HMC: Gone for the summer – SWN Resources Canada folds ’til September

Gone for the summer – SWN Resources Canada folds ’til September

Shale gas company allowed to detonate 11 more un-exploded shot holes – charges against 25 of 35 will be dropped.

by Miles Howe

» Download file ‘johnlevi.mp3’ (3.4MB)

Eslipogtog War Chief John Levi. [Photo: Miles Howe]
Eslipogtog War Chief John Levi. [Photo: Miles Howe]

ELSIPOGTOG, NEW BRUNSWICK – Minutes ago, afternoon negotiations between the RCMP, Elsipogtog Chief Arren Sock, Elsipogtog War Chief John Levi, former Elsipogtog Chief Susan Levi-Peters, Mi’kmaq Warrior Society Chief ‘Seven’ and others concluded with a few key announcements.

  • SWN Resources Canada will be permitted to detonate 11 un-exploded shot-holes along ‘Line 5’, the backwoods seismic testing line west of highway 126 that the company is currently attempting to test for shale gas. A team of observers from Elsipogtog First Nation, which will include 8 scouts, 3 Grandmothers and 2 Elsipogtog Peacekeepers will be tasked with observing the completion of SWN’s work. No more testing will be allowed for these remaining 11 shot holes.
  • Charges laid against 25 of the 35 arrested in the protests against SWN’s seismic testing will be dropped, pending an unmolested completion of SWN’s detonation work. This work is expected to be completed by Friday, August 2nd.
  • People who have already entered the court system will not have their charges dropped. These include Elsipogtog War Chief John Levi and activist Susanne Patles, as well as others.
  • SWN is expected to return to seismic test in Kent County in mid-September. It will then focus it’s efforts on lines ‘3’ and ‘4’. These seismic test lines are far closer to Elsipogtog First Nation, in some instances bordering the community by only a few kilometers. SWN’s earlier attempts to seismic test these lines resulted in significant equipment destruction.
Please enjoy the following interview with Elsipogtog War Chief John Levi.

CTV: Coverage of Non-Violent Civil Disobedience Training at Elsipogtog to Defend Kent County from Shale Gas

Click here for video: http://atlantic.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=969147&binId=1.1145463&playlistPageNum=1

HMC: A Week of Civil Disobedience Trainings in Elsipogtog

SOURCE: http://halifax.mediacoop.ca/blog/hillary/18294

A Week of Civil Disobedience Trainings in Elsipogtog

By Hillary Bain Lindsay
This week, dozens of people are learning how to use non-violent direct action to resist shale gas exploration in Kent County, NB.  Photo: Hillary Lindsay
This week, dozens of people are learning how to use non-violent direct action to resist shale gas exploration in Kent County, NB. Photo: Hillary Lindsay

Thirty people have been arrested in Kent County, New Brunswick this summer for resisting shale gas exploration in the region.  After a week of civil disobedience trainings, there’s likely to be dozens, if not hundreds more.

On Tuesday, over 50 people (including me) gathered at the Elsipogtog Fisheries Centre in Kent County.  We learned about non-violent direct action, practiced going limp when being arrested, strategized for effective protests, and talked about colonialism and treaty rights.

Participants were of all ages, both Native and non-Native, although the majority appeared to be white.

I asked Eliza Knockwood, a young mother from Abegweit First Nation in PEI, who has family in Elsipogtog and has been involved in the Sacred Fire encampment since early June, what she thought of the mix of people taking part in the trainings.

“We all have a common thread today.  It’s not just about being a black person or a Native person or white person,” said Knockwood.  “Today we are a people that are standing for a unified message.  We are asserting our human rights and our treaty rights…We as a peoples stand firm on Mother Earth to hold our ground, to hold our water sacred.  And each other.”

There was a sense of something significant happening, as Mi’kmaq warriors, Acadian grandmothers, and young people on summer holidays sat down and shared a potluck of bacon, watermelon, cornbread, and couscous.

But of course, it wasn’t that simple.  Barbara Low, a Mi’kmaq woman named the “elephant in the room” on Tuesday afternoon when she brought up the different realities people were bringing to the table.  She spoke about how Native people are criminalized and treated differently by police. She spoke about how the battle against fracking might simply be about the environment for white people, but for First Nations, it is about home, land and colonialism.

It seemed like this was a message that non-Natives present were starting to understand.

Sue Adams is part of anti-fracking organizing in her own community of Antigonish, Nova Scotia.  Resistance to shale gas exploration has not been the primary reason for her visits (this was her third) to Elsipogtog and the Sacred Fire, however.

