CBC: Mi’kmaq urged to reclaim all Crown land

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/mi-kmaq-urged-to-reclaim-all-crown-land-1.2288214

Band Council issues resolution in midst of shale gas dispute, plans reclamation day for Saturday

CBC News Posted: Oct 30, 2013 11:52 AM AT Last Updated: Oct 30, 2013 12:07 PM AT

Shale gas Rexton barricadesAn anti-shale gas protest began near Rexton on Sept. 30 and turned violent on Oct. 17 with RCMP vehicles burned, 40 people arrested. (Jennifer Choi/CBC)

Mi’kmaq Band Council is urging it members to reclaim all Crown land in the midst of the shale gas dispute in New Brunswick.

It plans to hold a “reclamation day” on Saturday. “We will become steward of the land,” a resolution issued on Wednesday states.

The resolution comes one month after First Nations people began an anti-shale gas protest near Rexton, which has since been relocated to across the street from the provincial legislature in Fredericton.

The band says it felt “compelled to act.”

“Whereas we have lost all confidence in governments for the safekeeping of our lands held in trust by the British Crown; and whereas a notice of eviction from our Keptin has been totally ignored by the provincial government and Southwestern Energy (SWN Resources),” which was conducting seismic testing for shale gas near Rexton.

​”Today we have instructed all our people to go out and stake their claims for land they intend to occupy,” it states.

People of Elsipogtog have received a form in the mail, asking them to sign up to become stewards, the resolution states.

OKT: “Do We Need the Rule of Law to Deal with Native Protestors?”

SOURCE: http://www.oktlaw.com/blog/do-we-need-the-rule-of-law-in-new-brunswick-to-deal-with-native-protestors/

October 23, 2013 4:47 pm

By Michael McClurg

Elsipogtog First Nation is only the most recent in a long line of examples of Aboriginal communities protesting resource development on their lands without their consent, and police force being used to ‘take down’ Aboriginal protest sites.  This is not a “new” story – it has happened before. In some cases, like Oka and Ipperwash, it led to full blown public inquiries to get to the roots of why the Aboriginal protests occurred in the first place, why violence escalated, what could have been done to reduce violence, and how to avoid future conflicts.

You would think that after the Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples and the Ipperwash Inquiry Report, we would have learned a lesson or two about helpful and unhelpful ways to deal with these types of conflicts over resources, including appropriate police responses. But watching reactions to Elsipogtog, we at OKT have a strong sense of history repeating itself.

When conflicts arise about Aboriginal people protesting resource development, you often hear people talk about the “rule of law”; it has come up regularly in media reports and commentary during the current occupation and protests involving the people of Elsipogtog. The concept refers to the idea that power needs to be applied uniformly and not arbitrarily. Some people invoke this term to suggest that the Canadian authorities are not applying the rule of law to Aboriginal protesters in the same manner that they would apply them to non-Aboriginal protesters in similar circumstances.

This argument is often raised by people who support “cracking down on” or quashing (possibly through violence) protests in the same manner that the RCMP raided the occupation at Elsipogtog. This refrain has been repeated many times over the past decades, in response to Aboriginal protests in Canada such as Burnt Church, Kanesatake (Oka), Ipperwash, and Caledonia. It is a simplistic and emotional response to highly complex situations which often have deep roots in historical conflicts. It also  misrepresents the “rule of law” by suggesting that it means applying the law strictly under all circumstances regardless of context. This could not be further from the truth. Indeed, courts and other authorities have repeatedly endorsed a contextual approach to Aboriginal occupations and protests.

The Ontario Court of Appeal in Henco Industries Ltd. v. Haudenosaunee Six Nations Confederacy Council et. al. regarding charges for contempt of court for violation of an injunction spoke of the complex nature of the rule of law in the context of Aboriginal protest and occupation:

“… the rule of law has many dimensions, or in the words of the Supreme Court of Canada is ‘highly textured’… The rule of law requires a justice system that can ensure orders of the court are enforced and the process of the court is respected. Other dimensions of the rule of law, however, have a significant role in this dispute. These other dimensions include respect for minority rights, reconciliation of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal interests through negotiations, fair procedural safeguards for those subject to criminal proceedings, respect for Crown and police discretion, respect for the separation of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government and respect for Crown property rights.”

