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

SOURCE: http://halifax.mediacoop.ca/story/prelude-raid/19596

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.”

SOURCE: http://halifax.mediacoop.ca/newsrelease/19570

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

SOURCE: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/n-b-first-nation-says-it-will-take-land-claims-to-court-1.2223423

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

 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.

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

SOURCE: http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/krystalline-kraus/2013/10/activist-communique-mikmaq-and-elsipogtog-first-nations-res

| 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 rabble.ca, 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.

 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

HPC: Elsipogtog Protest: We’re Only Seeing Half the Story

SOURCE: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/leanne-simpson/elsipogtog-racism_b_4139367.html

In the mid-1990s I moved to Mi’gma’gi to go to graduate school. I was expecting to learn about juvenile Atlantic salmon on the Miramichi River. I was naive and misguided. Fortunately for me, the Mi’kmaq people saw that in me and they taught me something far more profound. I did my first sweat in the homeland of Elsipogtog, in the district of Siknikt. I did solidarity work with the women of Elsipogtog, then known as Big Cove, as they struggled against imposed poverty and poor housing. One of them taught me my first song, the Mi’kmaq honour song, and I attended her Native Studies class with her as she sang it to a room full of shocked students.

I also found a much needed refuge with a Mi’kmaq family on a nearby reserve. What I learned from all of these kind people who saw me as an Nishnaabeg in a town where no one else did, was that the place I needed to be wasn’t Mi’gma’gi, but in my own Mississauga Nishnaabeg homeland. For that I am grateful.

Nearly every year I travel east to Mi’gma’gi for one reason or another. In 2010, my children and I travelled to Listuguj in the Gespe’gewa’gi district of Mi’gma’gi to witness the PhD dissertation defense of Fred Metallic. I was on Fred’s dissertation committee, and Fred had written and was about to defend his entire dissertation in Mi’gmaw (Mi’kmaq) without translation — a ground breaking achievement. Fred had also kindly invited us to his community for the defence. When some of the university professors indicated that this might be difficult given that the university was 1300 km away from the community, Fred simply insisted there was no other way.

He insisted because his dissertation was about building a different kind of relationship between his nation and Canada, between his community and the university. He wasn’t going to just talk about decolonizing the relationship, he was determined to embody it and he was determined that the university would as well. This was a Mi’kmaw dissertation on the grounds of Mi’kmaw intellectual traditions, ethics and politics.

The defense was unlike anything I have ever witnessed within the academy. The community hall was packed with representatives from band councils, the Sante Mawiomi, and probably close to 300 relatives, friends, children and supporters from other communities. The entire defense was in Mi’gmaw lead by community Elders, leaders and Knowledge Holders — the real intellectuals in this case.

There was ceremony. There was song and prayer. At the end, there was a huge feast and give away. It went on for the full day and into the night. It was one of the most moving events I have ever witnessed, and it changed me. It challenged me to be less cynical about academics and institutions because the strength and persistence of this one Mi’gmaw man and the support of his community, changed things. I honestly never thought he’d get his degree, because I knew he’d walk away rather than compromise. He had my unconditional support either way. Fred is one of the most brilliant thinkers I’ve ever met, and he was uncompromising in his insistence that the university meet him half way. I never thought an institution would.

All of these stories came flooding back to me this week as I watched the RCMP attack the non-violent anti-fracking protestors at Elsipogtog with rubber bullets, an armoured vehicle, tear gas, fists, police dogs and pepper spray. The kind of stories I learned in Mi’gmagi will never make it into the mainstream media, and most Canadians will never hear them. Instead, Canadians will hear recycled propaganda as the mainstream media blindly goes about repeating the press releases sent to them by the RCMP designed to portray Mi’kmaw protestors as violent and unruly, in order to justify their own colonial violence. The only images most Canadians will see is of the three hunting rifles, a basket full of bullets and the burning police cars, and most will be happy to draw their own conclusions based on the news – that the Mi’kmaq are angry and violent, that they have no land rights, and that they deserved to be beaten, arrested, criminalized, jailed, shamed and erased.

The story here, the real story, is virtually the same story in every Indigenous nation: Over the past several centuries we have been violently dispossessed of most of our land to make room for settlement and resource development. The very active system of settler colonialism maintains that dispossession and erases us from the consciousness of settler Canadians except in ways that is deemed acceptable and non-threatening to the state. We start out dissenting and registering our dissent through state-sanctioned mechanisms like environmental impact assessments. Our dissent is ignored. Some of us explore Canadian legal strategies, even though the courts are stacked against us. Slowly but surely we get backed into a corner where the only thing left to do is to put our bodies on the land. The response is always the same — intimidation, force, violence, media smear campaigns, criminalization, silence, talk, negotiation, “new relationships,” promises, placated resistance and then more broken promises. Then the cycle repeats itself.

