Aboriginal Justice

Prayers for Peacemakers, 13 September 2013

 

Epixel* for 15 September 2013
 You would confound the plans of the poor, but the LORD is their refuge
Psalm 14:6
.
*epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to and appearing
with a text from the upcoming Sunday's Revised Common Lectionary
readings.

Prayers for Peacemakers, 13 September 2013

Pray that the governing bodies of Canada, New Brunswick, and the Southwestern Energy (SWN) corporation recognize the historic right of the Original Peoples of the Wabanaki-Mi’gmag District of Signigtog to evict SWN from their unceded lands and demand compensation for the damage its operations have caused.

 

Related Stories:

ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: Wabanaki-Mi’gmag District of Signigtog issues historic directive to SWN


ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: "We do not accept the unacceptable" –Elsipogtog First Nation media release


ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: "We do not accept the unacceptable" –Elsipogtog First Nation media release

September 6, 2013 at 1:36pm
Elsipogtog First Nation, New Brunswick

The Original People of the Wabanaki-Mi'gmag District of Signigtog have, for the first time in known history, used their collective authority to stop shale gas activity in New Brunswick.  Based in Elsipogtog, together with allies from Acadian, Anglophone and First Peoples' communities, the Signigtog Grand Council and Collective Community of Concerned Members of Signigtog have issued a directive to shale gas developer Southwestern Energy (SWN) to stop all shale gas activities, leave the territory, and compensate the people for harm caused by their operations.

Kenneth Francis of Signigtog said, “Creator made us caretakers of Mother Earth.  Our goal as the Collective Community of Concerned Members of Signigtog is to protect Mother Earth because we're killing her.  She's already endured too much.  We will lose our clean water if we sit back and allow what the shale gas companies are planning on doing in Signigtog.  What they are planning is unacceptable.  We do not accept the unacceptable.”

Directive available here.

ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: Wabanaki-Mi’gmag District of Signigtog issues historic directive to SWN

The Original Peoples of the Wabanaki-Mi’gmag District of Signigtog (of which the Elsipogtog community is a part) asserted their authority over the lands and waterways affected by proposed shale gas exploration by issuing SouthWestern Energy Resources (“SWN”) a Directive on Friday, 30 August 2013.

When European explorers first landed in what is now the Canadian Atlantic Province of New Brunswick, they encountered a vast, multi-faceted nation of aboriginal peoples known collectively as the Mi’gmag.  The Mi’gmag consist of more than a dozen bands, one of which is Elsipogtog First Nation, located in traditional Mi’gmag territory known as Signigtog—or District Six.

The Mi’gmag territory was divided into seven traditional "districts."  Each district had its own independent government and boundaries.  The independent governments had a district chief and a council, or Grand Council.  The district council members were band chiefs, elders, and other community leaders. The district council was in essence an independent government that enacted laws, ran a judicial system, apportioned fishing and hunting grounds, engaged in war and sued for peace.

ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: CPT delegation attends Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School Commemoration gathering


DSCN3526

Imagine a people, devastated by the idea that white society had the right to take native children from their parents.  Imagine a government using these malnourished children as test subjects in nutritional experiments.  This history is the truth of the Indian Residential School system and what we learned on the site of Cecilia Jeffrey, once a Presbyterian-run Residential School.

Starting in the nineteenth Century, the government took native children in Canada away from their families and sent them to Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Mennonite Residential Schools.  School administrators gave them different names, forbade them to speak their own language, and did not allow them to see their parents.

ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: Join delegation to sovereign Elsipogtog First Nation 27 September - 7 October 2013

From time immemorial, the peoples of the sovereign Mi’kmaq territory of Signigtog have lived upon their traditional lands with their own governments, political systems, language, culture, spirituality, and diverse means of livelihood.  They have never surrendered their sovereignty or jurisdiction over their lands.



In 1701, the British Crown began to sign Peace and Friendship Treaties with the Mi'kmaq, Maliseet, Passamaquoddy, and Penobscot First Peoples to end hostilities and encourage cooperation between the British and First Peoples.  The Peace and Friendship Treaties recognize Aboriginal sovereignty and title to the lands they traditionally use and occupy.  What is now called Crown Land in the Province of New Brunswick is unceded land and subject to Mi’kmaq jurisdiction.

On 14 May 2012, the Band Council of Elsipogtog First Nation, a Mi'kmaq community, passed a resolution opposing shale gas exploration and development within Elsipogtog First Nation and the Province of New Brunswick, citing concerns about the environment and the need for direct consultation by the Crown.  On 30 May 2013, the Mi'kmaq Grand Council of the Signigtog District 6 issued a public notice prohibiting all “shale gas exploration and/or development” without the “expressed written consent and full participation of the Mi'kmaq Grand Council and the Mi'kmaq people of the Signigtog District.”

This delegation will replace the delegation originally scheduled to go to Grassy Narrows during these dates.

