HMC: Prelude to the Raid: Interview with Warrior Society District chief suggests Irving-owned security, RCMP, engaged in pre-October 17th charge trumping


Prelude to the Raid

Interview with Warrior Society District chief suggests Irving-owned security, RCMP, engaged in pre-October 17th charge trumping.

by Miles Howe

Why did this Industrial Security Limited employee approach a sacred fire, while armed, on October 15th? [Photo: Miles Howe]
Why did this Industrial Security Limited employee approach a sacred fire, while armed, on October 15th? [Photo: Miles Howe]

REXTON, NEW BRUNSWICK – The dominant police-fuelled discourse circulating is that on October 17th, the police were forced to raid an armed camp of anti-shale gas protestors along highway 134, near Rexton, New Brunswick.

Adding fuel to this narrative is the fact that the police have laid several charges, ranging from threats to assault to unlawful confinement, in relation to events that they claim occurred on October 15th and 16th.

The end result is a story in which the RCMP, despite drawing in Emergency Response Teams from Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and New Brunswick; despite raiding an until-then peaceful encampment with guns drawn in the pre-dawn on the 17th; despite firing numerous rounds of less-lethal ammunition into unarmed people at point blank range; and despite spraying men and women with pepper spray, were simply de-escalating a tense situation.

However, an interview with Signigtog District War Chief Jason Augustine – himself present at the encampment since it’s inception, and now facing numerous charges – begins to peel back the layers of the RCMP’s imagery, and presents a very different recounting of events that occurred over October 15th and 16th.

It’s a story that shows a clear attempt by Irving-owned Industrial Security Limited to taunt and bait members of the Warriors Society on October 15th and 16th – in some cases going directly against already-negotiated agreements that existed between the Mi’kmaq Warriors Society and the RCMP – in order to create a fiction in which the Warriors could be later charged with a variety of accusations that supposedly occurred on those two days.

It’s also a story that shows the RCMP negotiating in extremely poor faith..

Since late September, 2013, Irving-owned Industrial Security Limited was the main security unit patrolling the fenced-in compound where SWN Resources Canada’s equipment was being held along highway 134. Generally, and for the duration of the life of the encampment, there were between about four and ten security guards patrolling the fenced-in area.

The fenced-in compound had one main gate, at the corner closest to the access road to highway 134. But the fence around the compound itself was not a permanent structure, and pieces could quickly be latched and unlatched, creating make-shift gates at any desired point.

Indeed, because the one main gate opened onto the 134 access road, which had become one of the main traffic points of the encampment, Augustine notes that the Warrior Society and the RCMP had earlier negotiated that ISL shift changes would take place via an already-built back road that opened onto an off-ramp of highway 11.

ISL guards would leave the fenced-in compound at the extreme opposite corner of the compound, about 200 meters from the main gate, through a make-shift gate. This was a scenario that had been taking place in good faith for numerous days prior to October 15th.

“We had already set a negotiation [regarding] the backside [of the compound]”, says Augustine. “We made them a road where [ISL workers] could go in and back out. And each time the shift change started there were always two Warriors and four RCMPs [to escort the workers]. We negotiated that with Denise Vautour and Marc Robichaud (two of the RCMP’s negotiators). We negotiated that and we all said ‘That’s pretty good, we’re in a working [compromise] right now.’”

Yet on October 15th, in a situation that Augustine cannot remember happening during the duration of the encampment, an ISL security guard, later identified as former New Brunswick Highway Patrolman Gary Flieger, opened the front gate of the fenced-in compound and began wandering around an area of the encampment where a sacred fire had been lit.

He had crossed a line of cedar that had been placed on the gravel road in front of the sacred fire, and was standing – armed, according to Augustine – in front of the fire. This was where Coady Stevens, another member of the Warriors Society, found Flieger.

It is of particular importance to note that – according to Augustine – the Warrior Society and the RCMP had even negotiated for the possibility that an ISL security guard would want to come and pray at the sacred fire. The guards could come and pray any time they wanted, but neither they, nor anyone else, was permitted to bring weapons of any kind to the sacred fire.

