APTN: Amanda Polchies, the woman in iconic photo, says image represents ‘wisp of hope’

Amanda Polchies, the woman in iconic photo, says image represents ‘wisp of hope’

National News | 24. Oct, 2013 by | 0 Comments

 TO VIEW VIDEO, CLICK HERE: http://aptn.ca/pages/news/2013/10/24/amanda-polchies-woman-iconic-photo-says-image-represents-wisp-hope/

APTN National News
It’s a picture that has been viewed around the world.

And helped define the events of the raid on an anti-fracking barricade in Rexton, New Brunswick last week.

It’s a photo of a Mi’kmaq mother kneeling in front of a line of riot police.

APTN’s Ossie Michelin now with her story.

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Rabble: Everything you need to know about Elsipogtog

Everything you need to know about Elsipogtog

| October 23, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 flickr/flailingphantasm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Out of order: Indigenous protest and the rule of law

| October 21, 2013

Out of order: Indigenous protest and the rule of law

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Solidarity!: Maine trans and/or women’s action camp occupying Irving Corporation’s Portsmouth, NH HQ

SOURCE: http://twac.wordpress.com/2013/10/21/maine-trans-andor-womens-action-camp-occupying-irving-corporations-portsmouth-new-hampshire-headquarters/

MAINE TRANS AND/OR WOMEN’S ACTION CAMP OCCUPYING IRVING CORPORATION’S PORTSMOUTH, NEW HAMPSHIRE HEADQUARTERS

Posted: October 21, 2013 in Uncategorized

UPDATE 12:52p.m. All cop cars are gone. Unconfirmed belief that pain compliance was used to remove the lockdowners.

UPDATE 11:46 Cops have the whole building blocked off, no visuals on the lockdowners.

UPDATE 11:43,  Oil has mysteriously spilled on Irving’s private parking lot.

UPDATE 11:42,  All protesters, except those locked have been removed from the premisses.

UPDATe: 11:37 Lock downers are under arrest, but are still locked in.

UPDATE 11:29am Irving owns the parking lot to the building, outside protesters are being told they will be arrested if they don’t leave the property.

UPDATE 11:21am Chief of police has just arrived.

UPDATE 11:18am Two banners dropped at near by bridges:

“Irving, exploiting native land and water”

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“Fracking: Drilling, Killing, Spilling”

Screen Shot 2013-10-21 at 12.06.34 PM

UPDATE 11:12am protesters, pushed out of building by police leaving lockdowners with out any support

Call Portsmouth police to demand they release the arrested protesters with out charges (603) 436-2511

UPDATE 11:05: Direct support for the lockdowners have been arrested, other support pushed outside the building.

UPDATE 11:02: First arrest has been made

UPDATE 11:01am: police have arrived, threatening arrest.

UPDATE 11:00am: banner  inside Irving headquarters

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MAINE TRANS AND/OR WOMEN’S ACTION CAMP OCCUPYING IRVING CORPORATION’S PORTSMOUTH, NEW HAMPSHIRE HEADQUARTERS

In solidarity with New Brunswick First Nation’s Fracking Protest

BREAKING Portsmouth, New Hampshire Irving Corporation Headquarters: this morning dozens of activists participating in the Trans and/or Women’s Action camp (TWAC) are occupying an Irving Corporation Headquarters. Dozens of activists are currently occupying the office to present their demands to Irving officials. Ten activists are “locked down” using a combination of lock boxes and u-lock kryptonite bike locks. These activists will occupy the office until demands are met or they are forcibly removed. This action comes after a three day long event where women, transgender, gender queer, and gender variant activists from Maine and other parts of the North East come together to learn political organizing skills with a focus on direct action civil disobedience, Protesters have brought a list of demands and refuse to leave the building until they speak with Kevin Flemming, Chief Strategy Officer, David Glassberg, Chief Legal and Governance Officer, or another high ranking Irving official. This office occupation is in solidarity with the Mi’kmaq First Nation’s current road blockade in Elsipogtog, a protest against fracking exploration by SWN Resources Canada that is currently taking place on their traditional lands without their consent.

The Mi’kmaq First Nations have been defending their land with a road blockade since September 30th. On October 17th there was a violent attempt to raid their encampment by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Irving oil supports fracking exploration on First Nations land by allowing SWN Resources to store their equipment in an Irving owned compound, and reports state that natural gas that comes off of Elsipogtog land would go to the Irving refinery in New Brunswick. Please see our attached list of demands for more information on Irving’s practices.

“What is happening to the Mi’kmaq and Elsipogtog First Nations in New Brunswick is horrific. The indigenous people of this continent have experienced violent occupation and genocide for over 500 years, and the situation in New Brunswick is a continuation of that occupation and genocide. The very least we can do as non-native allies is put our legal status on the line to expose Irving’s connection to this horrific situation and learn how to most effectively be non-compliant to the colonial domination of indigenous people. The Canadian government and all corporations involved need to respect indigenous sovereignty and immediately stop any fracking exploration.” -Christine Allium, TWAC Organizer.

TWAC Maine supports indigenous sovereignty, community self reliance, healthy and flourishing ecosystems, an end to corporate domination, and racial and gender justice.

APTN: Solidarity with the Mi’kmaq people all over Canada

CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO: http://aptn.ca/pages/news/2013/10/21/solidarity-mikmaq-people-canada/

APTN National News
Demonstrations have been on going across the country in support of the anti – fracking protestors in New Brunswick.

