized the Mi’kmaq rights to fish for a living. But when the Mi’kmaq’s attempted to practice that right, their boats were rammed by government officials, their nets destroyed by non-native fishers agitated by state misinformation. That same judgment confirmed that the treaty of 1761 had never surrendered their lands. That Elsipogtog still owns, in fact, what SNW Resources now covets. And that the injunction order by a provincial judge is a convenient legal fiction, backed only by the power of brute police force.

This is the vast and enduring violence that is scarcely spoken of: a history of dispossession and resource theft under the guise of the “law.” What Harper and every premier now offers indigenous peoples are promises they will have “every opportunity to benefit.” They won’t. In Elsipogtog, unemployment tips 80 percent and they want jobs, but fracking is too great a risk. As many as twenty people crowd into one house, in a community that needs 500 new homes. Their share of a multi-billion dollar resource rush will be destitution and despair on its outskirts.

But in the protest movement against shale gas, many young Indigenous people have discovered a new reason for hope. Like one young man, 17 years old, who has camped at the site for the last weeks. “I’m worried about the water and the future of my children,” he says. He is among the terrifying warriors that shale gas-drunk politicians unleashed an armed police force on last week. Anxious that this might come, Levi-Peters sent a message this summer to the Premier. “You’re going to make criminals out of us, because there is no way we can allow the fracking,” she wrote him. His office never bothered to reply. She now has his response: Harper’s pioneers aim to march on.

Unless, of course, Canadians are prepared to break with the past. Many are. Tens of thousands have signed petitions, and many others marched alongside indigenous peoples in dozens of cities and towns since Thursday. It is a sign that the the actions of the New Brunswick and the Canadian government may backfire. What the government and corporate media crave now is more mayhem, to sell to the public the repression they have sought all along. What they fear most is a movement armed only with drums and eagle feathers and a sacred relationship to the land, touching the hearts of ever more Canadians.

Freed of the distractions, we will be left with a single question. Do we obey provincial dictates that grant a company license to pollute the water? Or the laws of Indigenous peoples, of the Supreme Court, and of our conscience, calling us to protect it? The answer will tell us everything about the kind of country we will have.

Rabble: Frackas in Elsipogtog

SOURCE: http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/christophermajka/2013/10/frackas-elsipogtog

Christopher Majka, October 19, 2013

Since the violent confrontations between RCMP and protestors at Elsipogtog, New Brunswick on October 17, 2013, there has been an explosion of concern across Canada. Many solidarity rallies have been held across the country (including one in Halifax, Nova Scotia, that I attended on October 18, pictured in the photographs accompanying this article) and almost 23,000 people have already signed a petition calling on the RCMP to refrain from using violence against these peaceful protests by First Nations peoples and their supporters.

What’s at Issue?

First and foremost, fracking. This is a mining technique for extracting oil or natural gas from underground deposits. Typically clusters of holes are bored, first vertically then horizontally. Water mixed with chemical additives and sand is pumped at extremely high pressures into sections of these drill holes in order to hydraulically fracture (a.k.a., “frack”) the rock formations, thereby releasing hydrocarbons like methane (i.e., natural gas) or crude oil.

What’s the Problem?

There are two fundamental areas of concern.

1. Groundwater contamination

Elsipogtog Solidarity RallyAn enormous number (750+) chemicals have been used as additives in the slurry that is injected into boreholes. Typically 3-12 are used and they include, hydrochloric acid (for cleaning perforations), salt (to delay the breakdown of polymers), polyacrylamide (as a friction-reducer), ethylene glycol (to prevent scale deposits), borate salts (for maintaining fluid viscosity), sodium and potassium carbonates (to maintain crosslinks in polymers), glutaraldehyde (as a disinfectant), guar gum (to increase viscosity), citric acid (to reduce corrosion), and isopropanol (to increase fluid viscosity).

