APTN: After court loss, Elsipogtog braces for SWN’s return

SOURCE: http://aptn.ca/news/2013/11/18/court-loss-elsipogtog-braces-swns-return/

After court loss, Elsipogtog braces for SWN’s return

Uncategorized | 18. Nov, 2013 by | 0 Comments

Sockandburkcourt

(Elsipogtog lawyer T.J. Burke (left) stands next to Elsipogtog Chief Aaron Sock. APTN/Photo)

By Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
FREDERICTON–There were tears outside a courtroom in Fredericton Monday after a New Brunswick judge ruled against Elsipogtog First Nation which was seeking an injunction to stop a Houston-based energy company from continuing its controversial shale gas exploration work north of the community.

Weeping supporters hugged Elsipogtog Chief Aaron Sock after Justice Judy Clendening handed down her ruling, effectively clearing the way for SWN Resources Canada to continue the last phase of its shale gas exploration work about 46 kilometres north of the Mi’kmaq community.

“I think we’re still in shock, we’re nervous and scared about what’s going to happen,” said Judie Miksovsky, from the St. Mary’s First Nation Maliseet community near Fredericton.

Elsipogtog was seeking to convince the judge to issue the temporary injunction against SWN arguing the province had failed to consult properly and that a conflict, echoing the heavily armed RCMP raid on Oct. 17, loomed on the horizon.

Clendening, however, found that Elsipogtog failed to adequately make its case.

“In my view and at this stage, and without any real evidence of the irreparable harm that may be occasioned on (Elsipogtog), it is apparent that SWN is suffering monetary losses,” said Clendening. “There is no evidence of the degree of harm to (Elsipogtog) that is related to the Crown’s request to consult.”

Clendening also dismissed Elsipogtog’s argument that a violent conflict loomed on the highway if the company was allowed to continue its work.

“The respondents (SWN, the province) are not inciting this reaction and there is no evidence that the respondents will interfere with a peaceful protest,” said Clendening, in her oral ruling. “The threat of radical elements converging is not a reasonable factor to be considered. SWN needs to complete this phase of the work and there is no evidence that the consultation and accommodation cannot be recommenced between the Crown and (Elsipogtog).”

SWN has faced months of protests and blockades from a persistent opposition of Mi’kmaq people from Elsipogtog and sister communities who are supported by Acadians from surrounding communities. The Mi’kmaq-led opposition fear shale gas exploration will eventually lead to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, threatening the area’s water.

Mi’kmaq-led demonstrators have twice turned back SWN and its contractors on Hwy 11, which is the last area where the company wants to conduct shale gas exploration before winter. They have vowed to stop SWN at all costs and have set up a camp just off the highway.

On Oct. 17, heavily armed RCMP tactical units descended on an anti-fracking camp on another highway called Route 134 which was blocking SWN’s vehicles in a compound owned by JD Irving Ltd. The RCMP arrested 40 people and seized three rifles, ammunition and crude explosive devices in an operation that lead to a day-long clash with Elsipogtog residents. Several RCMP vehicles were also torched in the melee.

Chief Sock said he hoped violence could still be avoided.

“I just hope and pray that it remains peaceful,” said Sock.

Sock said there was little he could do to stop the violence if it flared.

“I am just one man, I can’t really commit to anything,” said Sock.

Elsipogtog has pulled out of the Assembly of First Nations Chiefs of New Brunswick (AFNCNB) over the ongoing controversy surrounding SWN’s exploration work. The AFNCNB was named in the band’s application for the injunction. The band argued that the AFNCNB had failed in its delegated duty to act on behalf of the community in the consultation process.

AFNCNB’s lawyer Kelly Lamrock said the organization did not oppose the injunction. He said the judge’s ruling came with a lesson.

“Take all that opportunity to build evidence and then take your shot in court, because if you are going to take a shot at the government in court, don’t miss,” said Lamrock.

Back in Elsipogtog and at the anti-fracking camp, many waited nervously for the judge’s decision. They know the people will again be out to stop SWN’s machinery on the highway.

“Profits over lives is the rule of law now,” said Brian Milliea. “Our people have been put on crosshairs now.”

And at the campsite, people were preparing for the return of SWN.

“We will still be out there until it stops,” said one of the warriors at the camp.

APTN: Mi’kmaq claim another highway victory in ongoing battle against shale gas exploration

SOURCE: http://aptn.ca/news/2013/11/18/mikmaq-claim-another-highway-victory-ongoing-battle-shale-gas-exploration/

Mi’kmaq claim another highway victory in ongoing battle against shale gas exploration

National News | 18. Nov, 2013 by | 0 Comments

By Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
LAKETON, NB–It was another day of skirmishing on the highway in the ongoing battle between a Mi’kmaq-led group of anti-fracking demonstrators and a Houston-based company trying to wrap up the last of its shale gas exploration work for the year.

On the one-month anniversary of the Oct. 17 RCMP raid on an anti-fracking camp in Rexton, NB, a contractor working for SWN Resources Canada scrapped plans to pick up geophones strung along the shoulder of Hwy 11 after facing a demand from demonstrators that the company also retrieve the wires connecting the equipment.

(A worker with SWN Resources Canada contractor Geokinetics walks toward a geophone on the shoulder of Hwy 11 in New Brunswick. APTN/Photo)

(A worker with SWN Resources Canada contractor Geokinetics walks toward a geophone on the shoulder of Hwy 11 in New Brunswick. APTN/Photo)

Geophones interact with thumper trucks to create imaging of shale gas deposits underground. The thumper trucks deliver vibrations into the ground which are then transmitted to geophones which then send the data to measuring equipment.

On Thursday, dozens of demonstrators forced SWN’s thumper trucks to turn back.

A line of Mi'kmaq and their supporters confront a line of RCMP officers on Hwy 11 Thursday.

A line of Mi’kmaq and their supporters confront a line of RCMP officers on Hwy 11 Thursday.

Elsipogtog residents, along with supporters from other Mi’kmaq communities and local Acadians, have been trying to stop SWN’s shale gas exploration for months.  Many fear discovery of shale gas will lead to a controversial extraction method called hydraulic fracturing or fracking.

Opponents of fracking say it threatens water tables, while proponents say it poses no danger at all.

The New Brunswick government has given SWN its full backing and Premier David Alward has called the ongoing battle between SWN and demonstrators a “beachhead” in his government’s effort to bring more resource development to the province.

Sunday’s skirmish occurred in the same vicinity as Thursday’s confrontation which sits about 30 km north of the October raid site and about 46 km northeast of Elsipogtog.

“We did it again,” shouted some of the demonstrators after trucks belonging to Geokinetics turned around and left the area.

Initially it appeared that Geokinetics would be retrieving the geophones and the connecting wiring which is strung across 15 km on Hwy 11. One of the workers told APTN National News that the wires were going into their trucks along with the geophones.

Moments later, an RCMP liaison officer, known as “Dickie,” told the demonstrators that the company didn’t have the “resources” to pick up the wiring and the geophones.

“Either they are going to pull out all together or allow them to pick up their yellow boxes and they’ll come back another day to pick up the wire,” said the RCMP liaison officer.

The demonstrators, however, cried foul saying the terms of the initial arrangement had been altered.

“You show up here and your mouth starts doing this here and all of a sudden it’s all different,” said Melissa Augustine, who is from the Mi’kmaq community of Burnt Church.