“[ISL] already knew,” says Augustine. “When we negotiated the first time, when an ISL worker comes out to the sacred fire – because they were welcome, anytime they were welcome – as long as they don’t have any weapons. [But] they could come and pray with us anytime they want. And that was part of the negotiations. They could come out at any time and pray with us, or go out the back way and shift change then.”

Augustine describes a brief altercation that then took place, one that he suggests Flieger took to a physical level. But for one quick push of Flieger, and for escorting Flieger back through the front gate of the fenced-in compound, Coady Stevens – who remains incarcerated and who was denied bail – faces charges of assault, threats and unlawful confinement. All these charges are, of course, pre-October 17th.

Lost in the dominant narrative is why Flieger left the front gate of the compound on the morning of the 15th and wandered, armed, to a sacred fire. Lost also is how, with an already-built back gate that was frequently used, any of this constitutes unlawful confnement.

There was no shift change taking place at the time. Indeed shift changes took place at the exact other end of the fenced-in compound. If Flieger wanted to pray at the sacred fire, not something he had done during any of his other shifts, Augustine suggests that he was welcome to do so – provided he approached the fire unarmed.

This is especially problematic if, as Augustine suggests, RCMP negotiators Denise Vautour and Marc Robichaud had already negotiated these terms in good faith with the Warriors.

Augustine notes that on the evening of the 15th, RCMP negotiator Denise Vautour again texted him, asking about the altercation that had happened.

“On the night of the 15th I got a text from Denise [Vautour] saying ‘What’s going on down there? How come a Warrior is pushing ISL?’” says Augustine. “Right off the bat we told them ‘Hold it. ISL came out to the sacred fire with his weapon out. Remember when we negotiated that they’re not supposed to have weapons around the sacred fire.’ She said ‘OK, we didn’t know that.’ Then she asked if we could meet. I said ‘Yes, we’ve got to meet and talk about this and resolve this as quick as possible, in a peaceful way’…That night we all agreed that: ‘Yes, everything is peaceful again. Let’s keep it that way.’”

The morning of the 16th, apparently, was out of the ordinary as well. Augustine notes that ISL staff was being especially belligerent to the Warriors who were stationed at the fence.

“When I came out I told [ISL]: ‘Whoa guys you have to be peaceful,’” says Augustine. “This was from the RCMP. I told them right of the bat that we’d been negotiating all this time for peace, and that you guys have to cooperate with us.”

Several Warriors have been charged with threats related to the 16th of October. It is assumed that these charges are related to this series of verbal altercations.

Augustine notes that the Warriors had also already negotiated with the RCMP in order to create a neutral ‘no-go’ zone around the fenced-in compound, in order that ISL security working within the fenced-in compound would not be verbally harassed by over-exuberant activists.

“It was always a concern for their safety too,” says Augustine. “We wanted them safe, because we knew that they were only there for their jobs.

“That morning, when things were escalating, right off the bat we went to Denise [Vautour] and Marc [Robichaud] and said ‘You’ve got to help us. These guys are not being peaceful. You guys have got to help us bring in the RCMP instead of ISL.’”

Mid-morning of the 16th, another meeting was held between the Warriors Society and the RCMP. In effect, what was being negotiated was a replacement of ISL security – which over the last two days had begun to act in an aggressive manner – with an RCMP contingent that would either remain in the fenced-in compound or patrol the ‘no-go’ zone – and monitor SWN’s equipment. In the interim, Augustine notes that he asked for the Warriors to vacate the ‘no-go’ zone to de-escalate the situation.

According to Augustine, after analyzing the situation, RCMP negotiators Vautour and Robichaud came to a similar conclusion as the Warriors: It was ISL security who was escalating the situation, not the Warriors.

“Denise [Vautour] and Marc [Robichaud] came along and said: ‘Jason, the RCMP are coming now, they’re going to take [ISL] out for you. We finally realized that they’re the problem too.’ So they were taken out right away.”

Augustine notes that the security duty exchange between ISL and RCMP took place between 3 and 4pm.