Although the fracking slurry is typically 90 per cent water, 9.5 per cent sand, and only 0.5 percent chemical additives, this soup of chemicals contains many substances of concern that one would not want in groundwater. Furthermore, when rock is hydraulically fractured — depending on its composition, depth, the bedding planes, and groundwater flows in the area — fractures and seams can open up that lead anywhere, and once opened, are virtually unstoppable.

Over time (this may take many months), these chemicals will work their way away to somewhere (Who knows where and with what consequences?), but what will not go away are the petroleum products (various oils and gases) released by the process of fracking — that, after all is the point. If channels through rock formations open up that lead to groundwater reservoirs, this hydrocarbon contamination can continue indefinitely. This is not only a problem in terms of drinking water from wells, springs, brooks, and rivers, but it also has the potential to affect aquatic ecosystems.

2. Methane leakage

Elsipogtog Solidarity RallyFracking releases gases, primarily methane, but also propane and contaminant gases such as hydrogen sulfide (which is very poisonous, corrosive, flammable, and explosive and needs to be flared-off to avoid dangers). Despite various technologies that are deployed, research done by investigators such as Cornell University environmental engineer, Anthony Ingraffea and his colleagues, has shown that some 10 per cent of fracked wells leak methane immediately (from defective cement seals and faulty steel linings), and some 20 per cent will eventually do so over time.  They not only leak at the wellhead, but can (and do) leak virtually anywhere in the surrounding area, coming up through fractured seams in the bedrock. Since methane is colourless and odorless, it may not be easy to detect.

Besides not wanting to breathe methane, this leakage is a serious concern because methane is a very powerful greenhouse gas. Its Global Warming Potential (GWP) is calculated (most recently by the IPCC 2013 report) to be some 86 times that of carbon dioxide based on a 20-year atmospheric residency. This means that methane, as a Greenhouse Gas (GWG) in the atmosphere, traps heat 86 times as efficiently as carbon dioxide over a 20 year time period. Given that concerns with respect to climate change are climbing to critical levels, we have to be very mindful of the environmental impacts of processes like fracking that will inevitably leak methane into the atmosphere, essentially indefinitely.

Add to this concerns about radioactivity associated with fracking (flowbacks from some fracked gas wells have been found to contain high levels of radium) and seismic activity (i.e., tremors) induced by hydraulic fracturing, and it is clear that there are well-founded environmental concerns related to this practice. This is why many communities view plans to undertake fracking with deep suspicion.

Can it be done safely?

Elsipogtog Solidarity RallyWell … maybe. There are an enormous number of different parameters having to do with the geology of the deposits, their depth, what hydrocarbons they contain, the hydrology of the region, how the fracking is being conducted, what chemicals are being used, the proximity to aquifers and settlements, how the well-casing are made, etc. There are some situations where potential risks are greater, others where they are less; some situations where potential benefits are greater, others where they are less.

What is essential is that a clear and detailed assessment of risks and benefits needs to be undertaken before any such project proceeds, and — critically — who will bear the potential risks and reap the benefits. Scenarios in which the risks are assumed by the environment (as a dumping-ground for the mistakes of humanity) and the communities of people who live in the area and depend upon the integrity of that environment, while the benefits are primarily accrued by distant corporations (that are solely concerned with shareholder profits and executive bonuses) should be assessed very critically.

The inescapable corollary is that the adjudication of such proposals is an environmental, social, and political matter. It should not under any circumstances be downloaded onto police authorities. To do so is an abuse of process. The hydrocarbons trapped in shales have been there for tens if not hundreds of millions of years. They will not go away. There is no need to rush an ethically corrupt process (see more below).