“This is what they are conveying to me and this is what I am conveying to you,” said the RCMP liaison officer.

The meeting ended abruptly after one of the demonstrators, Maxime Daigle, attempted to read a letter, later described as a writ, to the RCMP liaison accusing the force of treason.

The RCMP liaison, however, refused to stay to hear Daigle read the whole thing.

“I read it yesterday,” said the liaison.

“Hey come back, you scared of this or what?” said Daigle, a former oil and gas worker with experience acrossWestern Canada and the U.S. who now campaigns against shale gas extraction.

Soon after, Geokinetic’s trucks turned around and left.

“They looked like a bunch of mice running away,” said Augustine. “They broke their word to pick up their garbage.”

Louis Jerome, another Mi’kmaq demonstrator from Gesgapegiag First Nation in Quebec, said if SWN’s contractor returns, it will face the same thing.

“If they come back, we are going to make sure that they take all their equipment,” said Jerome. “I think they got the message.”

The symbolism of Sunday’s small victory on the one-month anniversary of the raid remained with some demonstrators after calm returned to their recently erected camp on Hwy 11.

“It’s a powerful day,” said Callum Moscovitch, from St. Margaret’s Bay, NS.

He said a lot had changed since the chaos and confusion following the raid, which resulted in 40 arrests and the torching of several RCMP vehicles.

Moscovitch said the camp was experiencing a level of unity that had been missing for awhile.

“It’s amazing to have arrived here from a point of tension, fear and distrust,” he said. “We are concentrating on our strength and where it lies is in prayer. It brings us together.”

The battle, however, is far from over.

On Monday, a New Brunswick judge is expected to rule on an application for an injunction filed by the Elsipogtog band council against SWN and the province. The judge could rule in favour of Elsipogtog and end SWN’s exploration for the season.

Or, the judge could rule against it and SWN would be able to return under the full cover of the courts.

jbarrera@aptn.ca

CBC: Shale gas injunction ruling to come Monday

First Nation seeking court injunction to halt shale gas exploration in Mi’kmaq territory

CBC News Posted: Nov 15, 2013 10:42 AM AT Last Updated: Nov 15, 2013 9:13 PM AT

RCMP and protesters clashed on Highway 11 near Kouchibouguac National Park this week over controversial shale gas exploration in the Rexton, N.B., area.RCMP and protesters clashed on Highway 11 near Kouchibouguac National Park this week over controversial shale gas exploration in the Rexton, N.B., area. (Jen Choi / CBC)

The Elsipogtog First Nation and SWN Resources Canada will learn Monday whether a judge will force the energy company to stop shale gas exploration in a large swath of New Brunswick.

Lawyers with the band, the company and the province spent Friday afternoon arguing over the case in Court of Queen’s Bench in Fredericton. Justice Judy Clendenning has reserved her decision until Monday.

While lawyers battled in court, the protest site on Highway 11 near Laketon was quiet — a far cry from Thursday when protesters stood toe to toe with police and one woman was arrested.

The trucks used for seismic testing were not out Friday. Instead, they sat parked behind a fence at the Caledonia Industrial Park in Moncton.

“We’re peaceful warriors,” said protester Judd Poulette. “People are like ‘Oh, warriors are violent, they’re the ones that go in right away.’

“Warriors are here to protect the elders and kids. That’s what I’m here for.”

In court, Elsipogtog lawyers argued the injunction is urgently needed as “outside radical elements” create the risk of more violent confrontations like those in Rexton, N.B., last month between protesters and police.

They also said the province didn’t properly consult aboriginal communities on shale gas development, a legal requirement.

Elsipogtog lawyer T.J. Burke said with the decision delayed until Monday, SWN is free to conduct seismic testing for now.

“They still can continue at this time to explore over the weekend,” Burke said. “We just hope everything remains peaceful.”

Premier David Alward has called the fight a “beachhead” in his vision of economic development.

He argued again Thursday that testing is low-impact — and that SWN will comply with a higher standard of consultation if it finds enough shale gas to develop.

“There will be a very significant consultation process that will be required to be undertaken by them,” he said.

But First Nation representatives argue it’s not SWN, but the province that has to consult. Since positive tests would lead inevitably to development, the province has already failed and testing should stop now, they say.

Alward has also warned the same groups protesting in Kent County this week will also oppose mining and pipeline projects in the province.

He said the ongoing opposition to SWN Resource’s shale exploration puts at risk not only the company’s plans, but also a proposed mine north of Fredericton and a planned pipeline to bring Alberta crude to the Irving refinery in Saint John.

“The unlawful protests that have taken place in Kent County cannot be accepted by any New Brunswicker,” he told reporters.

‘There is credible evidence that outside radical elements are converging in significant numbers on New Brunswick.’– Elsipogtog First Nation 

The Elsipogtog application contends there is “a very real danger that, as active seismic exploration is recommenced in the coming hours and days, outside radical elements, the respondent SWN and the RCMP, other police and even military forces,” would interact to create a repeat of the “unacceptable and dangerous events” that happened in Rexton on Oct. 17.

Dozens of protesters were arrested and six RCMP vehicles were destroyed by fire in a clash on the protest line that day. Protesters had prevented SWN from accessing its exploration equipment for almost three weeks and the company had obtained a court injunction ordering an end to the protest.

SWN Resources has been laying lines and placing geophones this week near Kouchibouguac National Park to carry out seismic testing for potential shale gas deposits. The continuation of exploration has been met by protests.

Laketon protestShale gas protesters and RCMP were nose to nose on Highway 11 near Kouchibouguac National Park in New Brunswick on Thursday. (Jen Choi / CBC)

On Thursday, a 46-year-old woman was arrested for mischief, assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest.

Cpl. Jullie Rogers-Marsh said the RCMP is investigating several incidents of vandalism as a truck belonging to a private company working in the area and several pieces of equipment were damaged.

“Most people that were there at the Laketon side that were protesting were doing so in a peaceful manner, but there were some obviously that were not,” said Rogers-Marsh on Thursday. “There were threats of illegal acts today and some crimes obviously were committed.

“So we’re certainly asking people that want to continue to protest to do so in a safe, peaceful and lawful manner.”

A few protesters were in Laketon on Friday morning should exploration activities resume, but there were no seismic exploration trucks or RCMP evident in the area of Thursday’s events.

The RCMP’s commanding officer for New Brunswick said the force moved in on the protesters on Oct. 17 because the situation had turned dangerous.

The premier said “outside forces” within the protest camp had escalated the situation.

“When outside forces came in, it’s certainly intimidating on many different sides,” Alward said at the time.

In its application for an injunction, Elsipogtog argued the New Brunswick government is “engaging in what amounts to impermissible self-help” to SWN Resources by permitting shale gas exploration without sufficient consultation with the aboriginal community, as required under the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling in Haida Nation v. British Columbia in 2004.  It seeks a court order to suspend all exploration activities in the Signitog District of Mi’kmaki, which covers most of New Brunswick south of the Miramichi River and a portion of Nova Scotia, where it borders New Brunswick.

“This behaviour, in violation of the supreme law of Canada, takes the form of unrelenting and uncompromising Crown affirmation of the rights it purported to grant to SWN, without regard for the rights of the applicant,” states the band in its application.