This is why it is absolutely critical that our conversations about reconciliation include the land. We simply cannot build a new relationship with Canada until we can talk openly about sharing the land in a way that ensures the continuation of Indigenous cultures and lifeways for the coming generations. The dispossession of Indigenous peoples from our homelands is the root cause of every problem we face whether it is missing or murdered Indigenous women, fracking, pipelines, deforestation, mining, environmental contamination or social issues as a result of imposed poverty.

So we are faced with a choice. We can continue to show the photos of the three hunting rifles and the burnt out cop cars on every mainstream media outlet ad nauseam and paint the Mi’kmaq with every racist stereotype we know, or we can dig deeper. We can seek out the image of strong, calm Mi’kmaq women and children armed with drums and feathers and ask ourselves what would motivate mothers, grandmothers, aunties, sisters and daughters to stand up and say enough is enough. We can learn about the 400 years these people and their ancestors have spent resisting dispossession and erasure. We can learn about how they began their reconciliation process in the mid-1700s when they forged Peace and Friendship treaties. We can learn about why they chose to put their bodies on the land to protect their lands and waters against fracking because setting the willfully ignorant and racists aside, sane, intelligent people should be standing with them.

Our bodies should be on the land so that our grandchildren have something left to stand upon.

iPolitics: History comes back to haunt in New Brunswick

SOURCE: http://www.ipolitics.ca/2013/10/21/history-comes-back-to-haunt-in-new-brunswick/

By | Oct 21, 2013 6:59 pm | 0 Comments

A police vehicle is seen in Rexton, N.B. as police began enforcing an injunction to end an ongoing demonstration against shale gas exploration in eastern New Brunswick on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013. Police say at least five RCMP vehicles were destroyed after they were set ablaze and at least one shot was fired by someone other than a police officer at the site of the protest in Rexton. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Hey, Canada. We need to talk.

Specifically, we need to talk history – because too many of us don’t know about important parts of it. Without that history, it’s impossible to understand exactly what happened when the RCMP stormed First Nations protestors in Rexton, New Brunswick, last week.

First of all, let’s review what happened. In March 2010, SWN Resources Canada — a subsidiary of a Texas energy company — was granted a license to search one million hectares in New Brunswick. Since this summer, protesters — including members of the Elsipogtog (ell-see-book-toq) First Nation — have been fighting SWN’s plans to search for shale gas. To do that, they blocked access to SWN equipment.

SWN went to court to obtain an injunction against the protestors earlier this month. On Oct. 12, that injunction was extended to Oct. 21; hearings were due to be held on Oct. 18 on the possibility of extending the injunction further.

Instead, on Oct. 17, the RCMP stormed the protestors in full riot gear to enforce the injunction. Forty people were arrested, including Elsipogtog Chief Arren Sock. Protestors reported that the RCMP pepper-sprayed elders and fired rubber bullets. One protestor was so badly injured that he risks losing his leg.

That’s the recent history. Now, let’s go back a little further.

The government’s relationship with First Nations in New Brunswick is governed in part by the Peace and Friendship Treaties of 1760-1761. Those treaties aren’t just historical documents: The promises contained in them are protected by Section 35 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The contents of those treaties are extremely important to understanding the Rexton protests.

Unlike later treaties signed with other First Nations in Canada, the Peace and Friendship treaties did not surrender First Nations’ rights to their land. As a result, the Mi’kmaq and Maliseet First Nations continue to claim title to their traditional territory — including the land on which the blockade occurred.

Title to the land is an issue, then. But even in cases where First Nations haven’t proved they have title to disputed land, the government still has a duty to consult with them and accommodate their interests. Elsipogtog protesters have maintained that the New Brunswick government hasn’t adequately consulted with them over SWN’s search for shale gas.

Too many Canadians don’t know this context; without it, the Rexton protests are much harder to understand. The protestors have demonstrated such persistence — and such frustration — because this looks like just one more example of the government failing to meet its duties to First Nations people. These protests aren’t just about fracking or a lower court injunction; they’re about the most basic agreements on which our country was founded, the most fundamental laws of our country.

Frustration at the government’s failure to uphold its own laws isn’t limited to New Brunswick. This past weekend, the Alberta government decided to stay the course on its decision to keep two First Nations groups out of consultations regarding a new oilsands proposal. Métis Local 1935 and the Fort McKay First Nation both filed statements of concern about a proposal for a 6,000-barrel-per-day oilsands project 20 kilometres from a Fort McKay reserve, but have been excluded from hearings.

