Rabble: Everything you need to know about Elsipogtog

Everything you need to know about Elsipogtog

| October 23, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 flickr/flailingphantasm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

SubMedia: Frontline documentary on the October 17 Attack

To view the video, go to:

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

Showdown at highway 134

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