Alward and Energy Minister Craig Leonard have repeatedly stated that SWN’s ongoing work is exploratory in nature to determine if there is potential for feasible shale gas production in New Brunswick. They have said more consultation would take place if SWN, or any other company, wants to move into production in the province.

Shale gas is extracted through injecting a mixture of sand, water and chemicals into the earth under high pressure to fragment shale rock and release the natural gas that is otherwise inaccessible. Opponents fear the potential impact of that process on the groundwater supply.

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.

Text size: Increase Decrease Reset
Share via Email Print
Report an Error
Save to Mystar
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.

CBC: Elsipogtog seeks shale injunction, warns of ‘radical elements’

SOURCE: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/elsipogtog-seeks-shale-injunction-warns-of-radical-elements-1.2426414

Elsipogtog seeks shale injunction, warns of ‘radical elements’

One arrest made as SWN Resources continues exploration work in Kent County

CBC News Posted: Nov 14, 2013 11:13 AM AT Last Updated: Nov 14, 2013 5:42 PM AT

The Elsipogtog First Nation is seeking a court injunction to suspend all exploration by SWN Resources, and warns “outside radical elements” are converging on the area where the latest work is being done.

The band says in a court application filed Thursday afternoon there’s a real risk of a repeat to clashes between police and protesters near Rexton last month.

This comes as anti-shale gas protests erupted along Highway 11 near Laketon on Thursday, with a blockade closing at least part of the roadway for some of the day. The road had reopened by early evening, according to the RCMP.

Officers also arrested a 46-year-old woman and accuse her of assaulting an officer and resisting arrest. Police also say they are investigating reports of vandalism, including damage to trucks and equipment.

RCMP close Highway 11 in Laketon due to shale gas protestRCMP have closed Highway 11 in Laketon “for public safety” due to anti-shale gas protests in the area. (Google Maps)

Despite the demonstrations, the resumption of seismic testing is getting support from New Brunswick Energy Minister Craig Leonard.

“Basically they’ve been able to get, from what I understand, some work done today,” he said. “And yet there are protesters out there.

“As we’ve said all along we hope that protests remains peaceful and lawful. Hopefully SWN will be able to get their work done in the allotted time that they’re looking at.”

The notice by the band was filed in the Court of Queen’s Bench in Fredericton. It names the Attorney General of New Brunswick, the Minister of Energy and Mines, SWN Resources Canada Inc, and the Assembly of First Nations’ Chiefs in New Brunswick as respondents.

The application is asking — on what it calls “an extremely urgent basis” — to have an order suspending all SWN operations under oil and gas licences.

Tension building

It says that’s required to preserve the peace and rights of the First Nation. It says the exploration by SWN is illegal and unconstitutional because it violates aboriginal and treaty rights.

“On the other hand, there is credible evidence that outside radical elements are converging in significant numbers on New Brunswick [in] the vicinity of the shale gas exploration work that the respondents SWN proposes to recommence,” the application says.

Tension is building in Kent County again as opponents to shale gas exploration and development set up a new camp on Highway 11 near the community of Laketon.

A number of protesters, SWN Resources employees and RCMP officers were on the scene Thursday morning and into the afternoon.

SWN Resources has begun the next phase of exploration and on Wednesday more than 30 protesters had gathered.

There was also a strong police presence with 20 police cars in the area.

Protester David Goodswimmer, of Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation in Alberta, said on Wednesday they were going to wait for the seismic trucks to pass, and when they did they would not stand back and watch.

“We’re going to do everything in our power to either stop it or prevent it from happening,” Goodswimmer said.

SWN workers remove geophonesWorkers from SWN Resources Canada removed geophones used in seismic testing from near the new protest camp set up by opponents of shale gas exploration and development.

“Some of us are willing to go to jail, some more than others, and I’ve even heard around the fires, ‘I’m even willing to die for my land.'”

Other protesters, including Judd Poulette of Cape Breton, stressed the demonstration would be peaceful.

“We can’t really do much about it … We all promised peaceful protests. That’s all I can say.”

SWN Resources employees had been laying geophone lines used in their testing, but late Wednesday afternoon they removed all of the equipment that was near the new camp.

RCMP officers also visited the site and tried to talk with some of the protesters, who told officers they were upset about what was going on.

Several weeks of shale gas protests and highway barricades near Rexton ended on Oct. 17 with a violent clash between protesters and RCMP.

Dozens of protesters were arrested in that altercation and six police vehicles were destroyed by fire.

APTN: Elsipogtog grassroots declare “victory” on the highway, while leadership aims to stop SWN in courtroom

SOURCE: http://aptn.ca/pages/news/2013/11/15/elsipogtog-grassroots-declares-victory-highway-leadership-aims-stop-swn-courtroom/

Elsipogtog grassroots declare “victory” on the highway, while leadership aims to stop SWN in courtroom

National News | 15. Nov, 2013 by | 0 Comments

Elsipogtog grassroots declare “victory” on the highway, while leadership aims to stop SWN in courtroom

APTN National News
ELSIPOGTOG FIRST NATION, NB–Mi’kmaq demonstrators declared “victory” Thursday after stopping thumper trucks belonging to a Houston-based energy company from conducting shale gas exploration north of Elsipogtog First Nation.

While about 100 Mi’kmaq and supporters faced a line of RCMP officers as SWN Resources Canada’s thumper trucks idled in the background, the Elsipogtog band council was 200 kilometres away in a Fredericton courtroom seeking an ex parte injunction to stop SWN from continuing the exploration work. A hearing on the injunction is set for Friday.

On Hwy 11 tensions ran high as Mi’kmaq demonstrators from Elsipogtog and other communities along with non-First Nations supporters tried to block SWN from operating their thumper trucks while the RCMP tried to intervene. SWN eventually decided to turn the trucks around with plans for another attempt expected Friday.

A well-known Elsipogtog fracking opponent Lorraine Clair was arrested during the protest for mischief, assault a police officer and resisting arrest, according to New Brunswick RCMP.

Still, spirits were high among people from Elsipogtog who watched SWN’s trucks roll away as dusk began to set.

“It is a small victory, but a victory nonetheless,” said Brennan Sock, from Elsipogtog. “We will take anything right now. We got the trucks to leave, we managed to slow them down as much as we can.”

T’uma Bernard, a Mi’kmaq Warrior from Prince Edward Island, said he saw renewed unity among the demonstrators.

“It was a great victory, it was a great day,” said Bernard.

RCMP spokesperson Const. Jullie Rogers-Marsh said there were acts of vandalism throughout the day that are under investigation.

“A truck belonging to a private company working in the area and several pieces of equipment were damaged,” said Rogers-Marsh.

She said the RCMP had video of “somebody wearing a mask” pulling up geophones along Hwy 11. Rogers-Marsh there “also threats of illegal acts.”

Rogers-Marsh said the police officers are there to maintain public safety.

“Being safe and peaceful and lawful is very important and we are in the area continuing to monitor the situation,” said Rogers-Marsh. “Our role is public safety and we are there to protect everyone.”

Thumper trucks interact with geophones, which are strung along the ground, to create imagery of shale gas deposits underground.

In Fredericton, the Elsipogtog band was seeking an injunction to stop SWN arguing “outside radical elements” were converging “in significant numbers” as a result of the company’s continuing shale gas exploration.