Picking up on this language two years later, the Ontario Court of Appeal in Frontenac Ventures Corporation v. Ardoch Algonquin First Nation endorsed its holding in Henco that enforcing the rule of law involves a complex balancing. It said that this balancing should be performed before an injunction is ordered in an Aboriginal protest and it emphasized the importance of negotiation in this balancing.

In other words, the rule of law is not just about issuing and strictly enforcing court orders. Upholding the rule of law involves looking at each matter contextually through the lens of the long history of relations between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in Canada. An excellent synopsis of this history and context is provided in the report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, a commission that was created in the wake of the Kanesatake (Oka) standoff. You can read the highlights of that report here.

A very helpful resource for better understanding the rule of law in the context of Aboriginal occupation/protest is the report of the Ipperwash Inquiry. The Ipperwash Inquiry was headed by the Hon. Justice Sidney B. Linden, a judge of the Ontario Court of Justice and was formed by the Government of Ontario in the aftermath of the shooting of Dudley George during the protest at Ipperwash Provincial Park. Part of the purpose of the inquiry was to consider how violence could be avoided in similar circumstances. The report that emerged from the Ipperwash Inquiry is invaluable to understanding these conflicts and the appropriate police response to them.

If you want to understand what is happening at Elsipogtog, and recommended ways to deal with a conflict like this, we highly recommend reading the Ipperwash Inquiry report, as there are many parallels and many of the final recommendations are relevant.

Here are some highlights from the Ipperwash Inquiry report that provide important context on the current events at Elsipogtog:

  • Aboriginal occupations and protests are a symptom of our collective inability to fairly resolve centuries-old tensions and conflicts between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities over the control, use, and ownership of land. Until we “design institutions or implement processes that can resolve these tensions more effectively”, protests and occupations are very likely to continue
  • Aboriginal occupations differ from other kinds of protest and occupation in part because of the long history of mistrust between the police and Aboriginal people – “Police strategy must emphasize the development of communication networks and trusting relationships with Aboriginal people before, during, and after protests”
  • The role of the police is limited to maintaining public order. It is not the role of police to resolve the underlying issue, that is the role of government and government should not duck it – “(G)overnments should not avoid their constitutional obligations to First Nations and Aboriginal people under the cloak of keeping out of police ‘operational matters’”
  • Occupations and protests over land and resources are not new: Historically both non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal communities have used occupations and protests to secure lands and resources from one another, however, non-Aboriginal people have secured much more land and resources this way than Aboriginal people have
  • Studies have shown that, despite commonly held misconceptions, Aboriginal occupations and protests over the past 50 years have been notable for their low levels of violence

It is this context that informs the “rule of law” as it pertains to Aboriginal occupation and protest. Respecting the rule of law is about more than simply charging and arresting people according to the strict letter of the written law. A nuanced and contextual approach is required. An approach that recognizes the underlying history of these protests is needed. An approach that addresses the need of governments to uphold the rule of law by meeting their legal obligations to respect Aboriginal rights is needed.

An extremely important part of the legal context at Elsipogtog is that the protests are occurring on land (and are about land) that the people of Elsipogtog never ceded title to. Aboriginal people in this part of Canada signed Peace and Friendship Treaties with the British in which they never ceded any territory. Canadian law recognizes that the occupation of land by an Aboriginal community at the time of the arrival of Crown sovereignty means that the Aboriginal community owns that land. So, the rule of law in this case would arguably dictate that the protesters have every right to be on their traditional land and that in fact, others, including the Crown and resource extraction companies, are trespassers.

