Aboriginal Justice

ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: SWN makes hasty retreat from Signigtog region of New Brunswick

In an apparent about face, the U.S.-based oil and gas company, Southwestern Energy Resources Canada (“SWN”) has suspended its seismic testing operations in New Brunswick, announcing it will return in 2015.  The company issued its brief public statement late Friday afternoon, 6 December.

Previously, the company’s stated intention was to finish the exploration phase of its contract with the provincial government, despite ongoing opposition by Mi’kmaq, Acadian, and Anglophone protectors of the land.  CPT can confirm that SWN did not finish testing nor gather all necessary data regarding gas deposits in Kent County.

Protectors had maintained an encampment close to Highway 11 in Kent County and were not deterred by consistent heavy RCMP presence accompanying SWN nor the multiple arrests of protestors made in the last month.  (CPT partner and Elsipogtog resident Lorraine Clair was one of those arrested.  See interview.)

After a judge refused to extend the gas company’s initial injunction against protectors on 21 October, SWN filed another injunction on 22 November, which a second judge did grant.  Similar in content to the first injunction, it prohibited protectors from coming within a certain distance of SWN equipment, and/or impeding SWN’s work.

New Brunswick also officially joined the injunction in support of SWN.  New Brunswick Premier David Alward has called the protectors’ opposition a “beachhead” and refuses to engage in dialogue with those who oppose shale gas exploration.

ABORIGINAL JUSTICE REFLECTION: Finding the Church’s place 250 years after the Royal Proclamation.

Three years ago in Algonquin territory, an elder of Barriere Lake taught me about the Three Figure Agreement wampum belt.  It displays a trio of human figures; French, English and Algonquin, standing hand-in-hand beside the unmistakable form of the cross. “Some folks get angry when they see that cross” said the elder through his translator. “But I tell them why it’s there: because the Church promised to make sure that the Europeans kept their promises.”

As a Christian aiming to live and work in solidarity with the First Peoples of this land, I find it hard to ignore the Church’s history of abuse and betrayal as it collaborated with the colonial project.  Discerning how to be a faithful Christian given that knowledge is a challenge.  

Recently I accompanied a delegation of First Nation chiefs, elders & veterans to London, capital of my UK homeland, a city built on the spoils of Empire and cluttered with colonial mementos and monuments. A number of other Christians of both native and non-native heritage joined the delegation to mark 250 years since the Royal Proclamation of 1763 that set the stage for treaty-making.  In discussions, the role of the Church in these treaties became clearer to me.

Indigenous nations had long-established forms and traditions for international treaty-making, but the British government did not adopt a consistent policy regarding treaties until the Royal Proclamation.

 The Church’s significance for Indigenous negotiators can be emphasised by considering different interpretations of “treaty”—the European understanding of them as surrender of land, and the Indigenous conception as a relationship for mutual sharing of lands, technology and gifts. If a treaty is covenant, not land surrender, the spiritual dimension is central, and the Church’s presence must have reassured negotiators that these newcomers understood what they were committing to.

Elsipogtog: An Ugly Day in New Brunswick

Thursday 17 October was an "ugly day in the history of the province of New Brunswick,” according to Mi'kmaq Chief Arren Sock as he prepared to meet with Premier David Alward the following day.

At approximately 6 AM, the RCMP broke the blockade of vehicles owned by SWN Resources parked in a compound near Rexton, New Brunswick. The Mi’kmaq of Elsipogtog First Nation, together with their Acadian and Anglophone allies, kept the gate blockaded for 19 days, even in the face of a court injunction acquired by the US-based company doing seismic testing for the presence of shale gas.

ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: Elsipogtog: Patience is a virtue

ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: Elsipogtog: Patience is a virtue

Standing at the BlockadeEntering its second week, the blockade at the Southwestern Energy Resources (SWN) “thumper” compound on Route 134 near Rexton, New Brunswick shows no signs of ending.