Should it be done?

 at left, Sherry Pictou, former Chief of the Bear River First NationAye, there’s the rub. While it’s unquestionably the case that natural gas (which is what is at issue in Elsipogtog) burns more cleanly and with fewer carbon-dioxide emissions that other hydrocarbons such as coal or oil, it is still a fossil fuel and burning it (or letting it escape) emits greenhouse gases (GHGs), which on a daily bassis are bringing our planet closer to what many climatologists fear may be runaway global warming, the consequences of which could end civilization as we know it, something I would think should be of non-insignificant concern … (See Loaded dice in the climate change casino, In the valley of the shadow of peak oil, Acid bath: Evil twin of climate change, and Pestilence, famine, and climate change: Horseman of the Apocalypse).

We simply have to stop burning fossil fuels. While methane is cleaner than coal or tar sands, it is still emits GHGs. If extracting more natural gas would displace the burning of dirtier fuels, a case could be made for their exploitation. However, this seldom if ever happens. More extraction of fossil fuels almost invariably result sin more consumption of fossil fuels — and the cheaper they are, the more wastefully they are squandered.

Moreover, the more we as a society invest in fossil fuel technologies and infrastructure [i.e., pipelines, LNG (liquefied natural gas) terminals, fracking pads, etc.] the more we economically commit to these investments, and the less we correspondingly have to invest in critical renewable energy resources (i.e., wind, water, wave, solar, tidal, geothermal, etc.). It is impossible to have it both ways; we don’t have infinite financial resources, and the world’s atmosphere and oceans are not infinite reservoirs into which we can indefinitely pour our wastes.  Climate change — an accumulation of the last several centuries of industrial society’s sins — is coming home to roost with virulent speed. We can’t continue to stick our head in the sands (tar or otherwise) — we simply have to stop burning fossil fuels.

Back to Elsipogtog

Elsipogtog Solidarity RallyHaving grown up in New Brunswick, this is an area I’m quite familiar with. The native community of Elsipogtog and the many surrounding Acadian towns of Rexton, Richibucto, Sainte-Anne de Kent, Saint-Louis de Kent, and many others, are located on the spectacular Gulf of St. Lawrence – Northumberland Strait coast of New Brunswick, a skipping stone’s throw away from Kouchibouguac National Park, itself a constellation of sand bars, barrier beaches, lagoons, and estuaries which is a scenic, natural, and wildlife gem of New Brunswick. The people of these communities are understandably attached to, and care for, the land, rivers, and ocean where they grew up, live, and make their livelihoods. They are understandably concerned by proposals by SWN Resources Canada (a subsidiary of a Houston, Texas based corporation) to frack for natural gas in their communities.

In the tense standoff at Elsipogtog, what we are seeing is how aboriginal communities are once again on the literal and figurative front line of resisting an exploitative model of resource development that disenfranchises the rights of people and is accelerating the destruction of the planet. It is native people — who have repeatedly been run over by the vehicles of corporate greed — who are standing up once again for the sake of their own communities, for the well being of all Canadians, and to preserve the sacred vitality and integrity of the environment that nourishes us all.

Elsipogtog Solidarity RallyThey are expressing well-founded environmental and political concerns and are asking pointed questions about the models of resource development and extraction, and the corporate myopia and greed that drives them. These abuses have brought us to the global environmental, social, and economic mess that we find ourselves in today. They are unfazed about asking spiritual questions about the sanctity of the earth and whether this is any way to treat her. As a society, we have to listen to these concerns — calmly and respectfully. There is no need to rush. It is inexcusable to send in the police, creating pointlessly tense situations that can readily escalate into conflict and violence. The New Brunswick government needs to reciprocate the invitation from native people to engage in an environmental, social, and political dialogue and not try to download the issues of this dispute onto police authorities.

An encouraging aspect of these current anti-fracking demonstrations and those of Idle No More (see No less than Idle No More) that I have attended, is the degree to which they have drawn people of every age, gender, and ethnicity, and how welcoming First Nations communities have been of the involvement of their fellow Canadians. Native people have been subject to centuries of genocide, persecution, or sometimes indifference, by the representatives of the European nations that came and colonized their land. They have more than ample reasons to feel hostile and suspicious — instead they are welcoming and generous.

