CTV: Protesters hope sacred fire will put a stop to shale gas exploration

CTV Atlantic
Published Wednesday, November 6, 2013 6:31PM AST

Anticipation is growing as protesters await the arrival of SWN Resources to resume shale gas testing in Rexton, N.B.

When they do, First Nations members plan to light a sacred fire that, according to tradition, can’t be crossed without permission for four days after it is lit.

“We believe there’s spirits there and ancestors arrive here to help use and to protect us,” says sun dancer Louis Jerome. “This is why the sacred fire is very important.”

Photos

Shale gas protesters gather in Rexton, N.B. on Nov. 6, 2013. (CTV Atlantic)

The protesters hope the lighting of the sacred fire will stop shale gas exploration in Rexton.

“They have to really respect that because we cannot move, even the RCMP, they can’t move that,” says Jerome.

Police say they don’t have a problem with the sacred fire, as long as it’s off the road.

However, police say the protesters could be breaking the law if they light the fire too close to the highway, which could endanger motorists and the public.

“I think it’s really important for people to understand that public safety is paramount and that anybody lighting a fire or blocking a road is certainly putting people’s lives at risk,” says RCMP Const. Julie Rogers-Marsh.

SWN Resources was supposed to resume shale gas testing this week but the easily recognizable thumper trucks are nowhere to be seen.

However, geophones lining sections of the highway suggest the company is present.

As support for the protesters continues to grow, it appears neither side is backing down.

On Tuesday, Premier David Alward reconfirmed his commitment to shale gas exploration and protesters reconfirmed their commitment to stopping it.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Jonathan MacInnis

 

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: SWN set to resume shale gas exploration Monday, chief says

SOURCE: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/swn-set-to-resume-shale-gas-exploration-monday-chief-says-1.2325522

SWN set to resume shale gas exploration Monday, chief says

Elsipogtog First Nation Chief Aaron Sock calls on Premier David Alward to impose 6-month moratorium

CBC News Posted: Nov 01, 2013 5:17 PM AT Last Updated: Nov 01, 2013 5:53 PM AT

SWN Resources Canada intends to resume shale gas exploration near Rexton on Monday, just two weeks after a violent clash between RCMP and protesters, says Elsipogtog First Nation Chief Aaron Sock.

The company informed him of its plans, an angry Sock announced during a news conference, held Friday afternoon at the Moncton Casino.

Sock is calling on Premier David Alward to intervene.

He wants a six-month moratorium to allow time for meaningful negotiations, he said.

If the premier does not intervene, Sock could not speculate whether there will be more protests and blockades.

On Oct. 17, an anti-shale gas protest near Rexton turned violent after RCMP moved in to enforce a court injunction obtained by SWN against a blockade.

Six police vehicles were destroyed by fire and 40 people were arrested. Explosive devices, firearms, knives and ammunition were seized.

Sock met with the premier the following day and both sides agreed to a cooling-off period.

On Friday, Sock told reporters he felt deceived. He said Alward had told him he would contact SWN officials about postponing exploration, but it seems that did not happen.

In addition, Sock said no meaningful discussions have taken place since police raided the protesters’ camp on Route 134.

He said although the province has appointed a lawyer to deal with the matter, every time he has contacted the lawyer, the lawyer has claimed to be unaware of what he’s supposed to do.

On Saturday, members of Elsipogtog First Nation plan to begin reclaiming Crown land in Kent County by placing plaques on 50 separate 100-acre lots.

But Serge Rousselle, a professor of aboriginal law at the University of Moncton, contends it will be a symbolic exercise with no legal consequences.

Jailed protesters mistreated, lawyer says

Shale gas protester Jason Augustine says protesters are being treated unfairly by the RCMP. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

Meanwhile, earlier in the day on Friday, at another news conference held on the steps of the Moncton Law Courts, a lawyer representing five of the protesters jailed on Oct. 17 said their rights are being violated.

Alison Menard said four men are still in custody. “It’s been two to three weeks that these people have been detained, and it doesn’t seem like things are necessarily changing for the people who have been in detention,” she said.

Menard contends the arrested protesters have been mistreated while in custody.

“Is it normal for people to be held in segregation while waiting for their first court appearances? Is it normal for them to have access to no programs? Is it normal for them to not even have shampoo and in some cases toilet paper? Is it normal for them to be hit by somebody when they’re being handcuffed?

“I don’t think any of these things are normal,” she said.

“They are presumed innocent and I think regular folks would be very concerned by the way these people, and other people, are treated when they’re in the detention centre.”

Menard is urging citizens to write the provincial ombudsman and ask that the allegations of mistreatment be looked into, saying such actions should concern all New Brunswickers.

Jason Augustine, one of the arrested protesters who has since been granted bail, says he wants ordinary citizens to know how he was treated while detained.

