CBC: Hundreds of shale gas opponents demonstrate at NB legislature

SOURCE: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/hundreds-of-shale-gas-opponents-demonstrate-at-legislature-1.2415397

Hundreds of shale gas opponents demonstrate at legislature

Crowd of between 350 and 650 call for ban on exploration

CBC News Posted: Nov 05, 2013 12:29 PM AT Last Updated: Nov 05, 2013 6:19 PM AT

An anti-shale gas rally was held at the legislature on Tuesday, just as the legislature was set to begin a new session.An anti-shale gas rally was held at the legislature on Tuesday, just as the legislature was set to begin a new session. (Catherine Harrop/CBC)

Hundreds of protesters crowded the front of the provincial legislature in Fredericton on Tuesday, demonstrating against shale gas exploration in New Brunswick.

The protest coincided with the day of the throne speech, in which the Alward government pledged to forge ahead with exploiting the province’s natural resources.

Outside, protesters demanded a stop to shale gas exploration and development of the industry in the province, which they fear could cause environmental damage, including contamination of groundwater supplies.

“They go into the community to exploit the people of the community,” said protester Charles Richard. “Once they exploit them, take everything, they pack their bags and they go. That’s why they call them carpetbaggers.”

Police estimated there were between 350 and 400 protesters. The Council of Canadians say they counted 650.

The anti-shale gas protesters headed out for a march in the city, ending with speeches and songs on Fredericton’s green, just down the street from the legislature. A native longhouse and three teepees lined the Saint John River.

Twelve-year-old Isaac Cyr was one of the youngest protesters. He’s from the Elsipogtog First Nation, which has been at the centre of major anti-shale demonstrations in Rexton, including a violent clash with RCMP on Oct. 17 that ended in 40 arrests.

“At the Rexton site I was the fire keeper for four days,” he said. “I maintained the fire, the sacred fire.”

Anti-shale gas protesters weren’t the only demonstrators outside the legislature. A small group of paramedics gathered, unhappy with cuts to the night shift in the Chipman area.

“Our concern is that a trial layoff will impact emergency services throughout the greater Fredericton and Grand Lake area,” said Trent Piercy, president of the paramedic union.

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

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

Sacred Fire blockade to begin at noon on Nov. 4

Emergency Advisory
For Immediate Release

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

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

Media Contact: Amanda Lickers, 705-957-7468

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

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

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

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

CBC: Stage set for shale gas showdown

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continue reading

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Longstanding non-recognition’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul Martin weighs in

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

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

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

6 remain in jail

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

iPolitics: History comes back to haunt in New Brunswick

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

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

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

Hey, Canada. We need to talk.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.