In the past few years I’ve witnessed a sea-change, from a time when aboriginal people and their societies and concerns were seen as peripheral to ‘Canadian’ values and interests. Now I am witnessing a growing awareness and understanding that native people are at the forefront of what we need to do and embrace as a society. If we are to survive as a civilization, we need to understand that humanity is intimately and inextricably based on our relationship to the natural world. If we abuse it, we abuse ourselves. If we threaten its well being, we jeopardize our own future. If we ignore it, we hide from our own destiny. If we debase it, we harm our own sanctity. These are the lessons emerging from Elsipogtog and Idle No More. These are lessons that we urgently need to learn.

Christopher Majka is a biologist, environmentalist, policy analyst, and arts advocate. He conducts research on the ecology and biodiversity of beetles. He is a research associate of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-NS and a member of the Project Democracy team.

OC: Op-Ed: Heavy-handed response to the Elsipogtog blockade in New Brunswick

SOURCE: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/opinion/op-ed/Heavy+handed+response+Elsipogtog+blockade+Brunswick/9054564/story.html

Op-Ed: Heavy-handed response to the Elsipogtog blockade in New Brunswick

By Peter Raaymakers, Ottawa Citizen October 18, 2013
Op-Ed: Heavy-handed response to the Elsipogtog blockade in New Brunswick

Photograph by: Andrew Vaughan , THE CANADIAN PRESS

On Thursday morning, RCMP officers were deployed with rifles, non-lethal bullets, pepper spray, and dogs to enforce a court injunction and attempt to disperse a blockade of protesters on New Brunswick Route 134, about an hour north of Moncton. At least 40 people were arrested for continuing a protest against natural gas exploration in the area, which comprises traditional lands of the Mi’kmaq people.

Perhaps it can be seen as an extension of the Canadian “pioneer” spirit mentioned by Governor General David Johnston in the most recent speech from the throne. That spirit, according to the current government, pushed settlers to build “an independent country where none would have otherwise existed.”

Of course, Canada wasn’t depopulated when settlers arrived here from Europe. Our country’s wealth and prosperity has been built through the persistent and usually violent removal of First Nations from their traditional lands in order to make room for resource development — and, as we saw Thursday, that’s as true today as it was centuries ago.

As we watched the blockade, we also witnessed the violent response that often follows violent provocation. Although thankfully there were no serious injuries reported, five flaming police cars have a way of catching the attention of the general public. After RCMP officers converged on the blockade, Elsipogtog First Nation Chief Arren James Sock — who was allegedly “roughed up” in the process, according to at least one eyewitness — was among those arrested, and as matters escalated, police also began using non-lethal bullets, pepper spray, and physical confrontation in an attempt to break the blockade.

It seems that cooler heads have prevailed and the RCMP pulled back their offensive for the time being, but it’s unfortunate that the violence seems to be what’s generating headlines in the aftermath. It’s distracting many from the injustice of gas exploration and fracking around Richibucto and Canada’s relations with First Nations in general.

The Mi’kmaq people of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, including the Elsipogtog First Nation, have never signed a treaty relinquishing authority to the land on which the Route 134 blockade stands today, or that on which SWN Resources is conducting exploratory testing. They signed a Peace and Friendship Treaty in 1761, which was re-affirmed in 1982 with Canada’s Constitution Act and then again in a 1999 Supreme Court of Canada decision, but that agreement included no mention of the surrender of any lands. Although the federal and New Brunswick governments are currently engaged in exploratory discussions to address issues of land ownership, rights, and sovereignty, there has been no agreement yet.

Given this reality, SWN Resources’ exploration permits aren’t legitimate. Nor was the court injunction criminalizing the blockade, and the police action was ridiculously illegitimate, not to mention unjust, unreasonable in its heavy-handedness, and terribly bad public relations for the RCMP.