The band’s filing said military forces are at play on the police side of the operation and warned a repeat of the Oct. 17 raid in Rexton, NB., by RCMP tactical units is looming.

“The circumstances combine to create a very real danger that, as active seismic exploration is recommenced in the coming hours and days, outside radical elements, the respondent SWN and the RCMP, other police and even military forces, all interact so as to cause a repeat escalation of the unacceptable and dangerous events that took place in Rexton,” said the filing.

The filing also names provincial Energy Minister Craig Leonard and the Assembly of First Nations Chiefs in New Brunswick (AFNCNB).

The filing argues that the province failed in its duty to consult and that the AFNCNB, which Elsipogtog gave authority to consult on its behalf, failed in its responsibility by “inaction and inadequate engagement.”

AFNCNB’s lawyer Mike Scully has told APTN National News that the province set the terms of the consultation and the AFNCNB had to act within those limited parameters.

While the band leadership will continue its legal battle in the courtroom Friday, the grassroots are vowing to be back on the pavement with their bodies to stop the thumpers.

“Nobody is going nowhere, they can’t bully us and use force tactics against the people of the land,” said Bernard.

Sock said people would be out all night keeping a watchful eye.

“We have a lot of people who are dedicated and will be out there all night to make sure they don’t come back,” said Sock.

news@aptn.ca

APTN: NB chiefs group, Mi’kmaq district council received contracts from SWN and Irving-owned security firm

SOURCE: http://aptn.ca/pages/news/2013/11/14/nb-chiefs-group-mikmaq-district-council-received-contracts-swn-irving-owned-security-firm/

NB chiefs group, Mi’kmaq district council received contracts from SWN and Irving-owned security firm

National News | 14. Nov, 2013 by | 0 Comments

NB chiefs group, Mi’kmaq district council received contracts from SWN and Irving-owned security firm

By Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
The main New Brunswick chiefs organization received a contract from a Houston-based energy company facing ferocious opposition from Elsipogtog First Nation residents over its shale gas exploration.

SWN Resources Canada also “did everything right” under the consultation process agreed to between the provincial government and the Assembly of First Nations Chiefs in New Brunswick, according to the lawyer for the chiefs organization.

The AFNCNB has been receiving funding from SWN for the past two years to provide environmental monitoring for the company while it explores for shale gas in the province, said Mike Scully, who is the consultation liaison for the AFNCNB.

Scully said six people have been hired to follow SWN’s workers as they work exploration lines in their search for shale gas deposits.

Scully also said that Industrial Security Ltd (ISL), which is on contract with SWN, issued a subcontract to the North Shore Mi’kmaq District Council for nine people to do “security related work” associated with SWN. Elsipogtog First Nation is not part of the district council which includes seven Mi’kmaq communities in the region.

The council includes the communities of  Bouctouche First Nation, Eel Ground First Nation, Eel River First Nation, Fort Folly First Nation, Indian Island First Nation, Pabineau First Nation and Metepenagiag First Nation.

ISL also subcontracted work to Chief to Chief Consulting. 

The Irving shadow

ISL is owned by JD Irving Ltd. and it is part of a corporate empire headed by the Irving family which dominates New Brunswick.  The Irvings have cast a large shadow over the ongoing Mi’kmaq-led anti-fracking protests.

Along with owning ISL, JD Irving also owns the compound at the centre of the RCMP’s heavily-armed Oct. 17 raid. The raid freed SWN’s trucks which were in the compound that had been blocked by an anti-fracking camp along Route 134 in Rexton, NB.

ISL is also expected to play a key role in the upcoming trial of six members of the Mi’kmaq Warrior Society. Some of the warriors face charges for allegedly confining up to seven employees of “Irving security” in a compound holding SWN’s vehicles on Oct. 16, according to RCMP charge sheets.

Irving Oil , which is operated independently from JD Irving, has an interest in seeing the development of shale gas deposits as a source of cheap energy to expand its refining capacity to handle Alberta mined bitumen which is expected to flow to the province if TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline project gets approved. TransCanada and Irving Oil announced a joint venture in August to build a new $300 million marine terminal in Saint John.

AFNCNB says forced to consult on NB’s terms

Scully couldn’t say how much money the contracts with ISL and SWN are worth.

Scully was asked to speak to APTN National News on behalf of the AFNCNB by Eel Ground First Nation Chief George Ginnish. Ginnish is co-chair of the AFNCNB.

Dozens of Elsipogtog residents and their allies turned back SWN’s exploration trucks Thursday after an hours long standoff involving the RCMP on Hwy 11, about 46 km north of the community. One woman was arrested for allegedly “causing a disturbance,” the RCMP said.

Elsipogtog Coun. Craig Sock said the band had also filed for an injunction Thursday against SWN with the New Brunswick Court of Queen’s Bench in Fredericton. Sock said the band is seeking to have a judge stop SWN’s work until the company conducts more consultation.

“They never did any consultation with our community,” said Sock.

Scully also said Elsipogtog gave the AFNCNB the mandate to conduct consultation on the community’s behalf about two years ago.

“The assembly has delegated authority from the member bands to conduct the procedural aspects of consultation on their behalf,” said Scully.

Sock said that delegated authority was signed over by a previous band council.

“This is a whole new chief and council and the community wasn’t consulted properly,” said Sock.

But Scully said SWN did everything it had to do under the phased in consultation process agreed to by the AFNCNB and the province which focused exclusively on exploration. Scully said SWN only received licenses from the province to explore which narrowed the scope of the consultation.

“In my view SWN did everything right,” he said.

Scully said the chiefs weren’t happy with that approach and wanted consultation on all aspects of the planned project, from exploration to extraction, but the province wouldn’t budge.

“(The province) asserted the decision was to issue permits for seismic exploration and that is the decision that technically and legally we were limited to consult on,” said Scully. “There is a reciprocal duty to consult…we didn’t like it but we worked within the parameters that were proposed.”

The AFNCNB have belated called on the province to suspend SWN’s licenses following the Oct. 17 raid.

Ginnish said in a statement that the “phased approach to consultation is incompatible with the Aboriginal perspective.”

The statement did not mention the AFNCNB receiving a contract from SWN as part of the consultation process or that SWN paid for AFNCNB staff to visit the company’s operations in Arkansas.

Scully said people from Elsipogtog also went to Arkansas on the company’s dime, but he would not reveal who they were.

jbarrera@aptn.ca

@JorgeBarrera

Canada’s largest energy union wants national fracking moratorium

Canada’s largest energy union wants national fracking moratorium

Posted November 14, 2013 by Damien Gillis in Economics

Canada's largest energy union calls for national fracking moratorium

First Nations and supporters protest fracking in Vancouver last month (Damien Gillis)

Canada’s largest private sector union, Unifor, has joined the growing chorus of concern over controversial shale gas development. The labour organization representing over 300,000 members in a wide range of economic sectors, including energy, is calling for a national fracking moratorium.

Unifor issued a statement from its 25-member National Executive Board Thursday raising concerns about the impacts of  shale gas development on the environment and on First Nations’ rights.

“Unconventional gas fracking has the potential to have catastrophic effects on our environment and economy. The safety risks are also a major concern for our union,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias.

Just because we can carry out this activity does not mean we should. We must enact a national moratorium on fracking activity.

Provinces pass fracking moratoriums

The call comes on the heels of provincial fracking moratoriums in Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador – and France’s recent national ban on shale gas.