“I was in the hole, we called it the hole, for eight days. I was denied a lot of access there. Each time I said, ‘I want to talk to my lawyer,’ they said, ‘No, you’re not allowed, it’s after hours, you can’t talk to your lawyer.’ With the rights I know, I am obligated to talk to my lawyer … the rights they were denying me of. That was uncalled for,” he said.

SWN is suing the defenders of the water

SWN, the Texas-based fracking company, has filed a civil suit against defenders of the water, seeking damages for “loss of revenue, profit and all expense” and seeking a “permanent injunction” against them.

You can read the statement of claim here: https://sacredfirenb.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/swn-statement-of-claim-oct0313.pdf

SWN is being legally represented in this circumstance by the Saint John lawyer Matthew T. Hayes, who can be contacted at the following coordinates:

http://www.mcinnescooper.com/people/matthew-hayes/

hayesHayesMatt-247x160

As always, we advise respect in all communications.

HMC: Who actually owns SWN?

SOURCE: http://www.mediacoop.ca/blog/max-haiven/19452

by Max Haiven

The struggle of the people of Kent County New Brunswick against fracking, and the phenomenal resistance at Elsipogtog this October, has generated a lot of buzz online.  Many people, both local to Mi’Kmaqi (Atlantic Canada) and beyond want to help. One way to help is to put economic pressure on SWN, the corproation that is responsible for the shale-gas testing and whose “thumper” trucks were so heroically seized until the RCMP raid on October 17.  Recently, some have referred to this website <http://stockzoa.com/ticker/swn/> to argue that SWN is actually owned by major global brands like Microsoft, Nike, Exxon, Disney and Philip Morris.

This is inaccurate.

SWN is a publicly-traded corporation, which means that its shares are traded on the New York Stock exchange and its “owners” are multiple individuals and corporations.  Because it is “publicly” traded, it must report who its major investors are, and this is where the stockzoa.com information comes from.  If we look at the list, we can see that most of those owners have obscure names.  Here are the top 5:

Capital Research Global Investors^ 20.98M $766.48M June 30, 2013
Sands Capital Management 18.10M $661.33M June 30, 2013
Vanguard 16.86M $615.91M June 30, 2013
Wellington Management Company 16.23M $592.83M June 30, 2013
T. Rowe Price Associates 15.40M $562.58M June 30, 2013

These are all “funds,” which means that each of them is itself a company made up of multiple investors.  In other words, each of these “investors” is itself a corporation, made up of multiple investors. Because most of these funds are “private,” we don’t get to know who those investors are.  They are most likely a combination of (a) very rich individuals, (b) investment banks, (c) pension or mutual funds which manage people’s retirement savings and (d) possibly (but not likely) major corporations (like Nike, WalMart, Microsoft, etc.).

Now these “funds” are ALSO investors in all those global brands mentioned above (Microsoft, Nike, Exxon, Disney and Philip Morris).  Funds like these work by making multiple investments in many different companies and creating a “portfolio” of stocks.

In other words:  SWN is NOT owned by Microsoft, Nike, Exxon, Disney, Philip Morris, etc.

The same FUNDS that own SWN ALSO own shares in Microsoft, Nike, Exxon, Disney and Philip Morris, etc.

The exception is invetsment banks.  The stockzoa.com page shows us that some major banks DO own part of SWN.  Hence:

GOLDMAN SACHS 10.29M$376.04MJune 30, 2013 JPMORGAN CHASE & CO 3.15M$114.89MJune 30, 2013

(Due diligence: I am not an expert in investments, but I am a specialist in the sociological and cultural dimensions of finance capital.  You can see a relatively readable piece I wrote on the subject here: http://truth-out.org/news/item/16911-financial-totalitarianism-the-economic-political-social-and-cultural-rule-of-speculative-capital)

WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN?

1. Boycotting brands that own SWN is very difficult.  Most of them are extremely secretive private funds whose offices are in New York, Conneticut, LA, Boston or the Cayman Islands.

2. More problematically, it is not unlikely that many Canadians (and certainly many Americans) are unwitting investors in SWN and other fracking companies because their banks or pension funds are making investments wither directly in SWN stock, or in the funds that are, in turn, buying SWN stock.

3. On the bright side, because SWN is made up of multiple investors and publicly traded, their share prices can be affected quite dramatically by bad publicity. If investors believe that the firm is in trouble in New Brunswick, they may be tempted to sell the stock, which can cause SWN’s share price to drop.

4. But convincing these funds to divest from SWN is likely a losing strategy.  These funds are not run by conscientious individuals. They are run by ruthless professional fund managers whose only legal responsibility is to make as much money for their clients as possible. Trying to convince them to do otherwise is like trying to convince a shark to try a vegetarian diet.  Most of the investors in the funds have little to no idea where there money is going.