In cases like Elsipogtog, injunction orders and police enforcement cannot and should not exist in a vacuum, separated from the extremely complex historical, cultural, and legal nuances of the situation. If such a simplistic approach is taken to Aboriginal protests, as some in the media would encourage, trust and the potential for negotiation and reconciliation is greatly reduced and the potential for violence and continued protest greatly increases. Those results are not consistent with upholding the rule of law. And they will not bring peace to the land …

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.

HMC: SWN Resources Canada’s ordinance sits behind a New Brunswick cemetery

SOURCE: http://halifax.mediacoop.ca/audio/blasts-wake-dead-swn-resources-canadas-ordinance-s/18340

Blasts to wake the dead – SWN Resources Canada’s ordinance sits behind a New Brunswick cemetery

Interviews with family members of those buried at the Rogersville cemetery

by Miles Howe

click here to download the audio file» Download file ‘cemetery.mp3’ (11.5MB)

Reggie Pitre stands beside the tombstone of his cousin. [Photo: M. Howe]
Reggie Pitre stands beside the tombstone of his cousin. [Photo: M. Howe]
Paul Bourque stands beside his brother's tombstone. [Photo: M. Howe]
Paul Bourque stands beside his brother’s tombstone. [Photo: M. Howe]
Gathered crowd at Rogersville cemetery. [Photo: M. Howe]
Gathered crowd at Rogersville cemetery. [Photo: M. Howe]

ROGERSVILLE, NEW BRUNSWICK – On July 21st we learned that SWN Resources Canada had an undetermined amount of unexploded ordinance behind a cemetery on Pleasant Ridge Road, in Rogersville, New Brunswick.

The cemetery sits adjacent to SWN’s ‘Line 5’, a 35.9 kilometer long seismic testing line that for weeks now has been heavily guarded by RCMP and private security firms.

It is important to note that the Rules for Industry section of the Responsible Environmental Managment of Oil and Natural Gas Activities in New Brunswick notes that the minimum setback for a cemetery from a seismic energy source is 50 meters. At this particular cemetery, seismic testing equipment was measured at under 2 meters away from the boundary line.

I spoke to a few residents from amongst the gathered crowd of about 35 Acadian, Anglophone and First Nations people. I asked them to tell me about the relatives that they had buried at this particular cemetery; the lives their relatives had lived; and what they thought of shale gas exploration.

Please enjoy the following interviews.

HMC: SWN drills more wetlands shot-holes, security guard finds prayer and white doves in the morning

SOURCE: http://halifax.mediacoop.ca/story/swn-drills-more-wetlands-shot-holes-security-guard/18314

SWN drills more wetlands shot-holes, security guard finds prayer and white doves in the morning

Line 5 work continues, Holiday Inn action draws 35 women in white.

by Miles Howe and Rana Encol

Security guard prays for Mother Nature at the site of a wetlands shot-hole. [Photo: Miles Howe]
Security guard prays for Mother Nature at the site of a wetlands shot-hole. [Photo: Miles Howe]
Women in white gathered at the Holiday Inn in Moncton to protest SWN Resource Canada's continued seismic testing in New Brunswick. [Photo: Miles Howe]
Women in white gathered at the Holiday Inn in Moncton to protest SWN Resource Canada’s continued seismic testing in New Brunswick. [Photo: Miles Howe]
Shot hole driller takes a flower. [Photo: Miles Howe]
Shot hole driller takes a flower. [Photo: Miles Howe]
ELSIPOGTOG, NEW BRUNSWICK – Yesterday, a group of anti-shale gas activists stumbled across a team of SWN-contracted workers laying a string of ‘geophones’ – the equipment used to received seismic data created when an area is tested – on a walking trail bordering a settler cemetery at 2304 Pleasant Ridge Road. SWN Resources Canada continues to seismic test ‘Line 5’, a 35.9 km north-south line that cuts through sensitive wetlands and traditional Mi’kmaq hunting grounds west of highway 126.