A judge from Alberta’s Court of Queen’s Bench encouraged the government to widen its consultation process. But why would the Alberta government let a petty thing like the law get in the way of oilsands development?

That’s not to mention the still-unresolved frustrations that launched Idle No More in December of last year, including the lack of consultation by the federal government on important decisions, the terrible housing conditions on too many reserves, and Ottawa’s continued refusal to hold a full national inquiry on missing and murdered indigenous women.

Our federal government has established a pattern of ignoring its obligations to First Nations — and that’s not something that can be resolved through lip service. In fact, the situation of Canada’s indigenous people is so bad that James Anaya, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Aboriginal People, termed it a “crisis” when he concluded his eight-day visit to Canada last week, only two days before the RCMP stormed Rexton.

Unfortunately, the response to the Rexton protests has shown a marked lack of contextual understanding. For many people, it seems, history on this issue begins and ends with burned-out cop cars.

Media coverage of the Rexton protests has shown that, for too many Canadians, it’s shamefully easy to forget about our historical obligations to First Nations. If we’re serious about resolving future disputes peacefully, we need to do a much better job of remembering our history.

Devon Black is studying law at the University of Victoria. In addition to writing for iPolitics, Devon has worked for the Canadian International Development Agency, Leadership Africa USA and RamRais & Partners.

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….

AJA: Shale gas company loses bid to halt Canada protests

After last week’s protests over gas exploration turned violent, a judge ruled that demonstrations may continue
Topics:
Environment
Canada
Energy
Fracking protest
Members of the Elsipogtog First Nations group protest a shale-gas project near Rexton, New Brunswick, Thursday.
Courtesy 95.9 Sun FM, Miramichi, New Brunswick

A Canadian court ruled Monday to deny an energy company’s request for a permanent injunction to prevent interference with shale-gas exploration in New Brunswick. The ruling allows protests to continue and for demonstrators to once again occupy roads used by energy-company vehicles.

Justice George Rideout issued a ruling in the Court of Queen’s Bench against the motion of Texas-based Southwestern Energy, known as SWN Resources in Canada.

An informal coalition of First Nations and nonnative protesters had blocked a road to prevent the company from continuing its exploration. The judge did not state the reasons for his decision but said a written statement would be issued.

SWN Resources, which did not respond to Al Jazeera’s request for comment, argued in court that the protest was costing the company $60,000 a day.

The barricade and protests, part of a wider movement by dozens of local community groups that have opposed fracking there for years, began last month on Route 134 near Rexton, about 515 miles east of Montreal.

The protests gained international attention last Thursday when an anti-fracking protest blocking the company’s activities in New Brunswick turned violent.

“This is not just a First Nations campaign. It’s actually quite a historic moment where all the major peoples of this province — English, French and aboriginal — come together for a common cause,” David Coon, head of the Green Party in New Brunswick, told Al Jazeera. “This is really a question of justice. They want to protect their common lands, water and air from destruction.”

A temporary injunction was issued on Oct. 3 ordering the protesters to leave. This resulted in negotiations with the provincial government, local residents opposed to fracking and First Nation leaders — but did not end the protest.


‘When cops show up with guns and pepper spray and arrest 40 people and take a situation that’s been peaceful and attack them — then suddenly it’s a big story,’ Bennet said.

Last Thursday, over 100 Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officers arrived with guns and dogs to enforce the injunction, resulting in violent clashes.

The RCMP reported it had seized weapons from some of the protesters and that protesters had torched police vehicles. Activists said the RCMP moved in aggressively — firing tear gas and pepper spray and setting dogs on them; about 40 protesters were arrested.

“In New Brunswick over the last three or four years, there have been continual meetings and demonstrations against shale-gas exploration, so clearly the people are not in support of the fracking industry coming to their province,” John Bennet, executive director of the Sierra Club Canada, told Al Jazeera.

He said the protests have been going on for years and have always been peaceful. He said he tried to get the media to cover the protests before but could not generate interest.

“Suddenly last Thursday, when cops show up with guns and pepper spray and arrest 40 people and take a situation that’s been peaceful and attack them — then suddenly it’s a big story,” Bennet said.

“For me it brings images of Custer and people attacking Indian villages to make them leave. It was done in the same spirit. They could have come in without weapons and tried to mediate. Instead the police did a dawn raid in camouflage. They caused the violence.”

Spoiling the land

Coon, who spent some time at the protest, described it as friendly, peaceful and welcoming.

“My impression was that the people were overwhelmingly local and all ages. The atmosphere was almost like a block party. People had lawn chairs out. They even had a turkey dinner,” Coon said.

Many local residents are opposed to fracking because they fear their water will be contaminated, their land degraded and air polluted, he told Al Jazeera.