In the above-mentioned Supreme Court case, the federal government was encouraged to negotiate with all First Nations in Canada in order to resolve the many outstanding issues and fulfil its treaty obligations. The negotiation process takes a lot of time, but that’s the point. It’s designed to be a meaningful engagement to avoid violent confrontation and find a mutually acceptable solution to these complex issues. If we hope to avoid more destructive events like that which took place on Thursday in New Brunswick, negotiation is the only way forward.

Negotiations are taking place with the provincial government, too. Premier David Alward and Chief Sock met as recently as last week to find a way to end the blockade, and they agreed to form a working group with representatives from the governments of the province and the Elsipogtog First Nation as well as the energy industry. Why the RCMP felt that it was appropriate to intervene in what was at the time a peaceful protest in the midst of active negotiations is unclear, but thankfully all sides have agreed to resume negotiation now that the police have stepped back.

Before gas exploration continues, those negotiations must reach a settlement. Continuing them while the industry conducts testing is disingenuous, putting the cart before the horse and assuming that the settlement will allow fracking without any indication that it’s an acceptable component. If New Brunswick was negotiating in good faith, SWN Resources would be required to stop looking for shale gas deposits — and if testing were halted, the blockade and the hugely excessive police response that followed it could have been avoided.

This year marks the 250th anniversary of the Royal Proclamation of 1763, which outlined the First Nations land rights. That proclamation was further guaranteed in 1982 within the Canadian Charter or Rights and Freedoms. With that in mind, it’s high time the federal government redoubles its efforts to resolve the many outlying issues that are causing conflicts such as that in New Brunswick.

Peter Raaymakers is an Ottawa resident who thinks 400 years should have been long enough to build peace between Canada and the indigenous people who live within its borders.