By the night of the 16th, Aboriginal RCMP negotiators had been brought in, supposedly in an attempt to calm the situation. Augustine again notes that these new negotiators, a constable ‘Fraser’ from Saskatchewan and a constable Walter Denny from Nova Scotia, confirmed with him that it was ISL security who was acting in a provocative and aggressive manner.

“Fraser and Denny] said: ‘These guys were very disrespectful, and on your guys’ part, you guys were just here trying to keep the peace,” says Augustine. “'[ISL] was so disrespectful that they were even disrespectful to us, because we were Natives.’”

With RCMP officers now replacing the “disrespectful” ISL security force, Augustine notes that the Aboriginal RCMP negotiators made further attempts to court peace with the Warriors.

“That night, around 10pm, constable Fraser and constable Denny came up to us. They wrapped tobacco in red felt and told us: ‘From now on it’s going to be peaceful.’ And they handed me the tobacco,” says Augustine. “They handed it right to me and said: ‘This is for peace. We understand that you guys only want peace. So everything’s going to be peaceful now. Negotiations have to start now.’

“We took the tobacco, me and Jim [Pictou]. We all shook hands. And we gave them tobacco too. I took tobacco out of my cigarette pack, broke it, and gave one to Walter [Denny] and one to Fraser and I told them ‘Yes, it’s now peaceful now.’ I took the tobacco back to our sacred bag. We had a bag full of a lot of our sacred stuff; sweet grass, sage, buffalo sage and all the medicines that we have there. And they left.”

Having successfully negotiated for the removal of the ISL security team, to be replaced by a patrol of RCMP officers, and having been given tobacco by two Aboriginal negotiators who allegedly confirmed the disrespectful nature of the Irving-owned employees, Augustine notes that the rest of the evening of the 16th, up until the morning of the 17th, was entirely uneventful.

The raid of the 17th , in which dozens of RCMP officers surrounded the Warriors encampment with a variety of weaponry already drawn, was a surprise to Augustine, both in terms of the amount of armaments, but more importantly in terms of the RCMP’s intent of the night before.

“That morning when I woke up to do my traffic control, I started about 6:30,” says Augustine. “I got my coffee ready and I didn’t even start drinking my coffee when the RCMP came out with guns drawn on us. The night before was peaceful. Even the RCMP was kind of happy that it was peaceful now. Nobody was escalating. Everybody was laughing. Everybody was drumming. Even the RCMP would drive by and wave to us. They knew it was peaceful.

“But all of a sudden that October 17th morning…Holy. All of a sudden they came up with guns drawn…Where’s that peace?”

When analyzing the potential of ISL – and their Irving paymasters – knowingly crafting a scenario involving trumped up charges against members of the Warriors Society, all the while working in collusion with the RCMP – and their Crown paymasters – it is also important to remember that a public hearing against SWN’s injunction against protestors was set for the morning of October 18th in Moncton.

The injunction named all of New Brunswick – under John and Jane Doe – as being potentially on the legal hook for inhibiting SWN’s access to it’s seismic testing equipment. Pre-18th legal opinions put forward on social media sites suggested that the injunction didn’t have a legal leg to stand on – indeed the injunction was subsequently overturned – but it did serve the purpose of intimidating activists concerned about their own estates from attending the encampment.

The 18th, and the potential of the public hearing overturning the injunction, presented a situation that may well have seen a surgin renewal of people at the highway 134 encampment. Crafting a narrative to negate that potential through strange actions, including having ISL guards leaving a front gate not used for shift changes and approaching a sacred fire while armed, and taunting Warriors who had made a habit of not only peacefully escorting ISL security during shift changes, but feeding the guards with home-cooked meals, resulted in a series of pre-raid charges.

Just the narrative needed for a pre-18th raid.

With these charges in their back pocket, the RCMP was free to create an ‘escalating tension’ scenario that they could then feed to a mainstream press. Coupled with the photogenic imagery of burning police cars and a press conference with a table full of armaments – neither of which can be yet, if ever, attributed to members of the Warriors Society – and the justification for the pre-dawn raid was set.