Fracking has become a hot topic across the country in recent months.

In BC, a lawsuit against the provincial regulator over water permits for fracking was announced on Wednesday, while a high profile court case over water contamination winds its way through Alberta’s courts. The industry minister for the Northwest Territories is developing a new regulatory model for shale oil in advance of devolution, and fracking remains a highly controversial subject in New Brunswick, where First Nations recently clashed with the RCMP over exploratory work by an American company.

Support for First Nations

That last point was a key factor in Unifor’s decision to come out against fracking – as the union noted in its statement:

Any resource extraction industry in Canada must confront the problem of unresolved aboriginal land claims, and the inadequate economic benefits (including employment opportunities) which have been offered to First Nations communities from resource developments.

Despite the potential job benefits to its, members, Unifor remains highly critical of the shale gas industry, concluding:

Instead of being guided by short-term swings in prices and profits for private energy producers, Canada’s federal and provincial governments must develop and implement (in cooperation with other stakeholders) a national plan for a stable, sustainable energy industry that respects our social and environmental commitments, and generates lasting wealth for all who live here.

Council of Canadians calls for national fracking moratorium

Unifor’s call for a national moratorium echoes recent statements by public interest group The Council of Canadians.

Canada’s big energy workers’ unions are increasingly taking a critical look at the job promises from fossil fuel development. Watch this speech by president of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union, Dave Coles, at last year’s Defend Our Coast rally in Victoria, explaining why his members are “diametrically opposed” to Tar Sands pipelines to BC’s coast:

APTN: Security firm protecting SWN hired company owned by ex-con who claimed undercover work for RCMP in Akwesasne

SOURCE: http://aptn.ca/pages/news/2013/11/14/security-firm-protecting-swn-hired-company-owned-ex-con-claimed-undercover-work-rcmp-akwesasne/

Security firm protecting SWN hired company owned by ex-con who claimed undercover work for RCMP in Akwesasne

National News | 14. Nov, 2013 by | 0 Comments

(YouTube video posted in August shows Stephen Sewell in a heated argument with opponents to SWN Resources Canada’s shale gas exploration)

By Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
The security company hired by SWN Resources Canada to protect equipment during its controversial shale gas exploration project subcontracted work to a consulting firm owned by an ex-convict who claims he did undercover work for the RCMP in Akwesasne.

Industrial Security Ltd. (ISL), which is owned by JD Irving Ltd., subcontracted work to Chief to Chief Consulting, according to New Brunswick lawyer Mike Scully, who works for the Assembly of First Nations Chiefs of New Brunswick as the consultation liaison with SWN.

ISL has been conducting security for SWN, a Houston-based energy firm that is facing ferocious opposition to its shale gas exploration work from the Mi’kmaq residents of Elsipogotog First Nation.

ISL employees were also providing security for the JD Irving-owned compound holding SWN vehicles at the centre of an Oct. 17 raid by RCMP tactical units. The raid against a Mi’kmaq-led anti-fracking camp which was blocking the compound freed SWN’s vehicles.

Mi’kmaq fracking opponents were again facing off against the RCMP Thursday.

Chief to Chief Consulting was registered as a New Brunswick company on April 17 by Stephen Sewell, a Mi’kmaq man from Pabineau First Nation.  Sewell self-published a tell-all book describing his undercover work for the RCMP infiltrating smuggling networks in Akwesasne and the Hells Angels biker gang.

Scully said Chief to Chief Consulting had a total of nine people working under the contract for security-related tasks. Scully said the company was hired as “first responders and health and safety monitors” and to be “a buffer between the security (company) and the general public.”

Randy Wilson, director of corporate security for JD Irving, did not return a phoned and emailed request for comment from APTN National News on ISL’s decision to subcontract out work to Chief to Chief. APTN National News asked Wilson if Sewell’s claimed past work as an RCMP informant played any role in the decision to give the company a contract.

APTN National News contacted JD Irving’s media relations team and is still waiting for a response.

Elsipogtog First Nation’s former War Chief Gary Augustine is also employed by Chief to Chief.

Scully said he didn’t know exactly what Chief to Chief was doing at the moment or if they had any other contracts with SWN.

APTN National News contacted SWN’s office in Moncton seeking to speak to Sewell. The receptionist said Sewell was in the boardroom for a meeting, but wasn’t available to talk.

APTN National News has also left numerous messages over the past several weeks on Sewell’s home telephone voicemail.

Sewell spent time in federal and provincial jails for drug and violent crime while also claiming to have worked for the RCMP as an informant covered under the Witness Protection Program, according to his book, Abused, Addicted, Incarcerated: Canada’s Shame: The Autobiography of An Aboriginal Rebel. The book also describes his conversion to Christianity. It was published in 2011.

Sewell wrote that he served four years in the Dorchester penitentiary after being convicted on 21 domestic-related offenses against his ex-partner. The charges included putting a gun to the “back of her head” while telling her “she was going to die” while she was in “the fetal position and begging for her life.”

In the book, written under the pseudonym Chief Poison Feather, Sewell claims he never pointed the gun at the woman; he just took out a box containing the weapon and threatened to use it.

“I told her that she had better shut the fuck up and let it go or I was going to shut her the fuck up in my own way. She finally shut up, but the gun wasn’t even taken out of the box. That alone would have knocked two years off of my sentence because I was charged with pointing the firearm at her,” wrote Sewell.

Sewell claimed in the book he began working as an RCMP informant under the Witness Protection Program sometime in 1994. Sewell wrote that he signed a contract at the RCMP’s J Division headquarters in Fredericton, NB.

“I would start at $500 a week plus expenses, plus a five thousand-dollar pay-off at the end,” wrote Sewell.

Sewell wrote that he was eventually given tens of thousands of dollars by the RCMP for the undercover work he did for the federal police force which included infiltrating the Hells Angels biker gang on the East Coast.

Sewell claimed that his successful undercover work led the RCMP to send him to Cornwall, Ont., to infiltrate biker and Mafia-linked organizations in the city.

He said he was ordered to infiltrate the Mohawk community of Akwesasne, which straddles the Canada-U.S. border, under the name of “Stephen Sock.” The operation ran from 1995 to 1998, he wrote.

Throughout his description of his work infiltrating Akwesasne, Sewell dropped the names of well-known families and individuals in the community. Sewell wrote that he helped smuggle alcohol and cigarettes across the St. Lawrence River and all the way to Mohawk community of Kahnawake near Montreal. In the book, he includes a police surveillance image of a boat piloted by men with ski masks with the cutline: “Smuggling from New York to Ontario while working undercover.”

He also claimed to have taken part in gang rapes with the bikers.

“I always kept the RCMP abreast of the situation. They told me that if the victim doesn’t file a complaint, then they were not going to act,” wrote Sewell. “It was almost expected, even from the girls at these parties, that they would be used or even expected to satisfy anyone’s sexual urges.”