“These are rural communities with very clear air, beautiful land, drinkable water. They don’t want to see that spoiled,” Coon said. “When energy companies move in, they industrialize the area, which completely changes the quality of life in those communities.”

Though the protest includes a diverse group of local residents who say they will not allow fracking on their land because of environmental and health concerns, the only legal argument can be made by its First Nations members.


‘These people have a democratic and constitutional right to be consulted about what happens on their land,’ Bennet said. ‘And if that’s not respected, then they have a right to protest.’

Since the mid-1980s, 186 rulings by the Supreme Court of Canada and lower courts have established a precedent that aboriginal people must be consulted and accommodated when development on their land is considered, according to Canada’s CBC news.

That’s because, unlike the rest of Canadian First Nations, the Mi’kmaq and Maliseet peoples — located in New Brunswick — never ceded their territory in treaties or lost it by force, giving them more legal rights over their land than most other First Nations.

“That certainly was not done when the license to explore the land was given to SWN,” said Coon. “It was not done when those licenses were extended.”

Off tribal lands, oil and gas resources generally remain under the control of the provincial or federal government. A request for comment by the New Brunswick government’s energy branch was not answered.

New Brunswick’s Assembly of First Nations Chiefs called on the provincial government Monday to revoke shale-gas exploration permits issued to energy companies until they have been consulted, CNC news reported.

“These people have a democratic and constitutional right to be consulted about what happens on their land,” Bennet said. “And if that’s not respected, then they have a right to protest.”

Regardless of the result of the court ruling Monday, local community activists are determined to do everything they can to stop energy companies from moving into their province.

“Fracking will not occur there. Those communities will not allow it to happen,” Coon said. “To impose the industry on those communities … would require continued police presence and lots of protection around the clock for industry activities.”

Al Jazeera

Guardian: New Brunswick fracking protests are the frontline of a democratic fight

SOURCE: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/oct/21/new-brunswick-fracking-protests

Images of burning cars and narratives about Canadian natives breaking the law obscure the real story about the Mi’kmaq people’s opposition to shale gas exploration

A girl plays the drums as she sings a traditional First Nations song during an anti shale gas demonstration in Montreal in support of the Mikmaq people of Elsipogtog First Nations in New Brunswick.
A girl plays the drums as she sings a traditional First Nations song during an anti shale gas demonstration in Montreal in support of the Mikmaq people of Elsipogtog First Nations in New Brunswick. Photograph: Oscar Aguirre/Demotix/Corbis

The image of burning police cars played endlessly on the evening news. Television and talk radio blared out reports of “clashes” between police and indigenous protestors. Last Thursday in New Brunswick near the Elsipogtog First Nation, we were told the government had enforced an injunction against a blockade of a US shale gas company. There was nothing about the roots of a conflict years in the making. An appeal to the stereotype of indigenous violence was enough: once again, the natives were breaking the law; the police had to be sent in. Catching the headlines, Canadian could shake their heads and turn away their gaze.

But smoke and flames from police cars can only hide the truth for so long. The exact chronology is not yet settled, but this much is clear: on Thursday morning someone in government sanctioned the Canadian police to invade a peaceful protest site like an army. In a dawn raid, snipers crawled through the forest, putting children and elders in their cross-hairs. Police carried assault rifles and snarling dogs, and sprayed tear gas and shot rubber-type bullets. The result was predictable: shocked and enraged people, a day ending in chaos.

There is only one reason the police were unleashed. Not because of the New Brunswick Premier’s claims about the dangers of an “armed encampment”; protestors had been unswervingly non-violent for months. 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. Petitions, town hall meetings, marches on legislature had slowly transformed to civil disobedience, and in October, to the blockade of equipment that Texan SNW Resources was using for seismic testing. The company was losing $60,000 daily, and the non-violent defiance had put a wrinkle in the Premier’s plans for a resource boom. The blockade had to go.

The pundits howl or hand-wring about destroyed police cars, but say nothing about the destruction wrought by fracking. Short for “hydraulic fracturing,” fracking pumps a toxic cocktail of chemicals, sand and water into deeply drilled wells. It shatters the bedrock to free shale gas. The chemicals – many of which are kept secret by industry – are linked to cancer and other illnesses. The process contaminates ground water and even causes earthquakes. And it doesn’t just do violence to the earth: it releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes massively to climate change. Such concerns have spurred citizen movements to win moratoriums in Quebec, New York and France.

But Premier David Alward, hell-bent on opening up the province to shale gas, has spurned consultation with First Nations and the rest of the population. His latest step is demonization. “Clearly, there are those who do not have the same values we share as New Brunswickers,” he cynically announced on Friday. But the opposition to the Premier’s shale gas agenda is not just a supposedly isolated Indigenous community: it is two of every three people in Atlantic Canada. Little wonder he has repeatedly rejected a referendum on shale gas. It turns out the residents of Elsipogtog aren’t criminal deviants. They are the frontline of a fight for the democratic and environmental will of New Brunswick.