While the activists remained peaceful at all times, the workers appeared surprised to be discovered, retreating deeper into the woods and calling Industrial Security Limited, the Irving-owned firm that has for weeks now been providing the majority of SWN’s private security needs.

Continuing along the workers’ path, the activists discovered a drilled shot-hole – a hole bored into the ground that contains an explosive charge that will later be set off to gather seismic data – directly in a wetlands area. This falls in line with an earlier discovery of SWN Resources Canada circumventing registered wetlands regulations further south along Line 5.

Two Industrial Security Limited employees then arrived, and, citing workplace safety policy which does not allow anyone without protective equipment to come closer than 50 metres to an explosive at a workplace, informed the gathering party that they would not be allowed to proceed further into the woods. This was despite the fact that the activists were less than 3 metres from the explosive-laden shot hole.

For the next several hours, something of a standoff ensued, with a growing number of security guards, RCMP and activists congregating in the woods. At one point, three Mi’kmaq women asked if they could lay tobacco at the site of the shot-hole. An Industrial Security guard offered to lay the tobacco in their stead, and while the group played the Mi’kmaq Honour Song, the guard prayed to the four directions. He later left the scene in tears.

As evening fell, it became clear that the security and RCMP were – as has been largely the case to this point – concerned almost exclusively with the well-being of SWN-contracted workers and not with the safety of those who continue to rally against shale gas exploration in New Brunswick. People questioning why they were, for example, allowed on one particular piece of the trail and not another – when the 50 metre boundary zone had already clearly been compromised – were given no clear answer.

RCMP, security and activists posed for pictures atop the shot hole, and once it was clear that the SWN-contracted workers were finished their shift, all security and police forces cleared out of the area, and the activists were free to continue along the trail. 5 more shot-holes were discovered drilled directly in wetlands areas.

The seismic testing trail continued for approximately three kilometres, crossed a small river, and wound it’s way up to Young Ridge Road.

Further inspection of the trail, to the south of the original cemetery entrance, was met with an increased security presence, including RCMP guards and armed security guards on All-Terrain Vehicles.

White Doves at the Holiday Inn

Earlier that morning around thirty-five Mi’kmaq, Acadian, and Anglophone women dressed in white, holding flowers and leaflets, occupied the parking lot entrance ways to the Holiday Inn hotel where SWN workers stay in Moncton.

Every morning the workers leave the hotel by truck and disperse to their respective testing sites and security posts – this morning to Line 5.

Nine of the women drummed and sang as they entered the lot and circled the company vehicles.  Others handed out flyers to workers and regular hotel guests.

Ruth Wolpin, a cancer survivor, says short-term economic gains from fracking aren’t worth the long-term health effects caused by carcinogens contaminating the well water.

In their leaflets, the group argues the numbers don’t add up: “Jobs available to New Brunwickers will be few, low paying and short-lived. The typical well is productive for just five years, and its profits will mostly travel out of the province.”

Organizer Greg Cook, who first mobilized around resisting the sale of NB Power in 2009-2010, asserted the current Alward government does not have public consent around this issue – and will often try to compartmentalize it as First Nations or rural issue only.  Cook said today’s action was meant to convey a message of solidarity among nations and backgrounds.

Women Protesters in White Greet Shale Gas Workers at Dawn

Images from a July 18 dawn demonstration when indigenous and non-indigenous women “white dove” protesters peacefully (but loudly) made their presence felt at the Moncton Holiday Inn where the SWN workers are staying while they conduct seismic testing in Kent County.

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HMC: A Week of Civil Disobedience Trainings in Elsipogtog

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

A Week of Civil Disobedience Trainings in Elsipogtog

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO

APTN National News

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

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

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

APTN’s Ossie Michelin has the story.

HMC: Interview with AFN Regional Chief for NB and PEI, Roger Augustine

SOURCE: http://halifax.mediacoop.ca/audio/great-spirit-will-look-after-people-look-after-wat/18226

“The Great Spirit will look after people that look after water.”