SO

Efforts to hurt SWN economically would more effectively occur on other fronts:

1.  The civil disobedience in Kent County will continue to cost SWN a huge amount of money.  Some estimates put it at over $60,000 a day.

2.  Economic efforts should be directed at SWN’s local and more vulnerable partner, Irving, who have been providing private security for SWN, whose newspapers in NB have been criminalizing and defaming anti-fracking protesters, and who will gain materially from a shale-gas industry in the province.  Irving have allowed SWN to use one their lots to store their equipment. Irving owns (a) Irving gas stations and home heating, (b) Majesta and Royal paper products, (c) Cavendish Farms (who make a large percentage of North America’s french-fries) and (d) Kent Building Supplies, and much more.  Without Irving’s support (both material and political) SWN and Fracking in New Brunswick would be history. In Halifax, solidarity protesters have been holding demonstrations outside Irving gas stations since the summer, and more are planned in the future.

3. Economic efforts can also target local (Atlantic Canadian) fracking companies, notably Corridor Resources (http://www.corridor.ca/), a Halifax-based comapny (traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange) that has already fracked in Penobsquis NB, and is planning to undertake the incredibly dangerous practice of deep-ocean drilling in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

4.  More generally, while SWN is the company responsible for fracking in Kent County, Canada has the dubious honour of being the world’s leader in mining and resource extraction corporations, and many of these corporations are committing heinous crimes against Indigenous people around the world.  These mining companies are, for the most part, traded on the Toronto Stick Exchange, and almost every Canadian who has a pension or a mutual fund is, unwittingly, an investor.  Divestment campaigns against Canadian mining companies would be very helpful.

Meanwhile, there are desperate financial needs at the protest camp in NB to help cover legal and bail fees.  To make a donation, check out sacredfirenb.com.

Those in Halifax can join in solidarity actions this Monday at the Irving Station at the corner of Robie and Charles Street at 3pm: https://www.facebook.com/events/167445490121276

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.

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.

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.

CBC: N.B. Premier firm on shale-gas pledge as anti-fracking protesters cheer injunction’s end

In an interview, New Brunswick Premier David Alward says he is hoping SWN Resources, the Texas energy company exploring for shale gas near Rexton, N.B., will resume its operations. (ANDREW VAUGHAN/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

JANE TABER

HALIFAX — The Globe and Mail

Published Monday, Oct. 21 2013, 9:06 PM EDT

Last updated Monday, Oct. 21 2013, 9:10 PM EDT

Just days after a violent anti-fracking protest, New Brunswick Premier David Alward is pressing ahead with his vow to develop a shale gas industry, suggesting First Nations people will share the economic benefits.

But natives are not budging, arguing that their drinking water, which they fear the fracking process could contaminate, is not for sale.

In an interview on Monday, Mr. Alward said he is hoping SWN Resources, the Texas energy company exploring for shale gas near Rexton, N.B., will resume its operations.

He made his comments as native protesters and Elsipogtog First Nation people cheered a New Brunswick judge’s decision on Monday to lift an injunction that had ordered them to stop blocking trucks from leaving the SWN Resources compound to do seismic testing in the area.

The trucks were removed after the RCMP moved in on the native protesters’ encampment last Thursday to enforce the injunction.

Some First Nations people interpreted the judge’s decision as a message to SWN to leave the province. The Premier sees no correlation.

“It’s very much one day at a time,” Mr. Alward said of the resumption of SWN operations. “What we have to remember is that the current work that SWN is doing is exploration. That’s what this phase has been.”

SWN has not replied to requests to comment on when or if it will restart exploration.

“Certainly, my hope and my confidence is that we will see a shale gas industry develop in New Brunswick,” Mr. Alward said. “We can’t afford otherwise.”

He said it would bring prosperity to the province and allow young people who have moved west for work to return home. The Premier repeated, too, that the industry would be developed safely and securely with environmental studies and consultations with First Nations.

“In the end, we are all collectively going to benefit as New Brunswickers, including First Nations, both as individuals but as communities as well,” he said.

Support has poured in for Elsipogtog First Nation from other native groups across the country after Thurday’s violence, in which police cars were torched, rocks thrown and protesters pepper-sprayed. Over the weekend, the native leadership there called for calm – and uneasy quiet has fallen, although protesters remain at the encampment.

It is not clear how the situation will be resolved.

“There is absolutely no way, absolutely no way [we] are going to agree to any form of fracking on or near our community,” said Robert Levy, a band councillor and a former Elsipogtog chief. “They can offer everything. They can offer all the monies they want. We just can’t take that chance of our water for our kids and our kids yet to be born.”

Native groups are not the only ones concerned about fracking. Liberal opposition leader Brian Gallant is calling for a moratorium.

“I believe we need to press pause,” Mr. Gallant said, noting that two studies of the industry are to be released in the next year. “The environment and health risks concern me more than the potential economic benefits excite me.”