“It is our responsibility to protect Mother Earth, to protect the land for non-natives too,” says Susan Levi-Peters, the former Chief of Elsipogtog. “My people are speaking up for everyone.” Others have heard. Since the beginning of the summer, Levi-Peters has seen indigenous Maliseet, Acadians and anglophone New Brunswickers drawn to this new epicentre of resistance on her community’s traditional lands. “People care about the water. People care about the environment. This isn’t just a native issue.”

But let’s be clear about one way this is a “native issue”: the rush underway for dirtier and more extreme fossil fuels and minerals, in New Brunswick and across Canada, is just the latest stage of colonial pillage. It’s a badly-kept secret that Canada’s oil, gas and mineral wealth, the key to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s reckless resource obsession, are mostly on Indigenous lands. And if industry is to have them, the country’s national myths must be summoned. In last week’s Speech from the Throne, Harper praised the “courage and audacity” of the country’s “pioneers,” who “forged an independent country where non would have otherwise existed.” A day later, the raid on Elsipogtog was effectively a footnote.

Levi-Peters says the Mi’kmaq remember the “audacity” all too well. How their nation signed a peace and friendship treaty in 1761 to let the English settle but not to trample Mi’kmaq interests. How before they came for the shale gas, they came for the timber, the fish, the wildlife. And then for the children, locked away in residential schools and split from their connection to the land. The farms that were burnt to push them onto reserves. And how every act of resistance has been greeted by the same lectures from authority. “In no way can we as a country of laws condone the breaking of laws and violence,” Premier Alward reminded them on Friday.

Tell that to Levi-Peters and the rest of the Mi’kmaq, who have been betrayed again and again by the law. The Canadian Supreme Court’s judgment in the historic Marshall case in 1999 recognized the Mi’kmaq rights to fish for a living. But when the Mi’kmaq’s attempted to practice that right, their boats were rammed by government officials, their nets destroyed by non-native fishers agitated by state misinformation. That same judgment confirmed that the treaty of 1761 had never surrendered their lands. That Elsipogtog still owns, in fact, what SNW Resources now covets. And that the injunction order by a provincial judge is a convenient legal fiction, backed only by the power of brute police force.

This is the vast and enduring violence that is scarcely spoken of: a history of dispossession and resource theft under the guise of the “law.” What Harper and every premier now offers indigenous peoples are promises they will have “every opportunity to benefit.” They won’t. In Elsipogtog, unemployment tips 80 percent and they want jobs, but fracking is too great a risk. As many as twenty people crowd into one house, in a community that needs 500 new homes. Their share of a multi-billion dollar resource rush will be destitution and despair on its outskirts.

But in the protest movement against shale gas, many young Indigenous people have discovered a new reason for hope. Like one young man, 17 years old, who has camped at the site for the last weeks. “I’m worried about the water and the future of my children,” he says. He is among the terrifying warriors that shale gas-drunk politicians unleashed an armed police force on last week. Anxious that this might come, Levi-Peters sent a message this summer to the Premier. “You’re going to make criminals out of us, because there is no way we can allow the fracking,” she wrote him. His office never bothered to reply. She now has his response: Harper’s pioneers aim to march on.

Unless, of course, Canadians are prepared to break with the past. Many are. Tens of thousands have signed petitions, and many others marched alongside indigenous peoples in dozens of cities and towns since Thursday. It is a sign that the the actions of the New Brunswick and the Canadian government may backfire. What the government and corporate media crave now is more mayhem, to sell to the public the repression they have sought all along. What they fear most is a movement armed only with drums and eagle feathers and a sacred relationship to the land, touching the hearts of ever more Canadians.

Freed of the distractions, we will be left with a single question. Do we obey provincial dictates that grant a company license to pollute the water? Or the laws of Indigenous peoples, of the Supreme Court, and of our conscience, calling us to protect it? The answer will tell us everything about the kind of country we will have.

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.”

SubMedia: Frontline documentary on the October 17 Attack

To view the video, go to:

http://www.submedia.tv/stimulator/2013/10/20/showdown-at-highway-134/

Showdown at highway 134

With some of the only video from behind police lines, subMedia.tv witnessed the brutal raid by the Royal Colonial Mounted Police on the Mi’kmaq blockade of fracking equipment. But the fierce response of the community in defense of the warriors was also captured on camera. We bring you the real story about what really went down on Highway 134, the story that the corporate media doesn’t want you to see.