“My main concern here at this time is First Nation treaty rights,” said Adams.  “The right to free, prior and informed consent.  Some of my friends here feel like that hasn’t been respected.”

Philippe Duhamel travelled from his home in Quebec to facilitate the trainings.  He has been involved in movements for social and environmental justice for decades and arrested more times than he can count.

He believes there’s something special happening around the Sacred Fire in Elsipogtog.

“What’s especially interesting is the coming together of the Maliseet, Mi’kmaq, the Acadians and the Anglophone New Brunswickers,” says Duhamel.   “To stand their ground against the destruction of millions of gallons of water and the fracking of wells, that we know now poison whole communities.”

Duhamel says he’s never seen a community organize so quickly or so effectively.

“I know it’s difficult.  I know we’re riddled with conflict,” he says.  “It’s very hard work.  But I see the promise here of developing a model to work interculturally to build a people’s movement to stop the land grab.”

“People here have a good chance of creating a model victory,” says Duhamel.  “By a model, I really mean something that can be replicated everywhere.  What are the ingredients of [effective] mass civil disobedience?”

Willie Nolan is hoping to find out.  Nolan lives in Kent County and has been working against shale gas in New Brunswick for over four years.  She’s been involved at the Sacred Fire since June 3, and is hoping her community is at a turning point.

“I’m hoping we’ll be able to collaborate and implement strategies that will force the industry to get out of here,” says Nolan.

But to do that, “We need more numbers,” she says.  “We will win, [but] we’ll win quicker the more people who are ready to jump on board and help.”

There is an open, non-violent direct action training at the Elsipogtog Fisheries Training Development Centre on Saturday.  To register, email aboriginalrights.atlantic@gmail.com with “REGISTER” in the subject line. Include your name, contact information, and that you would like to attend Saturday’s training.  



APTN: John Levi, war chief, speaks about anti-fracking protest

SOURCE: http://aptn.ca/pages/news/2013/07/12/john-levi-war-chief-speaks-to-aptn-about-anti-fracking-protest/

John Levi, war chief, speaks to APTN about anti-fracking protest

National News | 12. Jul, 2013 by | 0 Comments

CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO

APTN National News

He says he’s a warrior chief defending the land from environmental destruction.

John Levi leads a group from Elsipogtog First Nation in New Brunswick who are fighting against a fracking company looking for shale gas.

The battle may be unwinnable, but Levi isn’t giving up.

APTN’s Ossie Michelin has the story.

HMC: The problem with Line 5

SOURCE: http://halifax.mediacoop.ca/story/problem-line-5/18217

The problem with Line 5

Aerial surveillance shows SWN’s bush-cut seismic test line slashes through hunting grounds, sensitive areas

by Miles Howe

RCMP routinely block access to SWN Resource Canada's 'Line 5' [Photo: Miles Howe
RCMP routinely block access to SWN Resource Canada’s ‘Line 5’ [Photo: Miles Howe
Terrain in line 5 is relatively pristine, and comprises traditional Mi'kmaq hunting grounds. [Photo: Miles Howe]
Terrain in line 5 is relatively pristine, and comprises traditional Mi’kmaq hunting grounds. [Photo: Miles Howe]
Aerial surveillance notes that SWN has begun to cut a seismic test line through the bush. The coordinates for the northern head of the line are: N 46 41.155 W 65 32.699 [Photo: Miles Howe]
Aerial surveillance notes that SWN has begun to cut a seismic test line through the bush. The coordinates for the northern head of the line are: N 46 41.155 W 65 32.699 [Photo: Miles Howe]

See also:

ELSIPOGTOG – Large caravans of pick up trucks, fuel trucks, security trucks and a variety of other equipment continue to depart from the Moncton Holiday Inn on a daily basis. SWN’s contracted workers, the majority of whom are currently employed by Houston-based company Geokinetics, have been residing at the Holiday Inn for weeks now.

The daily pattern for most workers, as of this week, is a 6:45am visit to the Tim Horton’s counter at the local gas station. They then begin the process of organizing themselves for the 93 kilometer journey north along highway 126 to Rogersville. Some pieces of equipment do exit the highway earlier than Collette road, just north of Rogersville. It is not currently established where they work for the day.

The majority, as of July 10th, now take the Collette road exit. Equipment is usually flanked by security trucks, who, despite the illegality of the action, have been known to block Collette road against any non-SWN associated traffic. The majority of the security force is at the moment employed by Irving-owned Industrial Security Limited.

What happens then is a bit of a mystery. The equipment, which includes at least two ‘shot-hole’ drillers, is supposed to be running a north-south seismic testing line, with the Collette road entrance to the line representing near the northerly extremity of the line.