From British Columbia to the east coast hundreds of Aboriginal and non – Aboriginal activists have been hitting the pavement to show they’re in solidarity with the Mi’kmaq people.

As APTN’s Shaneen Robinson reports, it looks like a resurgence of the Idle No More movement.

APTN: Route 134 camp cleared, burned-out cruisers moved if RCMP grounds surveillance flights: Elsipogtog War Chief

Route 134 camp cleared, burned-out cruisers moved if RCMP grounds surveillance flights: Elsipogtog War Chief

National News | 21. Oct, 2013 by | 0 Comments

Route 134 camp cleared, burned-out cruisers moved if RCMP grounds surveillance flights: Elsipogtog War Chief

By Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
ELSIPOGTOG FIRST NATION–The remaining encampment along Route 134 that was the scene of a heavily-armed raid Thursday will be dismantled if the RCMP grounds its surveillance aircraft, said Elsipogtog’s War Chief John Levi.

Levi said stopping the surveillance flights would be an act of good faith and allow people in the community to heal.

Levi said he spoke with RCMP officers Sunday who also wanted free passage to remove the burned-out shells of their vehicles torched during Thursday’s raid.

“I told them, get rid of that plane. We are trying to heal and you are still there poking us with a stick,” said Levi. “They are not willing to call off the plane and I told them I am not backing them up on cleaning up their mess. It works both ways, when you negotiate something, you get something.”

He said he came away frustrated from the meeting, but hoped to convince the police to do the right thing Monday.

“Let our people heal, don’t agitate any more, it is so simple,” said Levi. “Yet they can’t even do that.”

New Brunswick RCMP could not be reached for comment.

Levi is the war chief specifically for Elsipogtog and is not connected to the Mi’kmaq Warrior Society which was in charge of security at the encampment at the time of the RCMP raid by camouflaged tactical units.

Levi was a prominent spokesperson for Elsipogtog’s anti-fracking movement throughout this past summer.

Levi said there are plans to move the encampment and light a sacred fire in an open area used during the summer. The area, which was once the nerve centre of the region’s anti-fracking movement, sits just off Hwy 116 which runs through Elsipogtog First Nation’s territory.

“We are planning on going to the 116 where the sacred fire was before and do our healing there and get ready for the next round,” said Levi.

Levi said there is no longer any point to the Route 134 encampment after the raid freed the exploration trucks it was blocking.

“There is no sense to being on the side of the road, it’s only a danger for our people,” said Levi.

Many of the Warrior Society’s core members were among the 40 arrested during the raid. At least two involved in its leadership are still in custody. The RCMP also seized three hunting rifles, ammunition, knives and crude improvised explosive devices.

The encampment is less than a kilometre away from a high school.

“For the safety of the students there, we don’t want anything to escalate here anymore,” said Levi.

Levi said he’s never advocated the use of weapons or violence.

“I told my supporters, let’s kill them with kindness. The only weapons we carry are drums, sweetgrass and sage,” said Levi.

A community meeting was held in Elsipogtog Sunday afternoon to discuss the trauma experienced by community members as a result of the raid.

Levi said the community hall would remain open 24-7 throughout the week for people who need counselling as a result of the events.

“We have to help our people heal,” said Levi, in an interview with APTN National News by the burned out police cruisers as the RCMP’s surveillance plane circled overhead.

Elsipogtog Chief Arren Sock also asked the community to allow RCMP members to return to the detachment on the reserve, said Willi Nolan, from Elsipogtog.

“There is great disappointment, there is mistrust of (the RCMP by) the people,” said Nolan.

Nolan said Thursday’s raid, which triggered widespread chaos and clashes between police and demonstrators, left many people shaken.

“The community suffered terrible trauma. We saw our elders, youth and women being injured, being hurt by the police because a corporation wants to poison everything,” she said. “They saw what the law does.”

But there was another sentiment just beneath the pain, said Nolan.

“It was also celebratory. One elder said, ‘we are winning,’” she said. “Even though it doesn’t feel like it now, it feels like we are all traumatized, but he said we are winning and I want to believe him.”

The encampment along Route 134 continued to hum with life late Sunday evening as volunteers split and piled fire wood while others sat around fires chatting and smoking cigarettes. In one area, a group of warriors were called into a circle and told that their job was not to instigate, but to keep the peace.

There was an air that this could all continue indefinitely, even as they opened the road back to two lanes of traffic. The day before, over 100 Mi’kmaqs and their supporters marched from the site and for about an hour blocked Hwy 11, which passes over Route 134.

Some people, who did not want to be named, criticized the meeting held earlier in the day. One long-time supporter said he thought the meeting was going to map out the next steps in the protest and came away disappointed. He said he planned to dig in for the long haul.

Assembly of Manitoba Grand Chief Derek Nepinak visited the site late Saturday night and attended the meeting Sunday after participating in a ceremony on the community’s Sundance grounds with Sock. The two exchanged gifts and smoked a peace pipe.

Nepinak said he suspected there was collusion between the RCMP and Houston-based SWN Resources Canada, which had its vehicles trapped by the encampment. SWN is conducting shale gas exploration in the region. Shale gas is extracted through fracking, a controversial method many believe poses a threat to the environment.

“How is it that during this process that the company was able to come in untouched and remove their equipment?” said Nepinak. “There was obviously a degree of collusion.”