HMC: Mi’kmaq Warrior risks losing leg after being shot by RCMP rubber slug in Thursday’s cop attack

SOURCE: http://halifax.mediacoop.ca/story/mikmaq-warrior-risks-losing-leg-after-being-shot-r/19398

Internal bleeding went untended for two days due to shock.

by Miles Howe

Tyson Peters addresses a crowd today at a community meeting in Elsipogtog. [Photo: Miles Howe]
Tyson Peters addresses a crowd today at a community meeting in Elsipogtog. [Photo: Miles Howe]

Elsipogtog, New Brunswick – It has taken three days, but sadly there is now the potential of a very serious injury arising from last Thursday’s early morning RCMP attack on the anti-shale gas encampment that occurred on a piece of Crown land adjacent to highway 134.

Tyson Peters, a member of the Mi’kmaq Warriors Society, today appeared at a community meeting in Elsipogtog using two friends for support. His left leg was heavily bandaged. He tells the Halifax Media Co-op that after being shot in the leg by a ‘rubber bullet’ shotgun blast, fired by an RCMP officer at close range, there is extensive internal bleeding in his leg. Doctors have advised him that they will know better tomorrow whether the leg will require amputation.

Peters, who was asked by his uncle to join the Warriors Society, was amongst several people shot by the RCMP with rubber bullet shotgun shells during the violent arrest of 40 people on Thursday. Peters was at the second confrontation between anti-shale gas activists and police, which occurred after an RCMP tactical squad arrived in the pre-dawn hours with about 60 guns drawn to serve an SWN Resource’s Canada injunction to about 15 odd people.

“I had to jump in front of a woman and take a rubber bullet,” says Peter. “I didn’t go for help for two days. I was walking on it for two days and couldn’t feel it. I was in too much shock.

“[Doctors at St. Anne hospital in New Brunswick] told me I might be losing my leg.”

While the RCMP has been very forthcoming in their public display of three apparently-seized rifles from the Warriors encampment near highway 134 (none of which were ever used at the encampment), the police have remained totally mum on their use of rubber bullet shotgun shells during both confrontations with anti-shale gas activists on the 17th. Numerous incidents of maiming and blinding by rubber bullets and slugs have been documented over the history of their use.

The Halifax Media Co-op will update this story as new becomes available.

OC: Op-Ed: Heavy-handed response to the Elsipogtog blockade in New Brunswick

SOURCE: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/opinion/op-ed/Heavy+handed+response+Elsipogtog+blockade+Brunswick/9054564/story.html

Op-Ed: Heavy-handed response to the Elsipogtog blockade in New Brunswick

By Peter Raaymakers, Ottawa Citizen October 18, 2013
Op-Ed: Heavy-handed response to the Elsipogtog blockade in New Brunswick

Photograph by: Andrew Vaughan , THE CANADIAN PRESS

On Thursday morning, RCMP officers were deployed with rifles, non-lethal bullets, pepper spray, and dogs to enforce a court injunction and attempt to disperse a blockade of protesters on New Brunswick Route 134, about an hour north of Moncton. At least 40 people were arrested for continuing a protest against natural gas exploration in the area, which comprises traditional lands of the Mi’kmaq people.

Perhaps it can be seen as an extension of the Canadian “pioneer” spirit mentioned by Governor General David Johnston in the most recent speech from the throne. That spirit, according to the current government, pushed settlers to build “an independent country where none would have otherwise existed.”

Of course, Canada wasn’t depopulated when settlers arrived here from Europe. Our country’s wealth and prosperity has been built through the persistent and usually violent removal of First Nations from their traditional lands in order to make room for resource development — and, as we saw Thursday, that’s as true today as it was centuries ago.

As we watched the blockade, we also witnessed the violent response that often follows violent provocation. Although thankfully there were no serious injuries reported, five flaming police cars have a way of catching the attention of the general public. After RCMP officers converged on the blockade, Elsipogtog First Nation Chief Arren James Sock — who was allegedly “roughed up” in the process, according to at least one eyewitness — was among those arrested, and as matters escalated, police also began using non-lethal bullets, pepper spray, and physical confrontation in an attempt to break the blockade.

It seems that cooler heads have prevailed and the RCMP pulled back their offensive for the time being, but it’s unfortunate that the violence seems to be what’s generating headlines in the aftermath. It’s distracting many from the injustice of gas exploration and fracking around Richibucto and Canada’s relations with First Nations in general.