Mr. Gallant is meeting on Tuesday with native leaders. Mr. Alward said provincial and band officials are trying to work out a process to resolve the situation. He decided to skip a trade mission this week to Brazil with his Atlantic colleagues to deal with the situation.

With a report from the Canadian Press

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

Global: Judge rules not to extend SWN injunction against shale gas protesters

Judge rules not to extend SWN injunction against shale gas protesters

By Staff  Global News
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.

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.

Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press

MONCTON – A Moncton judge has ruled against a request by SWN to extend a court injunction against shale gas protesters in Rexton, N.B.

READ MORE: Complete coverage of the shale gas protests in New Brunswick

The injunction, which SWN obtained on Oct. 3, was to remove protesters who were blocking access to SWN equipment needed for shale gas exploration.

SWN Resources had asked for the injunction to be extended indefinitely.

BELOW: The original SWN injunction paperwork

It was hoped talks between the protesters — which included members of the nearby Elsipogtog First Nation and other First Nations, the company and the government — would help the situation come to a peaceful end.

WATCH: Elsipogtog First Nation leaders criticize RCMP over anti-shale protest crackdown

The injunction was due to expire on Friday, and RCMP acted on it Thursday morning. Police clashes with protesters led to 40 arrests after five RCMP vehicles were torched.

SWN claimed it has lost $60,000 a day while access to its equipment has been blocked.

With files from Nick Logan and Laura Brown

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.

Rabble: Frackas in Elsipogtog

SOURCE: http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/christophermajka/2013/10/frackas-elsipogtog

Christopher Majka, October 19, 2013

Since the violent confrontations between RCMP and protestors at Elsipogtog, New Brunswick on October 17, 2013, there has been an explosion of concern across Canada. Many solidarity rallies have been held across the country (including one in Halifax, Nova Scotia, that I attended on October 18, pictured in the photographs accompanying this article) and almost 23,000 people have already signed a petition calling on the RCMP to refrain from using violence against these peaceful protests by First Nations peoples and their supporters.

What’s at Issue?

First and foremost, fracking. This is a mining technique for extracting oil or natural gas from underground deposits. Typically clusters of holes are bored, first vertically then horizontally. Water mixed with chemical additives and sand is pumped at extremely high pressures into sections of these drill holes in order to hydraulically fracture (a.k.a., “frack”) the rock formations, thereby releasing hydrocarbons like methane (i.e., natural gas) or crude oil.

What’s the Problem?

There are two fundamental areas of concern.

1. Groundwater contamination

Elsipogtog Solidarity RallyAn enormous number (750+) chemicals have been used as additives in the slurry that is injected into boreholes. Typically 3-12 are used and they include, hydrochloric acid (for cleaning perforations), salt (to delay the breakdown of polymers), polyacrylamide (as a friction-reducer), ethylene glycol (to prevent scale deposits), borate salts (for maintaining fluid viscosity), sodium and potassium carbonates (to maintain crosslinks in polymers), glutaraldehyde (as a disinfectant), guar gum (to increase viscosity), citric acid (to reduce corrosion), and isopropanol (to increase fluid viscosity).

Although the fracking slurry is typically 90 per cent water, 9.5 per cent sand, and only 0.5 percent chemical additives, this soup of chemicals contains many substances of concern that one would not want in groundwater. Furthermore, when rock is hydraulically fractured — depending on its composition, depth, the bedding planes, and groundwater flows in the area — fractures and seams can open up that lead anywhere, and once opened, are virtually unstoppable.

Over time (this may take many months), these chemicals will work their way away to somewhere (Who knows where and with what consequences?), but what will not go away are the petroleum products (various oils and gases) released by the process of fracking — that, after all is the point. If channels through rock formations open up that lead to groundwater reservoirs, this hydrocarbon contamination can continue indefinitely. This is not only a problem in terms of drinking water from wells, springs, brooks, and rivers, but it also has the potential to affect aquatic ecosystems.

2. Methane leakage

Elsipogtog Solidarity RallyFracking releases gases, primarily methane, but also propane and contaminant gases such as hydrogen sulfide (which is very poisonous, corrosive, flammable, and explosive and needs to be flared-off to avoid dangers). Despite various technologies that are deployed, research done by investigators such as Cornell University environmental engineer, Anthony Ingraffea and his colleagues, has shown that some 10 per cent of fracked wells leak methane immediately (from defective cement seals and faulty steel linings), and some 20 per cent will eventually do so over time.  They not only leak at the wellhead, but can (and do) leak virtually anywhere in the surrounding area, coming up through fractured seams in the bedrock. Since methane is colourless and odorless, it may not be easy to detect.