Sewell wrote that he worked with four undercover RCMP officers and they posed as criminal organization behind a business front called Paradise Construction Plus based in Montreal. According to Sewell, the operation ended in February 1998 and led to 18 arrests. He said the operation bought C-4 explosives, a rocket launcher, AK-47s, AR-15s and M11′s, grenades, dynamite, cocaine and “$7 million worth of heroin from Hong Kong.”

jbarrera@aptn.ca

APTN: RCMP officers arrest Elsipogtog woman as SWN’s thumper trucks return

SOURCE: http://aptn.ca/pages/news/2013/11/14/rcmp-officers-arrest-elsipogtog-woman-swns-thumper-trucks-return/

RCMP officers arrest Elsipogtog woman as SWN’s thumper trucks return

National News | 14. Nov, 2013 by | 0 Comments

RCMP officers arrest Elsipogtog woman as SWN’s thumper trucks return

(Elsipogtog resident Lorraine Clair arrested by RCMP officers Thursday morning. Photo courtesy of Charmaine Sock)

APTN National News
LAKETON, NB--A woman from Elsipogtog First Nation was reportedly arrested Thursday morning as SWN Resources Canada resumed its controversial shale gas exploration north of the community.

RCMP officers reportedly arrested Lorraine Clair, a high-profile Elsipogtog resident who has consistently opposed SWN’s exploration work.

New Brunswick RCMP spokeswoman Const. Jullie Rogers-Marsh confirmed one person was arrested for “causing a disturbance.” Rogers-Marsh said no charges have yet been laid.

“Things are continuing to be peaceful other then the arrest,” said Rogers-Marsh. “We are going to continue to stay in the area and monitor the situation. We are going to continue to ensure public safety.”

SWN’s thumper trucks returned to an area about 46 km north of Elsipogtog. The thumper trucks work with geophones, which were strung along Hwy 11 by SWN Wednesday, to capture images of shale gas deposits underground.

RCMP officers were videotaped loading riot gear earlier in the day in Moncton, NB, which sits about 100 km away from SWN’s current exploration area.

Heavily armed RCMP tactical units raided a Mi’kmaq-led anti-fracking camp on Oct. 17 to free SWN exploration vehicles which were trapped inside a compound owned by JD Irving Ltd.

 

APTN: Elsipogtog prepares to confront SWN’s machinery

National News | 13. Nov, 2013 by | 0 Comments

Elsipogtog prepares to confront SWN’s machinery

(Elsipogtog Warriors and supporters along Hwy 11 where SWN Resources Canada laid down geophone lines Tuesday. Photo courtesy of Charmaine Sock)

APTN National News
LAKETON, NB–Warriors from Elsipogtog First Nation were preparing Tuesday evening to confront the machinery owned by a Houston-based energy firm conducting shale gas exploration work just north of the Mi’kmaq community.

SWN Resources Canada is expected to roll out its thumper trucks Wednesday in an area along Hwy 11 and about 46 kilometres north of Elsipogtog First Nations. The company laid out a string of geophones Tuesday which will be used to capture the vibrations emitted by the thumper trucks to create imagery of shale gas deposits in the area.

The majority of residents in Elsipogtog want to stop SWN’s exploration work fearing its completion would lead to the extraction of shale gas deposits through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Several warriors and supporters gathered around a fire Tuesday evening along Hwy 11 preparing for Wednesday’s appearance of the thumper trucks. Several planned to stay at the site overnight, with some sleeping in tents and others beneath tarps strapped to branches.

“When the sun rises I will be there waiting,” said Sequoyah Bernard, 19, one of the Warriors. “Whatever we decided to do that at that time, we will do.”

Bernard said the tactic could simply be standing the way of the trucks.

“We are not planning anything violent, it will be peaceful, we are going to stand together,” said Bernard.

The RCMP warned people at the encampment earlier in the day that they would be charged with mischief if they impeded SWN’s machinery from doing its work, according to video of the encounter which was posted on Facebook.

Bernard said the threat of charges did little to dampen their resolve.

“With all due respect, we are not listening to what they say. If they want to run us over, they can try,” said Bernard.

Bernard said the RCMP was in the area and a cruiser with its lights flashing was parked nearby along the highway.

“It is just something I feel I have to do,” said Bernard. “I am here for my people, protecting my people. That is what my job title is here.

RCMP Const. Jullie Rogers-Marsh said the RCMP is monitoring the situation.

“Based on things that have happened previously, it would be irresponsible for us not to be in the area,” said Rogers-Marsh.

Rogers-Marsh said the RCMP is not there to protect SWN.

“We are not private security,” she said.

The Canadian military also tried to dispel rumours it’s involved in ongoing police operations in the area.

“Currently, there is no official request for military support to RCMP,” said Capt. Clayton Myhill, with the Canadian Joint Operations Command.

SWN referred calls to communications firm Cape Consulting. Calls to senior consultant Tracey Stephenson went to voice mail.

SWN is planning to conduct 14 days of exploration before leaving the region, according to one of the lawyers hired by the firm.

Michael Connors, who is a partner with East Coast law firm McInnes Cooper, met with several dozen people from Elsipogtog and the surrounding communities late Sunday afternoon. He said the company would resume operating their thumper trucks Wednesday.

Connnors said they would face violence if they confronted the company with a blockade.

“Unfortunately, blockades lead to violence,” said Connors, according to a video of the meeting posted on Facebook.

Elsipogtog War Chief John Levi told Connors that the community would not be backing down.

“We are going to be there. Whatever happens, the ball is in your court. Whatever happens, you’re the ones who are going to make the calls,” said Levi, according to the nine-minute video. “Us as Natives and the protectors of this land, we are going to protect it, it is our land, we never ceded this land and we are going to protect it before these waters are contaminated.”

A woman in the crowd, who identified as non-Native, also pledged opposition to the exploration.

“As non-Natives we are going to protect the future of our children,” said the woman, in the video. “So non-Natives and Natives are together.”

SWN has faced intense and prolonged opposition to its shale gas exploration work around Elsipogtog First Nation which exploded after heavily armed RCMP tactical units raided an anti-fracking camp along Route 134 on Oct. 17.The camp was blocking several of SWN’s vehicles which were in a compound owned by JD Irving Ltd.

While the raid freed SWN’s trucks, it sparked day-long clashes between Elsipogtog residents and the RCMP. Several RCMP vehicles were torched and about 40 people were arrested.

A camp still remains on Route 134, which sits about 15 km southeast of Elsipogtog.

People in Elsipogtog and surrounding communities fear the discovery of shale gas would lead to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The controversial extraction method is viewed by many as posing a dire threat to water sources.

WCNN: Heavy RCMP presence accompanies SWN’s return

From West Coast Native News SOURCE: http://westcoastnativenews.com/heavy-rcmp-presence-accompanies-swns-return/

Heavy RCMP presence accompanies SWN’s return

derrick on November 12th, 2013 6:45 pm – 1 Comment

A heavy RCMP presence is in an area Tuesday where a Houston-based energy company is expected to resume its controversial shale gas exploration.

About 30 people from Elsipogtog and their supporters have set up a camp near Hwy 11 by Laketon, NB., where SWN Resources is expected to begin laying down geophones in preparation for seismic testing set for Wednesday.

The exploration area is about 46 kilometres north of Elsipogtog First Nation.

Elsipogtog War Chief John Levi said the RCMP presence may be larger than what was witnessed during the Oct. 17 raid of an anti-fracking camp that was blocking SWN’s vehicles in a compound owned by JD Irving Ltd.

“You never know what they are going to do,” said Levi. “They might be shooting their real guns this time, that is what I am worried about.”

Levi said he’s been getting calls and texts all morning from an RCMP liaison officer trying to speak to him.