MC: Elsipogtog: “Clashes” 400 Years in the Making

Elsipogtog: “Clashes” 400 Years in the Making

Corporate media coverage creates ignorance, which enables violence

by Dru Oja Jay

"What the RCMP are aiming at," a photo from the blockades in Rexton. Photo by @mykelone
“What the RCMP are aiming at,” a photo from the blockades in Rexton. Photo by @mykelone
RCMP snipers. Photo by @ToddLamirande
RCMP snipers. Photo by @ToddLamirande
Department of Fisheries and Oceans patrol boat running over Mi'kmaq fishers in 2001.
Department of Fisheries and Oceans patrol boat running over Mi’kmaq fishers in 2001.
“NB protest turns violent,” a CBC headline solemnly proclaims. 1,280 news stories about anti-fracking protests in Rexton, New Brunwick, indexed by Google use the word “clashes.” Most stories are decorated with photos of burning police cars.
All this points to one thing: the way that Canada’s corporate media discusses Indigenous protests is fundamentally broken.
Let’s put it this way. If a hockey player gets in a fight or takes a boarding penalty, we can count on the intrepid investigative team at Hockey Night in Canada to find the footage, if it exists, of the “victimized” player instigating the conflict by making a nasty play when the ref wasn’t looking.
When it comes to Mi’kmaq traditional territory, the stakes are infinitely higher, but the effort reporters put in falls short of a typical Don Cherry segment. Most of the reporters currently flocking to rural New Brunswick can’t be bothered to crack one of hundreds of history books that might give them the background they need to understand the situation.
In fact, they’re not even interested in the months of peaceful protests which “turned violent” when the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) brought in snipers dressed in camouflage and armoured riot police who attacked protesters with pepper spray, physical assaulting those who stood in the way of violations of treaty rights and the destruction of their land.
The corporate media’s interest in the issue seems to have coincided with the exact moment when unprotected police cars were set on fire (by whom, we have no idea), and their curiosity does not extend back from the present moment. Reporters and editors seem happy to allow the racist anti-Native narratives, which are themselves hundreds of years in the making, fill in the blanks for their readers and viewers.
Are we to understand that reality and accurate understanding is what reporters are supposed to provide? If so, it’s worth telling them that the situation in New Brunswick is impossible to understand the situation without a bit of history.
In the mid-1700s, the Crown signed Peace and Friendship treaties with the Mi’kmaq. The Crown — the entity that puts the “Royal” in “Royal Canadian Mounted Police” — understood that to maintain their settlements on someone else’s traditional territory without worrying about attacks, they needed a treaty relationship with the folks who live here.
Here’s what the Mi’kmaq warrior society says about the treaties:
Under the Peace and Friendship Treaties of 1760 and 1761 in the Maritimes, the Mi’kmaq and the Maliseet signatories did not surrender rights to lands or resources.
Oops, that wasn’t the warrior society. It’s actually what the Canadian government said about the treaty. It’s what they have to say, because a long string of court decisions has upheld that the Mi’kmaq nation holds collective rights to the land they share with European settlers.
Let’s put this another way. If the British hadn’t signed a treaty that acknowledged the rights of the Mi’kmaq to the land, British, Scottish and Irish settlement (as well as subsequent waves of migration) might have either not happened at all, or happened in a totally different way.
All those who live on the land governed by the treaty are bound by that relationship, by law and by history. That, at any rate, is how many Mi’kmaq people see it. Non-Native Canadians are more likely to know nothing about the relationship that allows them to live in parts of New Brunswick or Nova Scotia. If they do know, they probably see it as a social studies curiosity rather than the basis of their legal rights in this country.
And that’s where the media comes in. People who have been reading newspapers and listening to CBC News on the radio for years still have no idea about what should be the most basic self-awareness.
It’s hard to say why any given reporter or editor chooses to continue not providing this essential information. But we can identify the effects of this ongoing neglect.
In the early 1800s, Mi’kmaq people were forced onto reserves. Then the colonial government made a law which allowed European squatters to claim ownership over lands set aside for Mi’kmaq. During this time, Mi’kmaq status was taken away from anyone who decides to become Canadian (necessary at the time to gain voting and other rights).
In the 1900s, Mi’kmaq settlements were encroached upon continuously, with many imposed relocations. The Canadian government forced children into residential schools starting in 1930, followed by “centralization,” which again forced Mi’kmaq families to move into two reserves (Shubenacadie and Eskasoni). Many resisted the move, and the government was only able to centralize about half of the Mi’kmaq population. It was only in 1951 that a ban on traditional ceremonies was lifted.
All of these actions violated the Peace and Friendship treaties, but settlers have simply ignored the law because their numbers are greater. This history leads straight up to the present.
In 1981, Mi’kmaq at Restigouche were attacked by police to prevent them from managing their own fishery (there’s a film about it).
In 2000, Mi’kmaq fishers near Burnt Church once again decided to assert their right, which had been upheld by the Supreme Court, to fish for lobster. They were subject to racist violence from both the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, which literally ran over boats of people trying to fish, and non-Native mobs, who attacked people trying to fish and destroyed traps and boats. (There’s a film about that, too.)
Every day, non-Native Canadians make a choice. Are we governed by laws and treaties, or by the will of those with the power to use violence and legitimize it via the media? So far, laws have won in courts while violence has won on the ground.
When Mi’kmaq people stop fracking trucks from entering their territory, they’re defending land that they never gave up. Land which the Supreme Court says they have rights to, rights which they government continues to prevent them from acting on.
The growing list of solidarity actions speaks to a different way of doing things, but ongoing widespread ignorance of the actual situation is what makes this violence possible. It’s far beyond time for the corporate media to stop talking about clashes, and start talking about reality.

2RowTimes: “FRACK OFF!” Elsipogtog First Nation announces major land reclamation in ongoing anti-fracking struggle

SOURCE: http://tworowtimes.com/news/national/frack-elsipogtog-first-nation-announces-major-land-reclamation-ongoing-anti-fracking-struggle/

Steve daSilva – October 9, 2013

After months of arrests and mounting resistance against shale gas exploration in New Brunswick on Mi’kmaq territory, the anti-fracking movement upped the ante this past week with a fresh blockade and a proclamation of a massive land reclamation, which has forced conservative New Brunswick Premier David Alward to a negotiation table with representatives of the anti-fracking movement.

