MG: No end seen for New Brunswick gas protests

SOURCE: http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/sight+protests+against+shale+exploration+Brunswick/8599256/story.html

No end in sight for protests against shale gas exploration in New Brunswick

By The Canadian Press June 30, 2013 6:05 AM

FREDERICTON – The New Brunswick government is pitching the development of a shale gas industry in the province as a potential economic boom and job creator, but opponents are strengthening their resolve to block the idea, right at the exploration stage.

Since early June, there have been protests while SWN Resources conducts the latest series of seismic testing near Elsipogtog, north of Moncton.

Chief Arren Sock of the Elsipogtog First Nation is calling for an immediate moratorium on shale gas exploration in the province and says his people have an obligation to protect the land and water.

“Most New Brunswickers wouldn’t understand the Mi’kmaq culture and they wouldn’t understand the connectiveness of the Mi’kmaq people with the land,” he said. “If they did, they would understand why we are so adamant against shale gas.”

Opponents say the gas wells threaten water supplies, something the industry denies.

The RCMP say there have been 33 arrests since early June as a result of people blocking roads and vehicles. Police are also investigating a number of cases of vandalism.

There are about 10 companies licensed to explore for shale gas in the province but SWN Resources is the only one doing seismic testing right now.

Sock said the government ignored First Nations people when it allowed work to begin.

“The province of New Brunswick entered into exploration licenses without proper duty to consult our people on our territory,” he said.

David Coon, leader of New Brunswick’s Green party, said First Nations in the Maritimes have never ceded territory, so governments have a unique responsibility to consult.

“The treaties are peace and friendship treaties and we are all signatories in a sense to those treaties, and they need to be honoured,” he said.

Coon said Premier David Alward has to get personally involved by visiting the community and taking action.

“He’s got to pull the plug on the licences for exploration … it’s the only honourable way out for him.”

A spokesman for the premier said he was not available to comment Friday, while officials with SWN Resources could not be reached for comment.

Tom Bateman, a political scientist at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, said the provincial government set the stage for opposition by announcing prospects for the industry before ensuring regulations to protect the public and the environment were in place.

“This afforded the anti-shale gas people the chance to step out in front and frame the issue and define the politics of the shale gas development potential in the province,” he said.

A report released in early June said each gas well in New Brunswick would generate about $13 million in economic spinoffs. The report by Deloitte also estimated that each well would create about 21 jobs.

But Bateman said the economic benefits of the industry will only become attractive when the public is assured that the environmental questions have been answered.

In February, the government announced 97 new rules to govern oil and gas industry practices. Under the regulations, exploratory wells will be required to have a double casing to protect surrounding groundwater.

Open pits for wastewater will not be allowed, and oil and gas companies would have to buy $10 million in liability insurance to cover personal injury or damage to property or the environment.

Still, there is a growing number of people — native and non-native — setting up camp along Highway 116 near Elsipogtog to oppose the exploration. People in a camp set up by protesters weren’t willing to comment on Thursday.

Wendall Nicholas of Tobique has been assigned as a peacekeeper and will serve as the point man between police, protesters and the community in an effort to keep people safe during the protests.

CBC: Elsipogtog chief appoints ‘peacekeeper’ in shale gas dispute

SOURCE:http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/story/2013/06/27/nb-shale-gas-elsipogtog-1217.html

Elsipogtog chief appoints ‘peacekeeper’ in shale gas dispute

Chief Arren Sock repeats calls for moratorium on shale gas exploration

CBC News

Posted: Jun 27, 2013 12:29 PM AT

Last Updated: Jun 27, 2013 7:01 PM AT

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Elsipogtog First Nation Chief Arren Sock has appointed a “peacekeeper” to deal with growing tensions over shale gas exploration in his eastern New Brunswick community.

SWN Resources Canada, which is conducting seismic testing in the area, has been met by nearly four weeks of protests.

Elsipogtog First Nation Chief Arren Sock called for a moratorium on shale gas exploration on Thursday. Elsipogtog First Nation Chief Arren Sock called for a moratorium on shale gas exploration on Thursday. (Jennifer Choi/CBC)RCMP have arrested 33 people, some of them aboriginals, at or around various demonstrations in Kent County in recent weeks.

“We will continue to say no to shale gas,” Sock told a news conference on Thursday.