“I don’t feel like to talking to them right now,” said Levi.

RCMP Const. Jullie Rogers-Marsh said the RCMP is monitoring the situation.

“Based on things that have happened previously, it would be irresponsible for us not to be in the area,” said Rogers-Marsh.

Rogers-Marsh said the RCMP is not there to protect SWN.

“We are not private security,” she said. “We have no issues as far as protesting, everybody has a right to do it as long as they do it peacefully and don’t break the law.”

SWN referred calls to communications firm Cape Consulting. Calls to senior consultant Tracey Stephenson went to voice mail.

About a dozen Mi’kmaq Warriors camped out overnight along Hwy 11. The group was joined by reinforcements on Tuesday morning and people there gathered around a small fire keeping warm.

“Geophones are all set on the road, SWN is working really fast and the trucks and driving back and forth,” one of the people at the site told APTN National News.

SWN’s lawyer Michael Connors, who is a partner with East Coast law firm McInnes Cooper, met with several dozen people from the Elsipogtog First Nation and the surrounding communities late Sunday afternoon.

Connors told the people that SWN would withdraw a lawsuit against several community members if the Houston-based firm was allowed to finish its exploration work unimpeded.

The meeting was held at a longhouse erected at an anti-fracking encampment used over the past summer. The area sits off Hwy 116 near Elsipogtog First Nation.

Connors told the people in the longhouse that SWN would be working for 14 days and warned them not to block the company’s movements or they would face violence.

“I’m not asking anyone not to protest, but I am asking that we don’t do anything that would lead to violence,” said Connors, according to video of the meeting posted on Facebook by Brian Milliea. “Unfortunately, blockades lead to violence.”

Connors said SWN just wants to finish its work and leave the area.

“We don’t want violence and if we can get through two weeks then we will go away for awhile,” said Connors. “I am not saying we are not going to come back, we may not come back, but I think everybody needs some time, you know a break.”

Levi told Connors that the community would not be backing down.

“We are going to be there. Whatever happens, the ball is in your court. Whatever happens, you’re the ones who are going to make the calls,” said Levi, according to the nine minute video. “Us as Natives and the protectors of this land, we are going to protect it, it is our land, we never ceded this land and we are going to protect it before these waters are contaminated.”

A woman in the crowd, who identified as non-Native, also pledged opposition to the exploration.

“As non-Natives we are going to protect the future of our children,” said the woman, in the video. “So non-Natives and Natives are together.”

SWN has faced intense and prolonged opposition to its shale gas exploration work around Elsipogtog First Nation which exploded after heavily armed RCMP tactical units raided an anti-fracking camp along Route 134 on Oct. 17.

While the raid freed SWN’s trucks, it sparked day-long clashes between Elsipogtog residents and the RCMP. Several RCMP vehicles were torched and about 40 people were arrested.

A camp still remains on Route 134, which sits about 15 km southeast of Elsipogtog.

People in Elsipogtog and surrounding communities fear the discovery of shale gas would lead to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The controversial extraction method is viewed by many as posing a dire threat to water sources.

Currently, Mi’kmaq War Chief, John Levi, has sent out the following message: “Calling out on all the support swn coming back Tuesday and will be thumping by Wednesday need all the support and RCMP wants to block all the roads for 3 days even hwy 11.”

Georgina Brennan Sock also sent out a message to activists and their allies: “New camp site in Laketon has about 15 people surrounded by about 20 rcmp vehicles, and rcmp are scattered everywhere please come in numbers.”

In a broader movement to end shake gas exploration, Avaaz is hosting a petition for New Brunwickers to sign to convince the province to allow a referendum into fracking and hopefully a moratorium on fracking.

Major Elsipogtog benefit concert in Halifax, November 30

1461173_10100787431522921_382044849_n

From the Facebook notice:

As promised!! Elsipogtog Benefit Concert time and venue details for Halifax, Saturday, November 30th!! **2 parts, 2 venues, 2 mins from each other lol**

First Location:
Mi’kmaq Native Friendship Center
6-8:00pm: Cultural Showcase, Vendors & Silent Auction!

Our Cultural Showcase features an internationally renowned group of Mi’kmaq singers, Eastern Eagle, as our host drum group. We also have All Nations Drum Group, dancers from all powwow styles and a Hoop Dance Exhibition. The Silent Auction will include Artwork, Fancy Shawl and Jingle dresses, hand drums, earrings, and anything else people would like to donate to help the benefit raise funds. All vendors are welcome and can contact me to reserve a table!

Second Location:
The Marquee Ballroom (19&Up)
8pm-2am: Fashion Show, Stand-Up Comedy, Solo Singers and 4 Live Bands!

To start, we have one super funny Mi’kmaq.. who was recently voted as Halifax’s Best Comedian, nominated by the ECMA’s, and host of “The Candy Show”, Candy Palmater, as our nights event host!! The Fashion Show will showcase HeadRush, The Vault and InkStarz Native designs by “Natasha Patles” and “Dwayne Ward”- which will include both female and male Mi’kmaq models. We then have special guest, “Ryan McMahon”, a very hilarious Ojibway Comedian, who’s flying in from Winnipeg to do Stand-Up Comedy for us! Our stacked music line-up includes Listiguj’s very own “Melissa Girven” and “Gmanwolf Productions”, “Kicking Krotch”, and two Aboriginal Hiphop Music groups who were recently nominated by the East Coast Music Awards for Aboriginal Recording Of The Year, “City Natives” and “Black & Grey” to perform for us LIVE!!! 🎤

This is a great cause and one East Coast event you don’t want to miss!! You can contact myself, Shelley Young, Molly Jean Peters, Sarah Swasson, Charmaine Sock, Savvy Simon and Marina Ann Young if you would like to purchase tickets. You can also order them from me via EMT, and have them mailed to you right away. Tickets are selling fast, so get em before they’re gone.

APTN: SWN returning to thump Wednesday: Elsipogtog War Chief

SOURCE: http://aptn.ca/pages/news/2013/11/11/swn-returning-thump-near-elsipogtog-wednesday-war-chief/

APTN National News
ELSIPGOTOG FIRST NATION, NB–SWN Resources Canada is planning to resume its controversial shale gas seismic exploration work on Wednesday, according to Elsipogtog War Chief John Levi

Levi said SWN’s lawyer Michael Connors, who is a partner with East Coast law firm McInnes Cooper, met with several dozen people from Elsipogtog First Nation and the surrounding communities late Sunday afternoon.

Levi said Connors told the people that SWN would withdraw a lawsuit against several community members if the Houston-based firm was allowed to finish its exploration work unimpeded.

“We said no, we are going to be there,” said Levi, in an interview with APTN National News. “What we told him was we are going to be there Wednesday.”

The meeting was held at a longhouse erected at an anti-fracking encampment used over the past summer. The area sits off Hwy 116 near Elsipogtog First Nation.

Connors told the people in the longhouse that SWN would be working for 14 days and warned them not to block the company’s movements or they would face violence.

“I’m not asking anyone not to protest, but I am asking that we don’t do anything that would lead to violence,” said Connors, according to video of the meeting posted on Facebook by Brian Milliea. “Unfortunately, blockades lead to violence.”

Connors said SWN just wants to finish its work and leave the area.

“We don’t want violence and if we can get through two weeks then we will go away for awhile,” said Connors. “I am not saying we are not going to come back, we may not come back, but I think everybody needs some time, you know a break.”