According to Augustine, from one side of their mouths RCMP negotiators spoke of peace, offered gifts and agreed that it was ISL security who was the incendiary side of the equation. All the while, however, a series of pre-raid charges, which still hang over numerous members of the Warriors Society, was being levied against them.


Emergency Advisory: Mi’kmaq say, “We are still here, and SWN will not be allowed to frack.”


Sacred Fire blockade to begin at noon on Nov. 4

Emergency Advisory
For Immediate Release

Mi’kmaq say, “We are still here, and SWN will not be allowed to frack”

What: Sacred Fire blockade in response to SWN development
Where: Highway 11, outside of Laketon, NB
When: Monday, Nov. 4 at 12pm

Media Contact: Amanda Lickers, 705-957-7468

ELSIPOGTOG — The Elsipogtog community and the people of the Mi’kmaq nation are responding to SWN’s stated intention to resume shale gas exploration in New Brunswick. Community members and traditional people will come together to light a Sacred Fire to stop SWN from passing, in order to ensure that the company cannot resume work to extract shale gas via fracking. The Sacred Fire will last a minimum of four days and is supported by the Mi’kmaq people and the community of Elsipogtog. This comes as part of a larger campaign that reunites Indigenous, Acadian & Anglo people.

This is also an act of reclamation, as Mi’kmaq people are using the land in a traditional way, and are exercising their treaty rights, which includes ceremonial practices. The Mi’kmaq people have not been sufficiently consulted over shale gas exploitation and do not support SWN working on their territory.

The Sacred Fire blockade is also supported by the Mi’kmaq Warrior Society and the Highway 134 encampment.

“SWN is violating our treaty rights. We are here to save our water and land, and to protect our animals and people. There will be no fracking at all,” says Louis Jerome, a Mi’kmaq sun dancer. “We are putting a sacred fire here, and it must be respected. We are still here, and we’re not backing down.”

CBC: Stage set for shale gas showdown

SWN Resources to resume exploration this week while aboriginal leaders vow to continue protests

By Jacques Poitras, CBC News Posted: Nov 04, 2013 6:37 AM AT Last Updated: Nov 04, 2013 6:37 AM AT

It could be another contentious week in New Brunswick on the issue of shale gas development.

Premier David Alward has confirmed that SWN Canada is planning to resume exploration for shale gas in Kent County in the coming days and weeks.

John LeviElsipogtog warrior chief John Levi says protests will start again if SWN Resources resumes exploring for shale gas this week. (Jacques Poitras / CBC)

​And that has prompted warnings from aboriginal activists that there will be more protests in an attempt to stop the company.

Continue reading

CBC: N.B. First Nation says it will take land claims to court


The chief of the First Nation at the centre of an ongoing dispute over shale gas development says his community will go to court to try to take control of Crown lands in New Brunswick.

Elsipogtog First Nation Chief Aaron Sock made the announcement Thursday after meeting with the Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo.

“It’s gone past the SWN stuff,” Sock said, referring to the dispute between protesters and SWN Resources Canada. “It’s gone past the fracking. Right now, we’re at a point, we’re staking claim to the lands. We’re reclaiming the ownership and that’s where it’s at. Let’s settle it once and for all. Let’s go to court.”

‘At the end of the day, the real question is the title of the land.’– Elsipogtog First Nation Chief Aaron Sock

Sock said he and his community members came to the decision after prayer and discussion. They say legal action is the only way to resolve the impasse with the province.

Sock said the concern shouldn’t be with blocking roads or fighting with companies.

“Because at the end of the day, the real question is the title of the land,” he said. “Once we can distinguish who actually is the rightful owner, then we can start talking about extracting natural resources.”

CBC’s Jennifer Choi reported that if legal action is taken, all shale gas development in New Brunswick could be put on hold.

‘Longstanding non-recognition’

Atleo said Thursday the federal government must work with all bands to ensure treaties are implemented in the aftermath of violent clashes last week between the RCMP and members of the Elsipogtog First Nation near Rexton.