The Mi’kmaq people of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, including the Elsipogtog First Nation, have never signed a treaty relinquishing authority to the land on which the Route 134 blockade stands today, or that on which SWN Resources is conducting exploratory testing. They signed a Peace and Friendship Treaty in 1761, which was re-affirmed in 1982 with Canada’s Constitution Act and then again in a 1999 Supreme Court of Canada decision, but that agreement included no mention of the surrender of any lands. Although the federal and New Brunswick governments are currently engaged in exploratory discussions to address issues of land ownership, rights, and sovereignty, there has been no agreement yet.

Given this reality, SWN Resources’ exploration permits aren’t legitimate. Nor was the court injunction criminalizing the blockade, and the police action was ridiculously illegitimate, not to mention unjust, unreasonable in its heavy-handedness, and terribly bad public relations for the RCMP.

In the above-mentioned Supreme Court case, the federal government was encouraged to negotiate with all First Nations in Canada in order to resolve the many outstanding issues and fulfil its treaty obligations. The negotiation process takes a lot of time, but that’s the point. It’s designed to be a meaningful engagement to avoid violent confrontation and find a mutually acceptable solution to these complex issues. If we hope to avoid more destructive events like that which took place on Thursday in New Brunswick, negotiation is the only way forward.

Negotiations are taking place with the provincial government, too. Premier David Alward and Chief Sock met as recently as last week to find a way to end the blockade, and they agreed to form a working group with representatives from the governments of the province and the Elsipogtog First Nation as well as the energy industry. Why the RCMP felt that it was appropriate to intervene in what was at the time a peaceful protest in the midst of active negotiations is unclear, but thankfully all sides have agreed to resume negotiation now that the police have stepped back.

Before gas exploration continues, those negotiations must reach a settlement. Continuing them while the industry conducts testing is disingenuous, putting the cart before the horse and assuming that the settlement will allow fracking without any indication that it’s an acceptable component. If New Brunswick was negotiating in good faith, SWN Resources would be required to stop looking for shale gas deposits — and if testing were halted, the blockade and the hugely excessive police response that followed it could have been avoided.

This year marks the 250th anniversary of the Royal Proclamation of 1763, which outlined the First Nations land rights. That proclamation was further guaranteed in 1982 within the Canadian Charter or Rights and Freedoms. With that in mind, it’s high time the federal government redoubles its efforts to resolve the many outlying issues that are causing conflicts such as that in New Brunswick.

Peter Raaymakers is an Ottawa resident who thinks 400 years should have been long enough to build peace between Canada and the indigenous people who live within its borders.

AMMSA: RCMP crackdown on Elsipogtog anti-fracking blockade spurs over 50 protests in support

SOURCE: http://www.ammsa.com/publications/windspeaker/rcmp-crackdown-elsipogtog-anti-fracking-blockade-spurs-over-50-protests-sup

Fracking protestor at Elsipogtog faced down by RCMP line
Author:
By David P. Ball Windspeaker Contributor Rexton, N.B.
Volume:  31
Issue: 8
Year: 2013

“Oh my gosh, they’re going to kill me before hearing me out,” Mi’kmaq anti-fracking blockader Amy Sock thought, as camouflage-clad tactical police with assault rifles and attack dogs chased her down.

“My spirit told me to just run,” she told Windspeaker. “I’ve never seen rifles like that; they were really big, Afghanistan-style guns. When I saw them, when I saw those outfits with the dogs, I knew, ‘This is it’ … I could have easily been shot. But my spirit is unharmed, it’s still strong.”

Sock, a member of Elsipogtog First Nation involved in a months-long fight against shale gas exploration by SWN Resources, arrived at the blockade on Oct. 17 after dropping her children off at school.

When she saw hundreds of riot police lined up across the road near the protest encampment – ostensibly to serve a court injunction in favour of the company – she approached waving a white towel in hopes of negotiating a solution.

Instead, she claims an officer punched her in the head so hard her glasses flew off, sparking an escalating confrontation that ended with 40 arrests, six torched police vehicles, and RCMP allegations they found bombs, rifles and bear spray in the camp. Media were barred from the site, and could not verify those claims, and some have speculated that several new faces that morning could have been police infiltrators.

The massive police raid – with estimates between 200 and 700 officers deployed with live ammunition and armoured troop carriers – sparked a flurry of at least 50 solidarity protests across Canada and even in some American and European cities. But police insisted they swept in because of alleged threats against private security contractors the night before.

“The weapons and explosives we seized show that this was no longer a peaceful protest and there was a serious threat to public safety,” RCMP assistant commissioner Roger Brown told reporters on Oct. 18. “Some in the crowd threw rocks and bottles at (police) and sprayed them with bear spray.

“Setting police cars on fire created a dangerous situation for everyone in the area, and it was at that point that police were forced to physically confront some in the crowd who refused to obey the law.”