FUNDRAISING EXPECTATION: $625 (Cdn or USD). Delegates arrange and pay for their own transportation to  Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada.

Click here to apply. 

ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: SWN temporarily halts seismic testing at Elsipogtog

Elsipogtog First Nation protectors and SWN Resources Canada (‘SWN’) have reached an understanding that has resulted in an apparent temporary cessation of seismic testing.

 
 Elsipogtog Warrior Chief John Levi
 Photo: Miles Howe

Representatives of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (‘RCMP’), Warrior Chief John Levi, former Elsipogtog Band Chief Susan Levi, District Warrior Chief “Seven,” Elsipogtog Peacekeepers and other community members held a meeting on 30 July with SWN.  SWN will detonate several un-exploded shot holes located on seismic Line 5, but agreed not to continue seismic testing and to remove the rest of their equipment. 

The police will dismiss criminal charges against twenty-five of the thirty-five people arrested since non-violent direct actions began in June.  Community members gave SWN until Friday 2 August to complete the agreed upon tasks.  A team of observers from the Elsipogtog community, including eight scouts, three Grandmothers and two Elsipogtog Peacekeepers accompanied SWN workers to monitor operations.  SWN said it would return mid-September to continue seismic testing along seismic Lines 3 and 4.

ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: Elsipogtog resistance to shale gas exploration intensifies

Elsipogtog protectors of the land and water, together with representatives of other First Nation, Acadian, and Anglophone communities, continue to stand together in nonviolent resistance to ongoing SWN Resources Canada (“SWN”) exploratory natural gas seismic testing.

The week began with protectors discovering unexploded ordnance behind a cemetery, near Rogersville on 21 July 2013.  The cemetery parallels SWN seismic ‘Line 5.’  SWN has received licenses to test along multiple sites within Kent and surrounding counties, with five testing lines designated for exploration.  Most are deep within the bush.  Line 5 in particular has been heavily patrolled by RCMP and private security.  A canister of C4 explosive was observed in a private driveway designated for testing, only yards away from a private residence.

In addition to the concerns regarding the unexploded ordnance, SWN appeared to be in violation of regulations that setbacks of cemeteries should be at least fifty meters away from a seismic energy source.  SWN’s seismic testing equipment sat just two meters away.…

Local members of the resistance asked CPTers Stewart Vriesinga and Chris Sabas to proceed with two other vehicles to the work site.  As the group waited for others to arrive, a female protector, identifying herself as ‘Pocahontas,’ decided to strap herself to bundles slated for helicopter transport.  CPTer Sabas's interview with Pocahontas is avilable at http://youtu.be/07OxXf3-jDQ.  

ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: Video shows Elsipogtog community undoing police harassment

 

On 21 July 2013, members of the Elsipogtog community who are trying to protect their traditional lands from fracking discovered that SWN Resources Canada had an unknown amount of unexploded ordinance behind a cemetery, located on Pleasant Ridge Road, Rogersville, New Brunswick.

 The cemetery, owned by the local Catholic diocese, borders a seismic testing line known as “Line 5” that Canadian police have been heavily guarding.  The video shows police trying to prevent Elsipogtog members from parking in a lot located directly across the street from the cemetery where a Catholic church had once stood.  The police told protectors the lot was private property and the landowner had not given permission for "protesters" to be on site, where at least a dozen police and private security vehicles had parked.  Lorraine Claire of the Elsipogtog First Nation had, however, obtained permission from caretakers of the property to park there.  Watch how she and other protectors of the land peacefully confront the police. 

ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: A week with the Elsipogtog anti-fracking resistance

In November 2010 Canada finally signed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which declares, “States will consult and obtain free, prior and informed consent for any project affecting the land, territory or resources of indigenous peoples.”  (Art.32-2)

Elsipogtog, a Mi’kmaq First Nation in New Brunswick, was not consulted and certainly do not consent to the seismic survey of their land in preparation for fracking for shale gas.  They have joined with equally concerned non-aboriginal residents in the area to stop the exploration.  Canadian police arrested thirty-three protestors in June.

On Sunday 30 June, Chris Sabas and I, representing the CPT Aboriginal Justice Team, arrived in Elsipogtog at the invitation of John Levi, leader at the Sacred Fire camp.  Colourful flags, abundant signage and a community of Indigenous, Acadian, and Anglo folk, welcomed us to their tent-city and the sacred fire.

 


Photo by Greg Cook SJ

Prayers for Peacemakers, July 13, 2013

Epixel* for July 14, 2013
"How long will you judge
unjustly and show
partiality to the wicked?…"
Psalm 82:2

Prayers for Peacemakers, June 13, 2013

Give thanks that Warrior Chief John Levi of Elsipogtog was released on his own recognizance on Monday after an arrest for probation violations stemming from a June 21 demonstration in which Canadian police had arrested other people, but had neither arrested nor cited him.  The arrest seemed designed to do harm to Levi’s standing in his community.