Due to continuous RCMP assistance in blocking access to the roads, aerial surveillance and walking scouts currently represent amongst the only means of gathering information as to the progress of the seismic line.

Both means of data gathering have painted an as-yet incomplete picture of the work, but scouts along the southern tip of the line report east-west cross roads having been flagged and laid with drilled charges. Whether all these charges have been detonated or not is unknown.

To the north of the line, aerial data gathering has indicated that SWN has moved slightly to the east of the seismic line route they have publicly presented in available maps. Instead, they appear to have begun to carve themselves a north-south clear cut line that begins at coordinates N 46 41.155 W 65 32.699. How far this line goes and where equipment is on this line is currently unknown.

This seismic line cuts squarely through traditional Mi’kmaw hunting grounds, and it is not uncommon to spot moose, deer, bear, fox and porcupines wandering through the terrain. The northern section of the line also appears to have some sizeable wetlands in it, and the line itself is on the Northern tip of the Richibucto River watershed.

The Richibucto watershed, according to a 2008 Ecosystem Overview published by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, is the fourth largest river basin in Eastern New Brunswick.

The watershed is also not particularly well-suited to industrial incursions. The peat moss industry, by no means comparable to the water-intensive process of hydraulic fracturing, has notably caused chemical and heavy metal contamination of the watershed, as well as threats to the ecosystem productivity, threats to aquatic fauna and changes to behaviour in aquatic species.

According to the Shale Gas Information Platform, a typical hydraulically fractured well requires anywhere from 10 to 30 million litres of water per well. The consequences of removing this much water, per well, from the Richibucto watershed – and walking scouts suggest there are scores of potential wells along line 5 alone – are not known.

With only the Atlantic Industrial Services plant in Debert, Nova Scotia, available to potentially ‘treat’ this water, what will happen to all the post-hydraulically fractured water is also not known. The Debert plant has a maximum capacity about equivalent to two fractured wells, and has already been caught dumping over 7 million litres of untreated post-hydraulically fractured water down the municipal sewer system in Windsor, Nova Scotia.

HMC: John Levi Free after weekend in prison

SOURCE: http://halifax.mediacoop.ca/story/john-levi-free-after-weekend-prison/18210

John Levi Free after weekend in prison

Crown stumbles in attempt to incarcerate Elsipogtog war chief, asks that he give no advice to community.

by Miles Howe

Levi and his soon-to-be wife share a hug upon his release. [Photo: Miles Howe]
Levi and his soon-to-be wife share a hug upon his release. [Photo: Miles Howe]

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MONCTON, NEW BRUNSWICK – It was standing room only today in courtroom 2 of the Moncton provincial courthouse, as supporters of Elsipogtog War Chief John Levi came to show solidarity with one of the key voices against SWN Resouces Canada’s attempts to explore for shale gas in Kent County, New Brunswick.

Levi, who had been imprisoned since Friday, July 5th – on charges of mischief and obstructing justice related to events of June 21st – appeared today for a bail hearing, and it was clear from the outset that the Crown would be arguing against Levi’s release.

Levi’s charges had also breached the conditions of a May 30th, 2012, conditional sentence, related to an altercation with Department of Fisheries officers, where it is alleged that one officer hit Levi’s son with a paddle.

Crown prosecutor Roy – from the outset ill-prepared in forgetting to share her documentation with defense lawyer T.J. Burke – argued against Levi’s release, based on the Crown’s estimation that Levi was likely to re-offend, as well as that his detention was necessary to maintain confidence in the justice of the Crown.

Roy’s first witness was a Constable Berube, who testified that Levi had “a history of violence against police officers and officers of the law.” Berube – apparently – based this determination upon the altercation with fisheries officers, a June 4th, 2013, seizure of a Stantec truck in Elsipogtog, as well as the alleged charges related to June 21st.

Burke was quick to reduce Berube’s testimony to little more than ill-formed conjecture. Berube had not been present at the altercation between Levi and the fisheries officers; no charges had ever been laid related to the June 4th truck seizure; nor was there any damage to people or property; nor was there any proof that Levi had even driven the seized truck. As for the charges related to June 21st; they are currently nothing more than allegations.

Roy’s second witness, Troy Sock, was Levi’s probation officer. It is unclear why Roy called Sock to the stand as a Crown witness, because the probation officer was quick to endorse Levi’s character as an “ideal client” who was “timely and showed up to every meeting”.

Sock noted that for the past 13 months Levi had met every one of fifteen conditions laid out for him in his conditional arrest, including several calls daily to Sock during an initial 6 months of house arrest.