Interview with AFN Regional Chief for NB and PEI, Roger Augustine

by Miles Howe

» Download audio file

Roger Augustine visited the sacred fire encampment in Elsipogtog on July 10th, 2103, his 66th birthday. [Photo: M. Howe]
Roger Augustine visited the sacred fire encampment in Elsipogtog on July 10th, 2103, his 66th birthday. [Photo: M. Howe]

ELSIPOGTOG, NEW BRUNSWICK – Yesterday, July 10th, was Roger Augustine’s birthday. Augustine is the Assembly of First Nations’ Regional Chief for New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

As promised on June 30th, Augustine spent the morning of his birthday at the sacred fire encampment in Elsipogtog, which for over a month now has represented the physical rallying point for those opposed to SWN Resource Canada’s attempts at shale gas exploration in New Brunswick.

When I spoke with Roger on June 30th, he didn’t have an opinion on shale gas, or at least not one he was willing to share publicly.

I wondered if the hours he spent at the sacred fire had given Augustine something upon which to make a public stand in regards to shale gas exploration in New Brunswick.

Please enjoy the following interview with AFN Regional Chief for New Brunswick and PEI, Roger Augustine.

IW: Elsipogtog First Nation Shale Gas Protests Update from Halifax Media Co-op Reporter Miles Howe

SOURCE: http://indigenouswaves.com/2013/07/10/elsipogtog-first-nation-shale-gas-protests-update-from-halifax-media-co-op-reporter-miles-howe/

Elsipogtog First Nation Shale Gas Protests Update from Halifax Media Co-op Reporter Miles Howe

Posted by indigenouswavesradio on July 10, 2013 · Leave a Comment

Two weeks ago Indigenous Waves spoke to Warrior Chief John Levi from Elsipogtog First Nation regarding the protests being led by his community against SWN Resources and the shale gas exploration they are engaged in on Mi’kmaq traditional territory. Since then, John Levi has been arrested, and as of Monday July 8th, 2013 was released. Halifax Media Co-op reporter Miles Howe has been covering the story since early June 2013, and was himself arrested for an incident RCMP claim took place two weeks prior to Howe’s arrest. Miles Howe joined Indigenous Waves this past Monday to discuss the events leading up to both his and War Chief John Levi’s arrest, as well as to give some further background to SWN Resource practices, the RCMP offering him cash in exchange for information and the Crown attempt to prevent Warrior Chief John Levi from giving advice to his community.

Miles Howe is a reporter and photographer for Halifax Media Co-op.

Playlist:

Darah – Australian History 101

A Tribe Called Red – Different Heroes f. Northern Voice

A Tribe Called Mi’kmaq – Calling All Warriors

Ode’min Kwe Singers – A.I.M. song

Whitefish Bay Singers – Anishinaabe Round Dance

Originally Aired Monday July 8, 2013

The Aboriginal Rights Coalition Statement in Solidarity with the People of Elsipogtog Mi’kmaq First Nation

The Aboriginal Rights Coalition Atlantic (ARC-A) is a regional coalition of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Atlantic Canadians working together towards justice with First Nations peoples through education, research, advocacy and action. ARC-A recognizes and honours First Nations land, aboriginal and treaty rights in Atlantic Canada, which are also recognized in the Canadian Constitution and have been upheld in the courts. We oppose development projects carried out without free, prior and informed consent in indigenous territory and strive to awaken Canadian society to our collective treaty and Constitutional responsibilities with First Nations people.

ARC-A stands in solidarity with the People of Elsipogtog Mi’kmaq First Nation and the grassroots Indigenous people of Wabanaki as they assert their legal Aboriginal rights and responsibilities to their traditional territory and resources by non-violently opposing shale gas exploration in Kent County, New Brunswick. We join our voices with the coalition of Mi’Kmaq, Maliseet, Passamaquoddy, Acadian and other Maritimers raising their voices to protect Mother Earth.