Besides not wanting to breathe methane, this leakage is a serious concern because methane is a very powerful greenhouse gas. Its Global Warming Potential (GWP) is calculated (most recently by the IPCC 2013 report) to be some 86 times that of carbon dioxide based on a 20-year atmospheric residency. This means that methane, as a Greenhouse Gas (GWG) in the atmosphere, traps heat 86 times as efficiently as carbon dioxide over a 20 year time period. Given that concerns with respect to climate change are climbing to critical levels, we have to be very mindful of the environmental impacts of processes like fracking that will inevitably leak methane into the atmosphere, essentially indefinitely.

Add to this concerns about radioactivity associated with fracking (flowbacks from some fracked gas wells have been found to contain high levels of radium) and seismic activity (i.e., tremors) induced by hydraulic fracturing, and it is clear that there are well-founded environmental concerns related to this practice. This is why many communities view plans to undertake fracking with deep suspicion.

Can it be done safely?

Elsipogtog Solidarity RallyWell … maybe. There are an enormous number of different parameters having to do with the geology of the deposits, their depth, what hydrocarbons they contain, the hydrology of the region, how the fracking is being conducted, what chemicals are being used, the proximity to aquifers and settlements, how the well-casing are made, etc. There are some situations where potential risks are greater, others where they are less; some situations where potential benefits are greater, others where they are less.

What is essential is that a clear and detailed assessment of risks and benefits needs to be undertaken before any such project proceeds, and — critically — who will bear the potential risks and reap the benefits. Scenarios in which the risks are assumed by the environment (as a dumping-ground for the mistakes of humanity) and the communities of people who live in the area and depend upon the integrity of that environment, while the benefits are primarily accrued by distant corporations (that are solely concerned with shareholder profits and executive bonuses) should be assessed very critically.

The inescapable corollary is that the adjudication of such proposals is an environmental, social, and political matter. It should not under any circumstances be downloaded onto police authorities. To do so is an abuse of process. The hydrocarbons trapped in shales have been there for tens if not hundreds of millions of years. They will not go away. There is no need to rush an ethically corrupt process (see more below).

Should it be done?

 at left, Sherry Pictou, former Chief of the Bear River First NationAye, there’s the rub. While it’s unquestionably the case that natural gas (which is what is at issue in Elsipogtog) burns more cleanly and with fewer carbon-dioxide emissions that other hydrocarbons such as coal or oil, it is still a fossil fuel and burning it (or letting it escape) emits greenhouse gases (GHGs), which on a daily bassis are bringing our planet closer to what many climatologists fear may be runaway global warming, the consequences of which could end civilization as we know it, something I would think should be of non-insignificant concern … (See Loaded dice in the climate change casino, In the valley of the shadow of peak oil, Acid bath: Evil twin of climate change, and Pestilence, famine, and climate change: Horseman of the Apocalypse).

We simply have to stop burning fossil fuels. While methane is cleaner than coal or tar sands, it is still emits GHGs. If extracting more natural gas would displace the burning of dirtier fuels, a case could be made for their exploitation. However, this seldom if ever happens. More extraction of fossil fuels almost invariably result sin more consumption of fossil fuels — and the cheaper they are, the more wastefully they are squandered.

Moreover, the more we as a society invest in fossil fuel technologies and infrastructure [i.e., pipelines, LNG (liquefied natural gas) terminals, fracking pads, etc.] the more we economically commit to these investments, and the less we correspondingly have to invest in critical renewable energy resources (i.e., wind, water, wave, solar, tidal, geothermal, etc.). It is impossible to have it both ways; we don’t have infinite financial resources, and the world’s atmosphere and oceans are not infinite reservoirs into which we can indefinitely pour our wastes.  Climate change — an accumulation of the last several centuries of industrial society’s sins — is coming home to roost with virulent speed. We can’t continue to stick our head in the sands (tar or otherwise) — we simply have to stop burning fossil fuels.

Back to Elsipogtog

Elsipogtog Solidarity RallyHaving grown up in New Brunswick, this is an area I’m quite familiar with. The native community of Elsipogtog and the many surrounding Acadian towns of Rexton, Richibucto, Sainte-Anne de Kent, Saint-Louis de Kent, and many others, are located on the spectacular Gulf of St. Lawrence – Northumberland Strait coast of New Brunswick, a skipping stone’s throw away from Kouchibouguac National Park, itself a constellation of sand bars, barrier beaches, lagoons, and estuaries which is a scenic, natural, and wildlife gem of New Brunswick. The people of these communities are understandably attached to, and care for, the land, rivers, and ocean where they grew up, live, and make their livelihoods. They are understandably concerned by proposals by SWN Resources Canada (a subsidiary of a Houston, Texas based corporation) to frack for natural gas in their communities.

In the tense standoff at Elsipogtog, what we are seeing is how aboriginal communities are once again on the literal and figurative front line of resisting an exploitative model of resource development that disenfranchises the rights of people and is accelerating the destruction of the planet. It is native people — who have repeatedly been run over by the vehicles of corporate greed — who are standing up once again for the sake of their own communities, for the well being of all Canadians, and to preserve the sacred vitality and integrity of the environment that nourishes us all.