NB Shale Gas Protest 20131021Chief Aaron Sock of the Elsipogtog First Nation says legal action is the only way to resolve the impasse with the province. (Canadian Press)

He told CBC News from Elsipogtog that the dispute is about “a long-standing non-recognition of treaties that were forged before Canada was even formed, that the United Nations Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples reflects back to Canada are still in full force and effect. And that the people of Elsipogtog, like indigenous nations across Canada, have the right to free, prior and informed consent over all aspects of their lives, including on issues of resource development.”

Some members of Elsipogtog were arrested a week ago when the RCMP enforced a court-ordered injunction at the site of a protest outside a compound where SWN Resources stored exploration equipment and vehicles. Police said they seized guns and improvised explosive devices when they enforced the injunction to end the blockade of the compound.

Six police vehicles were burned and police responded with pepper-spray and fired non-lethal beanbag-type bullets to defuse the situation.

Atleo said the situation in New Brunswick provides an opportunity to spark discussion and action.

First Nations have won over 150 court cases across the country, he said. “This is why we’re pressing all levels of government, particularly the federal and provincial governments, to sit down meaningfully with First Nations on a nation-to-nation, treaty-by-treaty basis, to work together to see the implementation of those treaty nights, which belong to First Nations and in fact they belong to all Canadians as well.”

Paul Martin weighs in

Former prime minister Paul Martin also weighed in on Thursday, saying that there has been inadequate consultation between First Nations and government over resource development.

He said the federal government has ignored fundamental issues that the First Nations have asked them to address for “quite some time.” The provincial government has defended its level of consultation, but Martin said it hasn’t been enough.

“Consultation isn’t simply a question of saying all of a sudden, ‘We want to do something, let’s go in,'” he said from Fredericton, where he was receiving an honorary degree from the University of New Brunswick. “Consultation is something that you build on; you’ve got to build confidence in order for it to function.”

6 remain in jail

Meanwhile, six men arrested during the Rexton clash remain in jail as bail hearings proceed at a snail’s pace.

The six men — David Mazerolle, Jason Michael Augustine, Coady Stevens, Aaron Francis, Germain Junior Breau, and James Sylvester Pictou — face 37 charges, including uttering threats, forcible confinement, and obstructing a police officer. The Crown spent Tuesday and Wednesday presenting evidence in the case.

On Thursday, bail was denied for Stevens. He was remanded and scheduled to appear in court on Nov. 1 to enter a plea to the charges against him.

The six were among 40 people arrested when RCMP broke up a weeks-long protest against shale gas exploration on Route 134 in Rexton. The protesters were preventing SWN from accessing seismic testing vehicles and equipment in its compound in the area. The exploration company had obtained a court injunction ordering that it be allowed access to its vehicles and be allowed to carry out exploration work without harassment.

Susan Levi-PetersSusan Levi-Peters thinks the slow pace of bail hearings for six men arrested in the Rexton protests is a delaying tactic. (CBC)

The slow pace of the bail hearings had supporters crying foul. About 40 people, many from Elsipogtog First Nation, have been in court to show support for the accused.

“It’s too long,” said former Elsipogtog chief Susan Levi-Peters. “This is the seventh day the boys, the men, have been incarcerated.

“I think they need to find out if they are going to be let out on bail or not and we have to put up money or not, but we’re here to get our men and we want our men home.

“It’s just a delaying tactic,” she said. “Just release them and then we’ll go to trial”.

Non-native protesters are also upset. Peter Dauphinee believes the police wanted to send a message with their intervention in the protest on Route 134 on Oct. 17

“I think the whole thing was to scare the protesters — ‘People that want to protest, stay away,'” said Dauphinee.

At a bail hearing, there are three grounds the Crown can use to ask that an accused be held in custody:

  • There is a significant chance the accused may flee.
  • There is concern the accused may reoffend.
  • The public would lose confidence in the administration of justice if the accused were released on bail.

The Crown’s arguments can not be reported due to a publication ban involving the evidence presented in the bail hearing.

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


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.

Rabble: Mi’kmaq and Elsipogtog First Nations resistance like a bright sunrise


| October 24, 2013

Only a week ago, the Mi’kmaq and Elsipogtog First Nations were under siege by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) as the force acted upon an injunction to shut down an anti-fracking blockade.