Sock again called for a moratorium on shale gas exploration, but said something had to be done now because the possibility for violence has escalated.

He appointed Wendall Nicholas, a member of the Tobique First Nation, as a “peacekeeper.”

“We have asked Mr. Nicholas to now focus on assisting us in establishing the Elsipogtog peacekeepers who will be mandated to maintain peace and order and to protect our people and ensure public safety,” said Sock.

Will serve as liaison

Nicholas previously worked with the RCMP to develop a national protocol on conflict resolution involving aboriginals.

“There is information about cultural practices that I think we all need to understand. And that there’s a diversity about how those cultural practices occur, so we’ll do our best to share information as best as possible,” said Nicholas.

He said he’ll be available when there is friction between police and protesters, native and non-native. He hopes to act as a liaison in order to defuse any situations that become tense in the future, he said.

Nicholas said he and the band council plan to meet with RCMP to talk about how they can work together.

‘I think it’s very important to bring in peacekeepers. We don’t want another Oka.’—Susan Levi-Peters, former Elsipogtog chief

“They will be contacting me, and I will reach out to the community leaders to determine the best course of action to resolve something quickly.”

Protesters say they feel intimidated by the number of police officers.

While police and demonstrators agree the majority of the time things are peaceful, some of the arrests have been made when people are performing cultural rituals, blocking SWN trucks.

Police say that action is illegal, so they have to step in.

“The RCMP have a mandate, and so it’s not for me to question that mandate,” said Nicholas. “But my role is understanding that they too have said that they want to have people safe. So we will do that together as best possible.”

Former Elsipogtog chief Susan Levi-Peters says Nicholas has entered the situation at the right time.

“Things will be a lot better,” she said. “I think it’s very important to bring in peacekeepers. We don’t want another Oka or we don’t want another Dudley George case here.”

Protest site moved

Anti-shale gas protesters moved their camp away from Harcourt and closer to the Elsipogtog First Nation. Anti-shale gas protesters moved their camp away from Harcourt and closer to the Elsipogtog First Nation. (Stephen Puddicombe/CBC)Earlier on Thursday, protesters, who call themselves protectors of the land, moved their campsite from Highway 126 in Harcourt.

Most of the protesters are from Elsipogtog First Nation and they have moved their sacred fire down the road, closer to home.

Gary Simon, a spokesperson for the group, said the decision shouldn’t be seen as giving up the protest against seismic testing.

“They are pretty much done seismic testing over here, they are testing closer to the Elsipogtog reserve, and we’ll be closer to home, closer to family, closer to support,” he said.

There was a heavy police presence in the area on Wednesday after a drilling machine was set on fire and destroyed.

People involved in the protest say they are against such acts of vandalism.

RC: Manifestations: Elsipogtog propose des gardiens de la paix

SOURCE: http://www.radio-canada.ca/regions/atlantique/2013/06/27/006-elsipogtog-manifestations-gaz-schiste.shtml

Manifestations : Elsipogtog propose des gardiens de la paix

Mise à jour le jeudi 27 juin 2013 à 17 h 37 HAA

VIDEO: http://www.radio-canada.ca/regions/atlantique/2013/06/27/006-elsipogtog-manifestations-gaz-schiste.shtml

La communauté autochtone d’Elsipogtog, au Nouveau-Brunswick, annonce la création d’une unité de gardiens de la paix dans la foulée des manifestations contre l’industrie gazière.

Les gardiens de la paix auront pour tâche de veiller sur la sécurité des gens qui participent à des manifestations pacifiques, qu’ils soient, ou non, autochtones.

Le chef Arren Sock a annoncé cette mesure jeudi matin, « pour le maintien de la paix, pour protéger nos gens et veiller sur la sécurité du public », a-t-il dit.

Wendall Nicholas, de la communauté de Tobique, est nommé responsable des gardiens de la paix. Il est aussi chargé de maintenir une liaison avec la GRC, et de produire un rapport sur le traitement des Autochtones. M. Nicholas dit qu’il restera neutre dans l’exécution de son mandat.

Arren Sock demande l’imposition d’un moratoire sur les activités de prospection gazière. Il ajoute que sa communauté va continuer à s’opposer à l’industrie du gaz de schiste.
Patricia Légère, membre d’une coalition d’organismes anti schistes, croit que son groupe est un pas dans la bonne direction.