We are also gravely concerned by the arrest and detention of Indigenous leaders such as Warrior Chief John Levi. John Levi was taken into custody following a hearing Friday, July 5th without the opportunity for bail until Monday, July 8th, while a well-publicized solidarity event took place at the Sacred Fire today, Saturday July 6th. We have witnessed the apparent unequal application of the law to indigenous non-violent defenders as compared to their non-indigenous allies, many of whom were carrying out ceremonial activities when arrested on multiple occasions in the month of June.

We call upon the Premier of New Brunswick and his government to uphold the United Nations and Canadian legal obligations to halt these exploration activities, consult with First Nations communities, and proceed with such activities only when free, prior, and informed consent is given by First Nations communities.

July 6, 2013

HMC: John Levi Free after weekend in prison

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

John Levi Free after weekend in prison

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

by Miles Howe

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

See also:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CPT: Warrior Chief John Levi released from custody

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

ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: Warrior Chief John Levi released from custody

July 8th, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

APTN: (video) Reporter arrested by RCMP alleges he turned down offer to become paid informant

SOURCE: http://aptn.ca/pages/news/2013/07/05/reporter-arrested-by-rcmp-alleges-he-turned-down-offer-to-become-paid-informant/

Reporter arrested by RCMP alleges he turned down offer to become paid informant

National News | 05. Jul, 2013 by | 1 Comment

By Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
An independent reporter charged Thursday by the RCMP in New Brunswick allegedly rejected the force’s offer to become a paid informant.

Miles Howe, a reporter with the Halifax Media co-op, was released late Thursday afternoon from the Codiac RCMP detachment after he was arrested on Salmon River Rd. where RCMP officers were restricting access to an area under shale gas exploration.

Howe faces charges of uttering threats and obstructing justice stemming from an incident that occurred June 21 during an anti-shale gas protest near Elsipogtog, a Mi’kmaq community in northern New Brunswick.

Howe, however, said he was approached by the RCMP on June 30 to become a paid informant and pass information to the police on the people he had been reporting on for weeks.

Howe said they told him “we could compensate you financially,” but they didn’t present a specific dollar figure.

“The funny thing about this situation is that one week ago they were offering me money to inform for them and now they are charging me with an incident that allegedly occurred two weeks ago,” said Howe.

RCMP spokeswoman Cpl. Chantal Farrah said in an email the RCMP couldn’t talk about informants and referenced a Supreme Court ruling.

“Given the broad scope of informer privilege I would have no knowledge of any informant relationship, in this case or any others, nor would the RCMP be able to comment on such a topic,” said Farrah. “The Supreme Court of Canada has upheld the importance of protecting this police officer/informant relationship.”

Howe believes that his charges are part of an attempt by the RCMP to get at Elsipogtog War Chief John Levi.

Levi has been charged with obstructing a peace officer. He was charged the same day Howe was arrested. Levi was informed he was being charged at 2 p.m. Thursday during a meeting with his probation officer.

Howe was arrested at 12:34 p.m.

The charges against both men are linked to a protest that occurred on June 21 along Hwy. 126.

The RCMP allege that Levi helped Howe evade arrest during the heated protest.

The RCMP also allege that Levi told protesters to “stand their ground,” according to Levi’s information sheet.

Sgt. Richard Bernard, who arrested Howe Thursday, is the main source of the allegations.

“On the side of the roadway, a man yelled, ‘Bernard you’re going to pay for this,” the information sheet alleges. “Sgt. Bernard looked over and saw a slim built man, with a black ball cap that had the word ‘dad’ on it.”

The information sheet alleges that Bernard tried to arrest the man, but he escaped his grasp and eventually fled in Levi’s truck.

None of these allegations have been proven in court.

“To me the fact Levi was charged (Thursday), an hour and a half after I was charged, suggests an intent to remove a capable man (Levi) from his appointed duties, rather than a desire to uphold the law,” said Howe.

Levi is being held in custody over the weekend for allegedly breaking his probation. He has a scheduled court date Monday.

jbarrera@aptn.ca

@JorgeBarrera