Levi told Connors that the community would not be backing down.

“We are going to be there. Whatever happens, the ball is in your court. Whatever happens, you’re the ones who are going to make the calls,” said Levi, according to the nine minute video. “Us as Natives and the protectors of this land, we are going to protect it, it is our land, we never ceded this land and we are going to protect it before these waters are contaminated.”

A woman in the crowd, who identified as non-Native, also pledged opposition to the exploration.

“As non-Natives we are going to protect the future of our children,” said the woman, in the video. “So non-Natives and Natives are together.”

SWN has faced intense and prolonged opposition to its shale gas exploration work around Elsipogtog First Nation which exploded after heavily armed RCMP tactical units raided an anti-fracking camp along Route 134 on Oct. 17. The camp was blocking several of SWN’s exploration vehicles in a compound owned by JD Irving Ltd. in Rexton, NB.

While the raid freed SWN’s trucks, it sparked day-long clashes between Elsipogtog residents and the RCMP. Several RCMP vehicles were torched and about 40 people were arrested.

A camp still remains on Route 134, which sits about 15 kilometres southeast of Elsipogtog.

SWN was initially expected to resume its exploration work last Monday. Elsipogtog Chief Aaron Sock told reporters last Sunday that SWN’s lawyers had informed him the company was planning to finish its seismic exploration work along Hwy 11.

While community members mobilized to confront the company, the thumper trucks, which are used in the seismic exploration, did not appear.

Levi said Connors told the meeting that the company would be laying out geophones on a section of Hwy 11 on Tuesday and that the thumper trucks would return on Wednesday.

Geophones pick up the vibrations from thumper trucks to create imaging of shale gas deposits.

The exploration area is about 46 kilometres north of Elsipogtog.

People in Elsipogtog and surrounding communities fear the discovery of shale gas would lead to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The controversial extraction method is viewed by many as posing a dire threat to water sources.

“They are pretty desperate for trying to arrange something like that,” said Levi. “We are not taking the bait and we are going to be there protecting mother earth.”

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.

CBC: Idle No More group in Akwesasne protests fracking

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/idle-no-more-group-in-akwesasne-protests-fracking-1.2421198?cmp=rss

Idle No More group in Akwesasne protests fracking

CBC News Posted: Nov 09, 2013 2:45 PM ET Last Updated: Nov 09, 2013 3:47 PM ET

About a dozen people from an Idle No More group based on the Akwesasne Mohawk reserve are marching today against shale gas exploration.

They blocked the Seaway International Bridge, also known as the Three Nations Bridge, connecting Cornwall, Ont. and Massena, NY for about an hour early on Saturday afternoon.

The group gathered to raise public awareness about the dangers of fracking, the process used to extract gas from the earth by injecting fluid into shale rocks to release the natural gas inside.

The demonstrators also wanted to show solidarity with the Mi’kmaq protesters in Rexton, N.B., where tensions exploded three weeks ago after the RCMP tried to dismantle a blockade set up by protesters.

The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne posted a note to its Facebook page on Nov. 6 saying its members had met with the group of protesters prior to the march and they confirmed bridge traffic wouldn’t be disrupted.

The council said in the note that the group vowed instead to undertake an educational campaign and pass out leaflets during the demonstration. However, the protest veered onto the bridge, forcing local police to close it.

According to Cornwall police, the bridge has since re-opened and traffic is flowing freely.

No arrests have been reported so far. Akwesasne police were unavailable to comment.

Akwesasne straddles the border between Quebec, Ontario and New York.

 

Mi’kmaq Warriors Jailed Before Trial Plead Not Guilty

SOURCE: http://halifax.mediacoop.ca/newsrelease/19678

Mi’kmaq Warriors Jailed Before Trial Plead Not Guilty

Three Mi’kmaq Warriors Plead Not Guilty to Charges Stemming from Oct. 17th Violent Raid by RCMP

by Mi’kmaq Warrior Society

Moncton, NB—Three (3) members of the Mi’kmaq Warrior Society, held in custody since the day of the violent raid by RCMP officers on a peaceful anti-shale gas encampment, plead not guilty in the New Brunswick Provincial Courthouse on Friday Nov 8th.

Aaron Francis, Germaine “Junior” Breau and Coady Stevens have now been held in custody for three weeks, currently at the Southeastern Correctional Centre, with no date for trial set at this time.

Alison Menard, the lawyer who is representing the three Warriors in court says “We would like to see them get their trial dates as quickly as possible, as they have been remanded without a trial.”

The three young men have been refused access to phones and visits, and some have even been assaulted by corrections officers in custody.

“I know these men are not guilty of the charges being laid here by the Crown.” states Annie Clair, who is Junior’s mother and was also present the day of the raid, “They are peaceful men with good hearts. Thanks to everyone who has continued to give us the support we’ve needed.”

The courtroom was packed on Friday with supporters from Elsipogtog, surrounding Mi’kmaq communities, and non-native supporters from Moncton and elsewhere.

Susan Levi-Peters, former Chief of Elsipogtog says, “I am happy they have entered their plea of Not Guilty and I am saddened that they are still locked up for protecting our women and elders who were for fighting for our water and land.”

“Our warriors should be free, not locked up. We are not the savages”, states Susan in reference to RCMP treatment of Mi’kmaq people on the morning of the police raid, where police used sniper teams, and brought in officers from multiple provinces to enforce an injunction on the anti-shale gas encampment.  The former Chief of Elsipogtog goes on to say that the RCMP violated an agreement of Peace and Friendship made with the Mi’kmaq people only hours before, “As the trial begins, we will find out why the RCMP ambushed our people in the early hours of the morning when they had offered tobacco in Peace and Friendship the night before.” -30-

CTV: Protesters hope sacred fire will put a stop to shale gas exploration

CTV Atlantic
Published Wednesday, November 6, 2013 6:31PM AST

Anticipation is growing as protesters await the arrival of SWN Resources to resume shale gas testing in Rexton, N.B.

When they do, First Nations members plan to light a sacred fire that, according to tradition, can’t be crossed without permission for four days after it is lit.

“We believe there’s spirits there and ancestors arrive here to help use and to protect us,” says sun dancer Louis Jerome. “This is why the sacred fire is very important.”

Photos

Shale gas protesters gather in Rexton, N.B. on Nov. 6, 2013. (CTV Atlantic)

The protesters hope the lighting of the sacred fire will stop shale gas exploration in Rexton.

“They have to really respect that because we cannot move, even the RCMP, they can’t move that,” says Jerome.

Police say they don’t have a problem with the sacred fire, as long as it’s off the road.

However, police say the protesters could be breaking the law if they light the fire too close to the highway, which could endanger motorists and the public.

“I think it’s really important for people to understand that public safety is paramount and that anybody lighting a fire or blocking a road is certainly putting people’s lives at risk,” says RCMP Const. Julie Rogers-Marsh.

SWN Resources was supposed to resume shale gas testing this week but the easily recognizable thumper trucks are nowhere to be seen.

However, geophones lining sections of the highway suggest the company is present.

As support for the protesters continues to grow, it appears neither side is backing down.

On Tuesday, Premier David Alward reconfirmed his commitment to shale gas exploration and protesters reconfirmed their commitment to stopping it.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Jonathan MacInnis