Early that Thursday morning, hundreds of RCMP officers — some dressed in camouflage and assuming sniper positions in the woods surrounding the protest camp — moved in to clear out the highway and surrouding area near the town to Rexton, New Brunswick.

The Mi’kmaq Warriors Society’s encampment and highway blockades were in response to SWN Resources which was seeking to scan the traditional territories of the Indigenous in the region with seismic trucks to determine the potential for fracking shale gas from the ground.

Discontent with SWN Resource’s gas exploration has been going on in the area since June of this year, when community members began to take action against the potentiality for the fracking of shale gas.

Fracking is essentially a natural resource extraction technique that fractures an area of rock with a pressurized liquid. In this case, the fracking would release natural gas — SWN is currently in the process of using large trucks with seismic equipment to locate natural gas deposits.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is the process of extracting natural gas from shale rock layers deep within the earth. Fracking makes it possible to produce natural gas extraction in shale plays that were once unreachable with conventional technologies. Recent advancements in drilling technology have led to new man-made hydraulic fractures in shale plays that were once not available for exploration.”

On Monday October 21, 2013, New Brunswick premier, David Alward, publically stated that he hopes SWN Resources will be able to resume its operations in peace.

Monday was also the day activists learned that the injunction against them had been removed by the courts.

SWN Resources had gone to the courts and first issued the activists an injunction on Wednesday October 2, 2013, regarding the blockades and the seizure of SWN equipment. The RCMP had thus moved in and raided the area, removing the blockade and clearing out the Mi’kmaq Warrior Society’s camp.

But now, since there is no longer the warrior camp nor the blockade and since SWN has retrieved the equipment, there is no longer any part of the injunction to enforce.

In enforcing the injunction with the RCMP, over 40 people were arrested with some still behind bars. Six police vehicles were set on fire. Police were pelted with stones as scuffles broke out between the two opposing forces. A few Molotov cocktails were thrown at police lines in the early morning. Activists on the front lines faced pepper spray, rubber bullets and police dogs during the standoff. Once the SWN vehicles were removed and the blockade cleared, the RCMP left the scene.

Opponents of fracking contend that it takes an estimated 1-8 million gallons of water to complete each fracturing job and 40,000 gallons of chemicals. That is a lot of pollution.

So essentially, if you drink water, then fracking is an issue you should be concerned with.

Digging deeper into the relationship between First Nations communities and the government — which should be a nation-to-nation relationship — Indigenous rights activists contend that the territory in question was never ceded to Canada.

It also should be noted that, “ever since 2010, when New Brunswick handed out 1.4 million hectares of land — one-seventh of the province — to shale gas exploration, opposition had been mounting.”

Now that the police raid is over and the injunction lifted against his people, Elsipogtog Chief Arren Sock said his community is ready to forgive the RCMP after what he calls “horrendous” treatment.

“One of the things that our community does well is heal,” said Chief Sock at a Monday morning press conference. ”The Mi’kmaq are always a forgiving people, and that goes for Elsipogtog as well.”

More on the good news front, Mi’kmaq warrior, Tyson Peters, will most likely not face the amputation of his leg due to an injury sustained after being shot by the RCMP with less-than-lethal rounds.

I don’t know how much the RCMP action against the Mi’kmaq and Elsipogtog Nations has cost and it is estimated that hundreds of police were deployed for last Thursday morning’s raid.

I do know that when Harper gave his latest throne speech, he promised a “renewed effort” to ending the frightening tragedy of violence and murder against Indigenous women in Canada.

What if all the money, officers and resources were redirected from police actions against First Nations communities towards bringing justice to missing and murdered Indigenous women?

Krystalline Kraus's picture

krystalline kraus is an intrepid explorer and reporter from Toronto Canada. A veteran activist and journalist for, she needs no aviator goggles, gas mask or red cape but proceeds fearlessly into the democratic fray. This blog is about organizing and activism in Canada in a post-G20 world.

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.


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