« Dans tous les grands groupes, il y a toujours des individus qui font des choix, qui ne sont pas nécessairement le désir du groupe, affirme-t-elle. C’est pour ça que c’est bon d’avoir un focus. »

Elsipogtog  Photo :  Hélène Branch/Radio-Canada

Des manifestations se déroulent depuis trois semaines le long de la route 126, où l’entreprise SWN Resources Canada effectue des tests sismiques dans l’espoir de trouver du gaz. Une trentaine de personnes ont été arrêtées jusqu’à présent lors de ces manifestations.

Dans les derniers jours de l’équipement a été incendié, et des arbres coupés au travers d’une route, des incidents qui font l’objet d’une enquête.

Un protocole pour la marche à suivre en cas de conflits a été établi entre l’Assemblée des Premières nations et la GRC, et servira de modèle aux gardiens de la paix d’Elsipogtog.

CBC: Situation in Kent County getting dangerous, warn RCMP

Situation in Kent County getting dangerous, warn RCMP

Confrontation, suspected arson latest incidents where SWN Resources is doing seismic testing

CBC News

Posted: Jun 25, 2013 5:57 PM AT

Last Updated: Jun 25, 2013 7:07 PM AT

The RCMP are warning that the situation is getting dangerous in Kent County, where SWN Resources Canada is conducting seismic testing for shale gas.

On Tuesday morning, about 50 people surrounded security workers north of Route 116, near Bass River, said Cpl. Chantal Farrah.

A few hours later, a piece of industrial equipment in the same area was destroyed by fire in a suspected case of arson, she said.

Farrah would not confirm whether the incidents are related to SWN and company officials said they won’t comment on security matters.

But Tuesday’s incidents are the latest in a string of problems in the area in recent weeks, including property damage and protesters being arrested.

“Any time the police are called to a situation where someone fears for their safety, that is a concern,” said Farrah.

“We’re taking this very seriously,” she said.

“You know we all want to live and work in a safe environment and that’s why I’d encourage people to assist the police with this.”

No one was injured in the early morning confrontation on the logging road, said Farrah.

Once officers arrived at the scene, the security staff were able to leave safely, she said.

“People are putting themselves in harm’s way by acting this way and putting other people’s security at risk as well, so this is definitely not a practise the police support and that’s why we’re investigating the incident.”

A few hours later, shortly after 8 a.m., the Beersville Fire Department called police about a suspected arson that had taken place on a logging road, about three kilometres into the woods.

“They managed to contain the fire so that it did not spread into the nearby woods,” said Farrah.

The fire marshal’s office and several RCMP resources, including a fire cause investigator, forensic identification experts and the police dog are assisting with the investigation, she said.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the RCMP or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

SWN Resources is conducting seismic testing in Kent County to determine if developing a shale gas industry in the province is viable.

The Alward government has faced two years of protests against developing the shale gas industry and in particular, the use of the contentious practice of hydraulic fracturing or hydro-fracking.

Hydro-fracking is a process where exploration companies inject a mixture of water, sand and chemicals into the ground, creating cracks in shale rock formations to extract natural gas from areas that would otherwise go untapped.

Opponents are concerned the process will ruin the water supply and damage the surrounding environment.

APTN: Tensions escalating in northern New Brunswick as anti-fracking protest continues

Source: http://aptn.ca/pages/news/2013/06/25/tensions-escalating-in-northern-new-brunswick-as-anti-fracking-protest-continues/

Tensions escalating in northern New Brunswick as anti-fracking protest continues

National News | 25. Jun, 2013 by | 0 Comments

 

(YouTube video shows recent RCMP arrest of First Nations man as he drums on Hwy 126)

Tim Fontaine and Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
ELSIPOGTOG FIRST NATION — Unspecified “industrial equipment” was torched early Tuesday morning near the area of an ongoing anti-fracking protest in northern New Brunswick, says the RCMP, as tensions continue to rise as a result of ongoing police action against demonstrators there.

An RCMP spokeswoman said Tuesday afternoon that a “large piece of industrial equipment” was destroyed by fire in the early morning hours in an area near Bass River, NB.

The scene of the fire sits several kilometres from the site of an ongoing protest against fracking led by people from the Mi’kmaq community of Elsipogtog.

Over 30 people have been arrested, including elders and youth. Protestors have dug in to stop shale gas exploration work.  Extracting operations would likely result in the use of hydraulic-fracturing, or fracking. The exploration work is being handled by SWN Resources Canada.