First Peoples from Elsipogtog and other communities, as well as Acadian and Anglophone protectors, make up the encampment. CPTers Chris Sabas and Carrie Peters also remain within the encampment, enjoying brief respites off site thanks to the generosity of local community members. Donated food and supplies continue to arrive at the encampment.

Elsipogtog: Blockade Begins

On Sunday, 29 September 2013, Elsipogtog women protectors blocked the entrance to a recently constructed compound housing Southwestern Energy Resources Canada (SWN) equipment on local Highway 134, near present-day Rexton, New Brunswick.  The compound is located on Elsipogtog traditional territory, which is unceded land.

Within minutes they were joined by other indigenous protectors, as well as Acadian and Anglophone community members. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) attempted to re-secure the entrance to the compound, but the unarmed protectors successfully stood their ground. An encampment was erected. At the time of this release, the blockade has entered its fifth day. All SWN property within the compound remains untouched and unmolested.

Aboriginal Justice: Breaking News - CPT invited to accompany delegation to Britain

Indigenous and faith leaders in Canada have invited Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) to accompany a delegation to Britain from 2-9 October, 2013, marking the Royal Proclamation of 1763.

The Proclamation of King George III was an attempt following the Seven Year's War to set policy for the new British territories in North America. The proclamation is significant for recognising a form of territorial sovereignty for First Peoples, including the Crown's need to secure consent for future settlement or expansion.

Although the Canadian Constitution recognises “existing aboriginal and treaty rights,” the government continues to neglect the need for consent for projects affecting First Nations peoples, contributing to widespread land-rights violations.

In the United States, the protection from predatory settlement offered by the Royal Proclamation was one of the causes for the American Revolution, as settlers broke away from imperial Britain to pursue expansion unfettered by agreements with the First Peoples.

Mi'kmaq campaigners involved in the current resistance to shale gas extraction recently referenced the Royal Proclamation in an official request for the Queen's intervention. The team will support this call, and connect with UK anti-fracking campaigners.

#GIVINGTUESDAY It was important that CPT was able to send representatives on short notice after it received the invitation from indigenous leaders.  We need to have a reserve of funds so that we can respond to requests such as these.  They go a long way toward building alliances and trust.

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CPT INTERNATIONAL: CPT Americas Convergence to participate in School of the Americas witness at Fort Benning, 20-24 November

 

Join us this November for the first ever CPT Americas Convergence in Georgia, USA.   CPTers and supporters from Turtle Island (North America) to the Southern Cone will gather for five days of formative events including worship, public protest, fellowship, accompaniment, and the opportunity for nonviolent direct action Wednesday, 20 November through Sunday, 24 November 2013.  

CPT will partner with the Alterna Community and former Steering Committee member Anton Flores-Maisonet, based in LaGrange, GA to participate in an annual public witness and civil disobedience action at the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin.   Stewart, a privately run prison, is the largest immigrant detention center in the United States. Alterna and Georgia Detention Watch have long monitored this facility, documenting violations of human rights and detention standards and organizing vigils to remember the detainees trapped there as well as Roberto MartĂ­nez Medina who died while in detention at Stewart.

Following the witness in Lumpkin, CPT will join thousands gathered at the gates of Ft. Benning in Columbus, GA to call for the closure of the infamous U.S. Army School of the Americas (SOA).  Since 1946, this “School of Assassins” has trained over 64,000 Latin American soldiers in counterinsurgency techniques, psychological warfare, military intelligence, and interrogation tactics.  SOA graduates have consistently used their skills to wage a war against their own people, targeting educators, union organizers, religious workers, student leaders, and others who work for the rights of the poor.   They have tortured, raped, “disappeared,” assassinated, and massacred hundreds and thousands of Latin Americans.   Although the official name changed in 2001 from SOA to WHINSEC (Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation), the school under any name is synonymous with torture and impunity.

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.