Elsipogtog Solidarity RallyThey are expressing well-founded environmental and political concerns and are asking pointed questions about the models of resource development and extraction, and the corporate myopia and greed that drives them. These abuses have brought us to the global environmental, social, and economic mess that we find ourselves in today. They are unfazed about asking spiritual questions about the sanctity of the earth and whether this is any way to treat her. As a society, we have to listen to these concerns — calmly and respectfully. There is no need to rush. It is inexcusable to send in the police, creating pointlessly tense situations that can readily escalate into conflict and violence. The New Brunswick government needs to reciprocate the invitation from native people to engage in an environmental, social, and political dialogue and not try to download the issues of this dispute onto police authorities.

An encouraging aspect of these current anti-fracking demonstrations and those of Idle No More (see No less than Idle No More) that I have attended, is the degree to which they have drawn people of every age, gender, and ethnicity, and how welcoming First Nations communities have been of the involvement of their fellow Canadians. Native people have been subject to centuries of genocide, persecution, or sometimes indifference, by the representatives of the European nations that came and colonized their land. They have more than ample reasons to feel hostile and suspicious — instead they are welcoming and generous.

In the past few years I’ve witnessed a sea-change, from a time when aboriginal people and their societies and concerns were seen as peripheral to ‘Canadian’ values and interests. Now I am witnessing a growing awareness and understanding that native people are at the forefront of what we need to do and embrace as a society. If we are to survive as a civilization, we need to understand that humanity is intimately and inextricably based on our relationship to the natural world. If we abuse it, we abuse ourselves. If we threaten its well being, we jeopardize our own future. If we ignore it, we hide from our own destiny. If we debase it, we harm our own sanctity. These are the lessons emerging from Elsipogtog and Idle No More. These are lessons that we urgently need to learn.

Christopher Majka is a biologist, environmentalist, policy analyst, and arts advocate. He conducts research on the ecology and biodiversity of beetles. He is a research associate of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-NS and a member of the Project Democracy team.

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

CBC: N.B. shale gas solidarity protests spread to other regions

N.B. shale gas solidarity protests spread to other regions

Events held in Montreal, Ottawa, Thunder Bay and elsewhere in support of New Brunswick demonstrators

CBC News Posted: Oct 18, 2013 3:45 PM ET Last Updated: Oct 18, 2013 10:16 PM ET

Demonstrators rally in Calgary to show support for members of the Elsipogtog First Nation, who have been protesting seismic testing in New Brunswick. (CBC)Demonstrators rally in Calgary to show support for members of the Elsipogtog First Nation, who have been protesting seismic testing in New Brunswick. (CBC)

READ MORE: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/n-b-shale-gas-solidarity-protests-spread-to-other-regions-1.2125627