A controversial process, fracking involves injecting water, sand and chemicals into the ground to crack shale rock formations and draw trapped natural gas out. Opponents say this process can poison the water table.

Cpl. Chantal Farrah wouldn’t say what kind of equipment was burned or who owned it, saying only that it belonged to a company “that has been doing work in the area.”

Farrah said investigators have no suspects and wouldn’t say whether there was any link between the arson and ongoing protests in the area.

“I can’t tie that together,” said Farrah, who is based in Fredericton, the provincial capital which sits about 165 kilometres southwest of Elsipogtog. “We had various types of activity in that area.”

Farrah said before the equipment was torched RCMP officers were called to intervene when about 50 people surrounded security personnel working for the unspecified company. Farrah said two trucks belonging to the security personnel were taken to the RCMP station in Elsipogtog.

Protestors claimed they had seized equipment from the site including parts for drills and explosives used in seismic testing and turned it over the RCMP.

Farrah said the police force did not receive any of the equipment and investigators were not aware anything had been taken.

“Nothing like that was turned over,” she said.

At the protest camp, which is along Hwy 126, the atmosphere remained calm. A sacred fire continues to burn and supporters from across the country have begun to migrate to the area which has become a focal point for the stirring “Sovereignty Summer” movement headed by Idle No More and Defenders of the Land. The alliance issued a national call out Monday to support the ongoing protest.

The Kahnawake Warrior Society said it was monitoring the situation and in contact with people at the protest.

Katrina Clair, 26, from Elsipogtog First Nation, said there are no plans to end the protest until the exploration work stops.

“No negotiations, nothing, no is no and that’s it,” said Clair.

The mood, however, appears to be shifting as a result of continued RCMP actions against the protestors which included the arrests of women, elders and youth.

On Sunday, RCMP officers were pelted with beer bottles after arriving at a large outdoor party in Elsipogtog which was attended by about 100 people. One officer was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries and the cruiser was vandalized.

Sgt. Dustin Ward, who has been based in the community for about a year, wouldn’t say whether the incident was connected to RCMP actions against the protestors, allowing only that the investigation would determine the link.

“I am sure there are people that are upset at the situation, but for us we are still going to calls and going about our business,” said Ward.

Ward said the detachment had no suspects connected to the incident.

While the protest has the support of the Elsiopogtog chief and council, senior First Nations leadership in the province condemned the continued action.

The Assembly of First Nations Chiefs in New Brunswick said economic development is urgently needed and accused the anti-fracking protestors of wanting to keep the Indigenous people in the area in poverty.

“We cannot agree with those who want to keep our people in poverty,” said a statement from the organization issued last week. “Or those from outside our communities who do not have to live with the consequences of their rhetoric.”

The statement under the title, NB Chiefs Take Strong Stand on Natural Resource Development in New Brunswick, called on the provincial government and industry to negotiate a deal with First Nations.

Darcy Gray, chief councillor for Listuguj First Nation, a Mi’kmaq community about 273 kilometres west of Elsiopogtog on the NB-Quebec border, said the position of the AFNCNB was disappointing.

“It is horrible, it sends a mixed message when we as First Nations people say we protect the environment above all else, but then you have the First Nations chiefs in New Brunswick saying we want a cut,” said Gray. “It’s just horrible. To say it’s a strong statement is just ridiculous.”

Gray said the stakes are high in the battle over fracking in New Brunswick.

“From our point of view in Listuguj this is ground zero for this fight between environment versus industry,” he said. “If they break it now, if they get the go-ahead for shale gas at this stage of the game and the chiefs don’t step up and do what’s right for mother earth, we’re all next. It’s just a matter of time.”

