Elsipogtog Anti-fracking Struggle: Where to Go From Here?

Some suggestions from a warrior presently in Elsipogtog

by Ambrose Williams / Warrior Publicatons

new-brunswick-prayer-highwayElsipogtog has been in battle for over 7 months.  SWN has left Kent County and the nation has been left to pick up the pieces. After driving down various roads, including Highway 11, 134, Lafiouk, and Lakewood encampments, you can see the remnants of battlegrounds long past. “SWN GO HOME , NO SHALE GAS” signs remain scattered about the highways.

The intention was peaceful in nature but with the RCMP’s increased presence and SWN’s aggressive maneuvers in the courtrooms, the community’s frustration reached a breaking point. Oct.17th was a landmark in modern history. It demonstrated the federal government’s agenda will not be slowed down. The community is left to ask the question “Where do we go from here?”

Warriors from far and wide have come to help the community fight SWN. The spotlight is shining brightly on Elsipogtog.  Against all odds there is a shining light at the end of the tunnel. The community is left stronger.  There has been an opening of communication between Elsipogtog nation and the Acadians. The young generation has started to ask questions. Canada is starting to wake up and listen to aboriginal nations.

SWNs’ injunction was a slap in the face for New Brunswick, which effectively banned protesting, a violation of constitutional rights. The most disturbing term was that protesters had to remain 20m on the side of SWN vehicles. There have been over 50 arrests from the court injunction. Many of those have been dropped by RCMP. 4 warriors are still currently in jail. The mailing address can be found at the bottom of this writing submission. They would like to hear from you through mail.

new-brunswick-group-photo

Some of the land defenders that participated in anti-fracking resistance in New Brunswick, November 2013.

Aboriginal Title
Aboriginal title is a contentious issue that has been brought before time and time again in the Supreme Court. The major questions are “Who has control of Canada’s natural resources,” “How do you undo 200 years of encroachment of non-First Nations?” and “What is the legal definition of Aboriginal Title?”

Delgamuukw (Gitskan and Wet’suwet’en vs. B.C. ) was a case that started in the West Coast. BC’s main defence at trial was that all aboriginal land rights in BC were extinguished by laws of the colonial government before it became part of Canada in 1871, when authority to pass laws in relation to Indians was transferred to Canada.

The court said that aboriginal title is a right to the land itself. Until this decision, no Canadian court had so directly addressed the definition of aboriginal title. Other cases had dealt with aboriginal rights in terms of the right to use the land for traditional purposes such as hunting. Aboriginal title is a property right that goes much further than aboriginal rights of usage. Permitted uses of aboriginal lands are no longer limited to traditional practices. For example, mining could be a permitted use, even if mining was never a part of the First Nation’s traditional culture. In many ways, Aboriginal title is just like ordinary land ownership.  The owner can exclude others from the property, extract resources from it, use it for business or pleasure. But there are important differences, too.
– Aboriginal title is a communal right. An individual cannot hold aboriginal title. This means that decisions about land must be made by the community as a whole.

– Because aboriginal title is based on a First Nation’s relationship with the land, these lands cannot be used for a purpose inconsistent with that continuing relationship. For example, if the people’s culture was based on hunting, their aboriginal title lands could not be paved over or strip-mined if that would destroy their cultural relationship to the land.

– Aboriginal title lands can be sold only to the federal government.

– Aboriginal title has the additional protection of being a constitutional right. No government can unduly interfere with aboriginal title unless the interference meets strict constitutional tests of justification.

Except for these limitations, Aboriginal title holders can use their lands as they wish.

There is a number of ways to combat this on the political level. I have compiled a list of activities that people can work through in the upcoming months for wins in the political sphere. These are merely suggestions that people can use when approaching the public.
The protests have gathered spotlights from across the country. Its time to utilize those lights for political wins, which can be done in a variety of ways. This should be a community effort. Try to get everyone involved. Pull resources and supporters to work on individual projects with the end goal of a moratorium on fracking in the province of New Brunswick. These ideas came from my work with ALIVE (Aboriginal Life In Vancouver Enhancement Society) in the past few years.

Political Attack On Fracking

There is a number of avenues that one can approach this issue in the political arena.

– Surveys: Make up online survey to distribute through your networks. This will help guide your Teach-ins, Panel Discussions, and Pamphlets to information that the public is wanting more information regarding Fracking. That will help with not over-loading people with information on topics that they already know about.

– Teach-ins: Bring communities together through community dinners or other social events. This helps break down barriers and establish a network of supporters for information to move freely in the community.

– Network, Network, Network: Get out there and meet the public. Those in your community know the negative effects of fracking. Share that information in as many forums as possible.

– Panel Discussions: That involve leading researchers, scientists, environmentalists. These can be community events that are fun and engaging. Have childrens’ events so parents can attend. This adds credibility to your cause by having big name speakers to the public at large. Utilize your media contacts to spread the word about your event.

– Pamphlets: Have them made for handing out at your events that will lead to your website. Include information on after effects of fracking, why is it different in New Brunswick and Alberta. Shale gas in NB has to be crushed up like a pill and cement can’t go through all the cracks. All the chemicals end up polluting the rivers, which has been demonstrated in Rogersville. Economic development will be small in scale and many jobs will be outsourced from other countries. Alternative sources of revenue such as agriculture or tourism.

– Website Development: Build a website to direct the public through your pamphlets to your website. You can include videos, more information so that people can make an informed decision.

– Politicians: Reach out to local politicians that are sympathetic to your cause. Demand a referendum for fracking in your province. This can be apart of your education campaign against fracking.
Write to the jailed Mi’kmaq Warriors:

Coady Stevens / Aaron Francis / Germain (Junior) Beault / James Pictou

S.R.C.C
435 Lino Rd
Shediac, NB
E4P 0H6
Kanada

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