MC: Elsipogtog: “Clashes” 400 Years in the Making

Elsipogtog: “Clashes” 400 Years in the Making

Corporate media coverage creates ignorance, which enables violence

by Dru Oja Jay

"What the RCMP are aiming at," a photo from the blockades in Rexton. Photo by @mykelone
“What the RCMP are aiming at,” a photo from the blockades in Rexton. Photo by @mykelone
RCMP snipers. Photo by @ToddLamirande
RCMP snipers. Photo by @ToddLamirande
Department of Fisheries and Oceans patrol boat running over Mi'kmaq fishers in 2001.
Department of Fisheries and Oceans patrol boat running over Mi’kmaq fishers in 2001.
“NB protest turns violent,” a CBC headline solemnly proclaims. 1,280 news stories about anti-fracking protests in Rexton, New Brunwick, indexed by Google use the word “clashes.” Most stories are decorated with photos of burning police cars.
All this points to one thing: the way that Canada’s corporate media discusses Indigenous protests is fundamentally broken.
Let’s put it this way. If a hockey player gets in a fight or takes a boarding penalty, we can count on the intrepid investigative team at Hockey Night in Canada to find the footage, if it exists, of the “victimized” player instigating the conflict by making a nasty play when the ref wasn’t looking.
When it comes to Mi’kmaq traditional territory, the stakes are infinitely higher, but the effort reporters put in falls short of a typical Don Cherry segment. Most of the reporters currently flocking to rural New Brunswick can’t be bothered to crack one of hundreds of history books that might give them the background they need to understand the situation.
In fact, they’re not even interested in the months of peaceful protests which “turned violent” when the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) brought in snipers dressed in camouflage and armoured riot police who attacked protesters with pepper spray, physical assaulting those who stood in the way of violations of treaty rights and the destruction of their land.
The corporate media’s interest in the issue seems to have coincided with the exact moment when unprotected police cars were set on fire (by whom, we have no idea), and their curiosity does not extend back from the present moment. Reporters and editors seem happy to allow the racist anti-Native narratives, which are themselves hundreds of years in the making, fill in the blanks for their readers and viewers.
Are we to understand that reality and accurate understanding is what reporters are supposed to provide? If so, it’s worth telling them that the situation in New Brunswick is impossible to understand the situation without a bit of history.
In the mid-1700s, the Crown signed Peace and Friendship treaties with the Mi’kmaq. The Crown — the entity that puts the “Royal” in “Royal Canadian Mounted Police” — understood that to maintain their settlements on someone else’s traditional territory without worrying about attacks, they needed a treaty relationship with the folks who live here.
Here’s what the Mi’kmaq warrior society says about the treaties:
Under the Peace and Friendship Treaties of 1760 and 1761 in the Maritimes, the Mi’kmaq and the Maliseet signatories did not surrender rights to lands or resources.
Oops, that wasn’t the warrior society. It’s actually what the Canadian government said about the treaty. It’s what they have to say, because a long string of court decisions has upheld that the Mi’kmaq nation holds collective rights to the land they share with European settlers.
Let’s put this another way. If the British hadn’t signed a treaty that acknowledged the rights of the Mi’kmaq to the land, British, Scottish and Irish settlement (as well as subsequent waves of migration) might have either not happened at all, or happened in a totally different way.
All those who live on the land governed by the treaty are bound by that relationship, by law and by history. That, at any rate, is how many Mi’kmaq people see it. Non-Native Canadians are more likely to know nothing about the relationship that allows them to live in parts of New Brunswick or Nova Scotia. If they do know, they probably see it as a social studies curiosity rather than the basis of their legal rights in this country.
And that’s where the media comes in. People who have been reading newspapers and listening to CBC News on the radio for years still have no idea about what should be the most basic self-awareness.
It’s hard to say why any given reporter or editor chooses to continue not providing this essential information. But we can identify the effects of this ongoing neglect.
In the early 1800s, Mi’kmaq people were forced onto reserves. Then the colonial government made a law which allowed European squatters to claim ownership over lands set aside for Mi’kmaq. During this time, Mi’kmaq status was taken away from anyone who decides to become Canadian (necessary at the time to gain voting and other rights).
In the 1900s, Mi’kmaq settlements were encroached upon continuously, with many imposed relocations. The Canadian government forced children into residential schools starting in 1930, followed by “centralization,” which again forced Mi’kmaq families to move into two reserves (Shubenacadie and Eskasoni). Many resisted the move, and the government was only able to centralize about half of the Mi’kmaq population. It was only in 1951 that a ban on traditional ceremonies was lifted.
All of these actions violated the Peace and Friendship treaties, but settlers have simply ignored the law because their numbers are greater. This history leads straight up to the present.
In 1981, Mi’kmaq at Restigouche were attacked by police to prevent them from managing their own fishery (there’s a film about it).
In 2000, Mi’kmaq fishers near Burnt Church once again decided to assert their right, which had been upheld by the Supreme Court, to fish for lobster. They were subject to racist violence from both the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, which literally ran over boats of people trying to fish, and non-Native mobs, who attacked people trying to fish and destroyed traps and boats. (There’s a film about that, too.)
Every day, non-Native Canadians make a choice. Are we governed by laws and treaties, or by the will of those with the power to use violence and legitimize it via the media? So far, laws have won in courts while violence has won on the ground.
When Mi’kmaq people stop fracking trucks from entering their territory, they’re defending land that they never gave up. Land which the Supreme Court says they have rights to, rights which they government continues to prevent them from acting on.
The growing list of solidarity actions speaks to a different way of doing things, but ongoing widespread ignorance of the actual situation is what makes this violence possible. It’s far beyond time for the corporate media to stop talking about clashes, and start talking about reality.

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

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

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

by Miles Howe

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

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

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

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

HMC: Undercover RCMP crash anti-shale gas press conference, activists remain in woods on ‘Line 5’

SOURCE: http://halifax.mediacoop.ca/story/undercover-rcmp-crash-anti-shale-gas-press-confere/18362

Undercover RCMP crash anti-shale gas press conference, activists remain in woods on ‘Line 5’

Nightfall finds unknown number of activists still in woods along SWN’s woodland testing line.

by Miles Howe

By now a familiar site. Police and security together bar entrance to SWN's seismic testing lines. [Photo: M. Howe]
By now a familiar site. Police and security together bar entrance to SWN’s seismic testing lines. [Photo: M. Howe]

See also:

DIEPPE, NEW BRUNSWICK – Yesterday, Upriver Environment Watch called a press conference at the Super 8 motel in Dieppe, New Brunswick. Attended by about 50 people, including 4 representatives from the media, the anti-shale gas action group from Kent County hosted a panel of speakers with a variety of expertise and experience.
“Impunity is the word we’re working with today,” said Anne Pohl, host of the press conference.
Pohl had, on July 19th, sent an open letter to New Brunswick Premier David Alward. The letter was at once an invitation to Alward to attend the press conference (neither he nor any member of his caucus attended) as well as a point by point description of the experienced hardships that those continuing to call for a moratorium on shale gas exploration in New Brunswick have experienced in their dealings with the RCMP, SWN Resources Canada as well as their elected government representatives.
If there was a continuous thread to the press conference, it was a general sense of frustration.
“We feel it is time for your government to stop directing the RCMP to harass us and to throw us in jail,” read the open letter to Premier Alward from the Upriver Environment Watch.
“It is time for your government to start talking with us. We have been trying to communicate with you for a long time. We have tried petitions, letters, requests for meetings, protests and everything else we could think of to get your attention. Your avoidance of us has been complete. We are extremely disappointed in your government’s failure to respond and acknowledge our concerns. We ask for you to respect and recognize the legitimacy of our concerns.
Chris Sabas, one of two members of the Christian Peacemakers Team that has been invited to document the anti-shale actions by Elsipogtog War Chief John Levi, was the first presenter. Her information focused on her recent excursions visiting post-testing areas along ‘Line 5’, the backwoods seismic testing line that has for weeks now been the focus of SWN Resources Canada’s testing efforts.
Sabas’ had photographic evidence of unplugged ‘shot holes’, as well as disturbing photographs of animal tracks that she noted appeared in large numbers around post-explosion zones.
Willi Nolan, a long-time resident of Kent County, as well as a member of Upriver Environment Watch, focused her presentation on the dangers of the chemicals already being used in SWN’s exploration processes.
Nolan noted that while information was not readily available, SWN was most likely using a TNT explosive to detonate it’s shot holes. Having already detonated dozens of shot holes throughout the backwoods along ‘Line 5’, Nolan noted that there was no evidence of independent monitors looking after post-testing zones.
Celianne Cormier, another lifelong resident of Kent County, recounted her personal story of being bullied by SWN and Stantec Engineering when it came time for her water to be tested leading up to testing in 2011.
Cormier related a situation where it did not appear that Stantec, ostensibly a third party independent water testing company, was acting at an arm’s length from SWN, the company required to do the water testing. In fact, every time a “water tester” called the Cormier residence, she noted that they claimed to be calling on behalf of SWN. Cormier felt increasingly skeptical when water testers consistently refused to produce identification that they were in fact Stantec employees.
“Why were the callers introducing themselves as calling from SWN and why was SWN calling the shots if the testing was being done by an independent or third party?” asked Cormier. “I lost all confidence in the process, I felt violated and bullied because I felt I was not asking for anything special. In fact I felt I was only insisting on the world class safe ans secure practices as promised by our provincial government.”
Ann Pohl spoke about the difficulty of having the concerns of the citizens of New Brunswick properly heard and represented by a mainstream media almost completely controlled by the powerful Irving empire. Pohl noted that Irving, who stands to benefit from shale gas extraction  in any number of ways; from trucking, to shipping, to processing, and on, was knowingly marginalizing the message of those opposed to shale gas extraction, often framing it as a ‘Native issue’.
After fielding questions from the media, the press conference then turned into an open forum, with various concerned citizens from around the province voicing their concerns about the increasingly obvious signs of industrial hostility, whether in disregard for the natural environment, complicity with law enforcement bodies, both public and private, and lack of concern from elected officials.
As if on cue, as one woman was describing the difficulties of trying to continue to live alongside a pot ash mine in Penobsquis, it became apparent that two undercover RCMP officers had been taking notes throughout the entire press conference. When asked what they were doing, constable Dave Matthews noted that he was taking notes on “the mood” of the press conference. When cameras were trained on the officers, they quickly fled the conference.
Rogersville heats up
It may well be that the blatant disrespect of laying seismic testing equipment immediately adjacent to a cemetery where family members and war veterans lie has begun to galvanize Rogersville’s Acadian population into action.
Today, only two days after the RCMP lied to activists attempting to park on parish land adjacent to their cemetery, telling those attempting to gather that it was private property, an emboldened crowd of about 60 Acadians, Anglophones and Indigenous people – united in their purpose – gathered in the pouring rain next to an active testing line.
Fearless of the potential danger of un-exploded ordinance, a number of people ventured southward down the active testing line, heading away from Pleasant Ridge Road towards Salmon River Road. With the constant hum of a helicopter transporting bagged geophones as a backdrop, activists wandered the freshly cut seismic line. Many noticed the presence of traditionally used medicinal plants growing directly next to un-detonated shot holes.
While most people exited the seismic test line by nightfall, as of press time an unknown number of individuals remain in the woods near the ordinance.