Since early this summer, Sock has been part of a group of Mi’kmaq and non-Native protesters raising the alarm about SWN Resources. Residents fear seismic testing and search for shale gas will lead to polluted water through the controversial fracking process, in which high-pressure chemicals explode the earth deep underground.

Leaders of Elsipogtog First Nation have supported the blockade with band council resolutions, and have attempted unsuccessfully to negotiate with the province to prevent fracking on the traditional lands near their reserve.

“There’s no guarantee fracking will be safe,” Sock said. “To me, if there’s no guarantee it’ll be safe, we should not even bother.

“Water is a source of life, it travels far and wide. Without it, not even an insect will survive. They’ll pollute our water; no one has ever said that it won’t … It’s irreparable harm. We will not put up with that, if there’s any doubt that our water is in danger. We have to stand up.”

As reported by Windspeaker in July, the blockade has seen previous arrests as well as arson against SWN equipment. But Sock said the conflict came to a head on Oct. 17 when police raided the camp before dawn with pistols drawn, arresting several sleeping Mi’kmaq warriors at gunpoint. During that operation, police said at least one Molotov cocktail was thrown from the forest.

But supporters of the blockade say the police assault – photos show officers pointing live sniper rifles at unarmed protesters – was unprovoked and amounts to a violation of the Mi’kmaq peace treaty with the Crown.

Pam Palmater, head of Ryerson’s Centre for Indigenous Governance, said the confrontation reminded her of the 1990 standoff at Kanesatake, the so-called Oka Crisis: “overkill to the max.”

“You’re talking drums and feathers versus assault rifles, Tasers and pepper spray,” the Mi’kmaq academic told Windspeaker. “As soon as you send in RCMP or military, heavily armed, it stops being a peaceful protest.

“You can’t call sending in 200 RCMP with dogs and snipers, attacking protesters, anything other than hostile. They made a direct choice to violate the peace treaty.”

Palmater believes that it’s no coincidence that police only decided to enforce SWN’s injunction within days of the departure of UN Indigenous envoy James Anaya, and the Conservative government’s Throne Speech outlining its aggressive resource extraction priorities.
But with police withdrawing after a day of unrest, she declared the standoff and solidarity protests a “victory.”

“It showed that we as Indigenous peoples actually have the power to deal with this stuff – to stop what’s happening on our land,” she explained. “SWN and New Brunswick are now partnering together to get an injunction to prevent any future protests. That’s not conducive to a negotiated solution. It will fuel the fire.”

But although burning police cars and a televised Native standoff drew comparisons to Oka in 1990 or Ipperwash in 1995 – where unarmed protester Dudley George was killed by police – the author of Resource Rulers: Fortune & Folly on Canada’s Road to Resources – said that the parallel ends there.

“I don’t think this is another Oka or Ipperwash,” Bill Gallagher said. “Both of those had a burial ground connotation that went to the very heart of what Natives are prepared to go to the wall for and protest. Now the Native ability to stand up and push back has never been more strident and thought out, often with allies like eco-activists.”

However, in New Brunswick, an APTN reporter heard one police officer shout at blockaders, “Crown land belongs to government, not to f**king natives.” Those words echoed Ontario’s Ipperwash-era premier Mike Harris, who it was reported told his staff, “I want the f**king Indians out of the park,” immediately before George’s killing.
As Indigenous people and supporters stage solidarity rallies and several highway blockades across the country, however, the crisis in New Brunswick could still follow the path of Oka and “spin off and … replicate or draw adherents right across the country,” he said.

“The trouble with it happening the way it has is that Canadians have to get a crash course in why they have to be prepared to take a deep breath and cut First Nations some slack until they get all the facts,” he argued. “It’s incumbent for Canadians to get their heads around it and understand that all these events are interconnected with history.”

As the conflict unfolded on Oct. 17, Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo wrote a letter to New Brunswick Premier David Alward warning that “the actions of police this morning have been completely unacceptable and are an extreme use of state force and control over First Nation citizens and territories.”

Sock sees a direct parallel to the Oka Crisis. At age 20, she journeyed to Kanesatake to support the Mohawks in their fight against a golf course on their cemetery.

“At Oka, they wanted to protect Mother Earth, and at Elsipogtog, we want to protect Mother Earth,” she said. “The issue is the same.

“When you’re a First Nations person, you have a strong connection to Mother Earth … We’re very proud of that. To us, it doesn’t matter if they drag us around or throw us in jail. We have no other choice. We can’t trust the government and we can’t trust the RCMP to protect us. We have to do it ourselves.”

– See more at: http://www.ammsa.com/publications/windspeaker/rcmp-crackdown-elsipogtog-anti-fracking-blockade-spurs-over-50-protests-sup#sthash.Pv2PvUkF.dpuf