T.J. Burke’s only witness to the stand was John Levi. Those in attendance learned that Levi had been sober for over 5 years, was readying himself for his duties as a Sun Dance leader, and was slated to be married to his partner of over 27 years – and the mother of their three children – in late July.

Roy’s cross-examination of Levi appeared to be based more in a curiosity for a traditional way of life than any possibility of proving that the War Chief was likely to re-offend. At one point Roy asked Levi: “What is a smudge?”

Roy also appeared interested in trying to bait Levi in strange, philosophically-based questions related to his opinions on protesting. She asked several times whether Levi though that protesting was “an absolute right.”

For the record, Freedom of Assembly is embedded in Section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights of Freedoms.

Recognizing that the Crown’s case to keep Levi incarcerated was beat, Roy then appeared to turn to the fantastic in what must be interpreted as a Hail-Mary attempt to keep the War Chief muzzled.

In asking for conditions to be applied to Levi upon his release – in what may well be a first in any Canadian court of law at any level – Roy asked that Levi “not be allowed to provide advice to any member of the community.” This request provoked guffaws and chortles of laughter from the packed courthouse.

At this point both Burke and the judge agreed that this would be in effect removing Levi’s constitutional right. No one, Crown included, seemed to know exactly how they would in fact ensure that this condition was met.

Finally, it was agreed that Levi would be released immediately, with no bail. His conditions are to keep the peace and be on good behaviour, and not be within 100 meters of SWN Resources Canada’s equipment.

Upon release, Levi was met by a cheering crowd of about 60 people.

CPT: Warrior Chief John Levi released from custody

Source: Christian Peacemaker Teamshttp://www.cpt.org/cptnet/2013/07/08/aboriginal-justice-warrior-chief-john-levi-released-custody

ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: Warrior Chief John Levi released from custody

July 8th, 2013

CPTnet
8 July 2013
ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: Warrior Chief John Levi released from custody

John Levi
Chief John Levi (photo by Greg Cook SJ)

Warrior Chief John Levi is free on his own recognizance.  After a hearing held on the Crown’s request to have him remain incarcerated, the presiding Judge ordered his immediate release with the stipulation that he remain 100 meters away from SWN corporation equipment or any of its subcontractors’ machinery and equipment.

Many native and non-native people packed the courtroom to show their support; court officials permitted people to stand in the back as the seats filled up.  When Levi’s case was called, and as he entered the courtroom, people stood in unison.  His supporters had also done so on Friday, 5 July, at the initial hearing.  A different judge heard the matter today, and he ordered spectators to remain seated, saying he would clear the courtroom if they did not follow proper court decorum.

The Crown prosecutor attempted to show that should the court release Levi, a substantial likelihood of future criminal conduct existed and that detention was necessary to maintain “confidence and administering justice.”  The Crown’s own witness, Levi’s supervising probation officer, testified to the contrary.

The judge emphasized in his decision that Levi’s probation officer called him an “ideal client,”  noting, “we don’t hear that very often.”  Levi was subject to fifteen conditions when convicted for a 2011 violation when he was trying to exercise his treaty fishing rights.  He received an eighteen-month conditional discharge sentence. Levi has met fourteen of the fifteen conditions  and completed thirteen months of the eighteen month sentence, with “no problems.”

As for the condition that the Crown alleges Levi has breached (to keep peace and be of good behavior), the judge noted that Levi has not been convicted of any wrongdoing and the testifying RCMP officer had no first-hand knowledge of the facts leading to the arrest.  The Crown had called the ‘duty officer’ and not the arresting officer, which apparently, is standard.  Levi’s probation officer also testified that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) called him Thursday, 4 July advising him that they were filing charges and asked “what he needed from them” to “lay a breach” petition.

As for the charges of mischief and obstruction, the Crown is clearly attempting to criminalize and penalize Levi’s supposed standing in the community.  The Crown alleges that Levi incited and encouraged people to be arrested on 21 June (those arrests form the basis for the obstruction charge).  The Crown attorney noted that Levi bears the title “Warrior Chief,” that people stood up in court today to support him when he walked in and that the courtroom was packed with supporters, which means people look to him to guide their actions.  The Crown even asked that the judge order Levi not give advice to anyone in the community.  The judge was not amused with this request.

The Crown’s entire presentation demonstrated a fundamental lack of awareness and knowledge pertaining to traditional Mi’kmaq practices, especially as it relates to the title “Warrior Chief,” the nature of leadership within the community, the ceremonial practice of smudging, and the forthcoming Sundance ceremony.

The next hearing will occur on 31 July at 9:30 a.m.