A day after the September 30 blockade was established on Route 134 that blocked the entrance to an equipment storage site of SWN Resources Canada, Chief Aaron Sock, speaking for Chief and Council of the Elsipogtog First Nation, announced a sweeping Mi’kmaq land reclamation effective immediately.

“Harper and the Conservative government have lifted restrictions to environmental protections of our lands and water” and “the provincial government is turning over all lands… to a corporation for their own benefit… we have lost confidence in governments for the safekeeping of our lands.”

Sock added that “our notice of eviction has been completely ignored by the Provincial government and Southwest Energy, and… we have been compelled to act to save our water, land and animals from ruin.”

“Let it be known to all the we as the chief and council of Elsipogtog are reclaiming all unoccupied reserve lands… We have been instructed by our people that they are ready, willing, and able to go out and stake their own claims on all unoccupied lands for their own use and benefit.”

The October 1 announcement was read at the blockade site to an exuberant crowd of hundreds who gathered from across Kent County and beyond.

The New Brunswick government has been allowing SWN Resources to explore some 2.5 million acres of lands for the purpose of shale gas extraction through hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”. Fracking involves drilling deep wells that fracture shale rock beds and requires the pumping of millions of gallons of pressurized fresh water and toxic chemicals, including known carcinogens and neurotoxins, into a well to force the gas out. However, the provincial government’s case for hydraulic fracturing took a huge blow this past September when Louis LaPierre, the researcher at the New Brunswick Energy Institute who wrote the report encouraging the government to proceed with gas exploitation, was discovered to have lied for decades about having a PhD in Ecology.

On Wednesday, October 2, a new Brunswick court issued an injunction against the blockade at the request of SWN, which is enforceable until October 12, 2013.  But the papers have yet to be served by the RCMP, and Miles Howe of the Halifax Media Co-op has reported that the RCMP would not enforce an injunction until dialogue with the Premiere had ceased.

On Sunday, October 5 Premier Alward and three members of his cabinet met with and the Elsipogtog chief and 15 representatives of the protesters for three hours in a Moncton hotel, with negotiations continuing in Fredericton as of Monday.  The delegation reportedly excluded the  Mi’kmaq Warriors Society, who Alward would not meet with, and who have reportedly been the main and most visible force at the blockade. The Warriors are independent of the Chief and Council.

Two Row Times asked Elsipogtog counsellor Robert Levi whether the negotiations that had opened up related to the blockade or the larger land reclamation, and Levi told us that “I think the [reclamation] is a larger issue that will take on a life of its own. But since we have an injunction hanging over our heads, this is what needs to be resolved right now, since we want a peaceful resolution to the blockade and for no one to get hurt.”

On October 7, the Mi’kmaq Warriors Society took their own initiative and hand-delivered a letter (via a Houston-based environmentalist group) to SWN Resources reading, “all projects, leases, and permits issued to SWN Resources by the Government [of New Brunswick] come to a halt until all Mi’kmaq-L’nu, and Wabanaki communities, as sovereign individuals are Meaningfully Consulted, and that we are able to come to an informed decision as individuals.”

All the while, the Acadian presence in the anti-fracking movement and at the most recent blockade has also been quite strong, which many see as a welcome development between the two communities.  Fourteen years ago, the crisis of Burnt Church unfolded 100 km to the north, where non-native fishers destroyed thousands of Mi’kmaq lobster traps to protest native fishing rights, which was followed by violent confrontations.  However, Acadians and Mi’kmaq have also had strong of unity against a common oppressor in the region’s history.  After the mass expulsion of the French-speaking Acadian people by the British in 1755, the remaining Acadians and the Mi’kmaq made a treaty that saw the two peoples unite in a guerilla war against the British that led to the 1757 defeat of a British detachment in 1757 in  the Battle of Bloody Creek.