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.

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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.

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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.

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