@anishinaboy

tfontaine@aptn.ca

jbarrera@aptn.ca

@JorgeBarrera

HMC: 12 more opposed to shale gas arrested as RCMP turn violent on National Aboriginal Day

12 more opposed to shale gas arrested as RCMP turn violent on National Aboriginal Day

Man throws himself under moving thumper, cops punch his partner in face

by Miles Howe

Segewaat, who has been tending the sacred fire for over a week, was among the first to be arrested [Photo: M. Howe]
Segewaat, who has been tending the sacred fire for over a week, was among the first to be arrested [Photo: M. Howe]
Elsipogtog community member, eight and a half months pregnant. [Photo: M. Howe]
Elsipogtog community member, eight and a half months pregnant. [Photo: M. Howe]
War chiefs' brother, arrested. [Photo: M. Howe]
War chiefs’ brother, arrested. [Photo: M. Howe]
After the initial arrests [Photo: M. Howe]
After the initial arrests [Photo: M. Howe]
Upset. [Photo: M. Howe]
Upset. [Photo: M. Howe]
Jumping under a moving thumper. [Photo: M. Howe]
Jumping under a moving thumper. [Photo: M. Howe]
Another subsequent arrest. [Photo: M. Howe]
Another subsequent arrest. [Photo: M. Howe]
Subsequent arrest. Eyewitnesses note this woman was punched in the mouth by RCMP. [Photo: M.Howe]
Subsequent arrest. Eyewitnesses note this woman was punched in the mouth by RCMP. [Photo: M.Howe]

See also:

ELSIPOGTOG, NEW BRUNSWICK – 12 more people were arrested today in their attempts to stop SWN Resources Canada from conducting seismic testing along highway 126, in Kent County, New Brunswick.

At about 1:15pm, a convoy of cars parked themselves on River Lane, near the town of Kent Junction, about 100 metres from the thumpers. About 40 people then stationed themselves on the side of the road adjacent to the 3 thumpers, and began drumming and singing. The thumpers stopped their procession, and a group then stationed themselves in front of the trucks, blocking their paths.

RCMP forces then arrived, and a confrontation – as happened last Friday morning when 12 people were arrested attempting to halt the thumpers – ensued. The RCMP approached the gathered crowd in a line formation that spanned the highway. The crowd in front of the thumpers thinned to about ten people while the remainder of the crowd moved to the shoulder of the highway and continued to drum and sing.

RCMP then arrested 8 people, including one Mi’kmaq woman eight and a half months pregnant. It should be noted that one non-Indigenous woman from the local community who had stationed herself in front of the thumpers – and who claimed that it was her full intent to be arrested – was instead forced to the side of the road by RCMP. Whether this was based on an intent to paint those arrested as being from the local Indigenous community is unclear.

Things continued for about 2 hours in something of a standoff, with a line of RCMP in front of a line of Indigenous and non-Indigenous protestors. The thumper trucks sat parked on the highway.

What happened next happened very quickly, and is it difficult to precisely determine the exact chain of events.

A signal came from one RCMP officer, and the line of about 20 police that flanked those opposed to shale gas exploration and drilling began moving into an action pattern. The RCMP officer closest to the thumpers stepped from the highway onto the shoulder of the road, effectively creating a human barricade between the thumpers and the last person on the shoulder of the road. The thumpers then started their engines, and began to drive off.

From the back of the line, one man then quickly broke through the line of RCMP and threw himself under the lead moving thumper. Another man then ran across the road and was quickly taken down. A woman – who witnesses say is the partner of the first man who went under the truck – was then removed from the line by RCMP officer Plourde. Eyewitnesses say that the woman was dragged from the shoulder of the road, and was never on the highway. Eyewitnesses also say that she was subsequently punched in the face. Photographs show the woman with blood coming from the side of her mouth.

In total, today’s 12 arrests – which just happens to be National Aboriginal Day – brings us to 29 arrests from both the Mi’kmaq and non-Indigenous communities.

APTN: Arrests made at sacred fire protest in New Brunswick

Arrests made at sacred fire protest in New Brunswick

National News | 14. Jun, 2013 by | 5 Comments

APTN National News
Twelve people were arrested Friday morning by the RCMP at the site of a sacred fire as part of an on-going protest in New Brunswick over seismic testing in the area.

RCMP spokeswoman Cpl. Chantal Farrah said the arrests were made because people were attempting to block trucks and workers.

Farrah said seven men and five women were taken into custody on Route 126 outside Moncton near Elisipogtog First Nation.

The sacred fire was lit by members of Elsipogtog on June 11 beside a highway where seismic testing vehicles are searching for shale gas deposits.

Opponents of the exploration fear that once the company, SWN Resources Canada, finds shale gas, it won’t be long before it employs a controversial drilling technique called hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking, to get at it.

Photos on social media show some of the arrests, including one that appears to be a man holding a sacred pipe, with his hands in plastic cuffs.

tfontaine@aptn.ca