Canada

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

COLOMBIA ANALYSIS: Other nations deserve to live strong and free as well

 On 1 July Canadians celebrate the 1967 creation of an independent nation.   Their national anthem refers to, “The True North strong and free.”  The United Nations often names Canada is as one of the best countries in the world to live in because of its public healthcare, public education, good infrastructure, friendly and welcoming people—everything a healthy society needs to develop and flourish.  If only Colombians could enjoy the same thing.


San Pedro Frio

From 27-29 June 2013 San Pedro Frio, a mining town in the hilly southern region of the province of Bolivar hosted approximately three hundred people from local communities and fifty people from the provinces of Nariño, Cauca, Chocó, Huila and Antioquia for the second preparatory hearing of the “Ethical and Political Trial against Dispossession.” They gathered to share and document their stories about how multinational mining company AngloGold Ashanti has committed or supported grave human rights violations to acquire mining rights in these different territories. The community of Bolivar talked about the Exodo Campesino (Farmers Exodus) of 1998 where a mass mobilization of farming and mining communities from the south of Bolivar rose up, demanding their rights of access to healthcare, education, potable water, roads and the right to work the land or mines without the threat from right wing paramilitary groups. This mobilization led to agreements signed with then President Andres Pastrana.  Unfortunately instead of fulfilling the agreements, the army and paramilitary groups began a harsh campaign of repression against the communities and the now identified leaders who had negotiated the agreements.

ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: Warrior Chief John Levi released from custody


John Levi

Chief John Levi (photo by Greg Cook SJ)

Warrior Chief John Levi is free on his own recognizance.  After a hearing held on the Crown’s request to have him remain incarcerated, the presiding Judge ordered his immediate release with the stipulation that he remain 100 meters away from SWN corporation equipment or any of its subcontractors’ machinery and equipment. 

Many native and non-native people packed the courtroom to show their support; court officials permitted people to stand in the back as the seats filled up.  When Levi's case was called, and as he entered the courtroom, people stood in unison.  His supporters had also done so on Friday, 5 July, at the initial hearing.  A different judge heard the matter today, and he ordered spectators to remain seated, saying he would clear the courtroom if they did not follow proper court decorum.

ALERTA DE ACCIÓN DE JUSTICIA INDÍGENA: Apoyen l@s ayunadores de la Reserva Indígena de Elsipogtog.


ALERTA DE ACCIÓN DE JUSTICIA INDÍGENA: Apoyen l@s ayunadores de la Reserva Indígena de Elsipogtog.

Miembros de la Reserva Indígena de Elsipogtog iniciaron un ayuno, incluyendo agua, que durará hasta el 9 de julio de 2013. El ayuno tiene como objetivo pedir protección y perdón a la Madre Tierra por el daño que las pruebas sísmicas que adelanta la Corporación SWN para la exploración de gas de esquisto le hayan causado al agua y la tierra.  

L@s ayunadores le están pidiendo a l@s miembros de ECAP y otr@s simpatizantes que ayunen con ell@s, o que cuando consuman comidas y bebidas oren para fortalecer a l@s que están ayunando. La semana pasada la Policía canadiense arrestó al Jefe John Levi, uno de los líderes del movimiento contra la exploración de gas de esquisto en Elsipogtog, y a Miles Howe, un periodista que se encontraba informando sobre la protesta.

ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: Elsipogtog First Nation members begin fasting ceremonies for forgiveness and protection to last until 9 July 2013

 

At Milliea’s request, CPT Aboriginal Justice Team members Chris Sabas and Robin Buyers began an accompaniment of the fasting ceremonies deep in the New Brunswick bush on Saturday, July 6th. “The women are fasting for forgiveness for the damage caused to the Mother—the land and the water—by the [test] explosions,” said Milliea. “The men are fasting for protection.”

Participants are committed to going without food and water for twenty-four hours or more in spite of up to forty-degree (104-degree Fahrenheit) heat and high humidity. “Water is life,” explained Milliea. “When a person commits to giving up water, they give up their life.” A sip of water, which will conclude the fast, marks the return to life.

Water is at the centre of community resistance to the presence of SWN in Kent County. While concern has been growing about water contamination by shale gas exploration and development for several years, the start of seismic testing by SWN, and the damage to the land that has resulted, has escalated tensions. Police presence in the region is highly visible.

At the same time, the Elsipogtog Mi’kmaq First Nation and their neighbours are building deeper alliances. While the fasting ceremonies took place in the bush, the Sacred Fire site hosted several hundred members of more than twenty faith and environmental groups for a 6 July rally and potluck.

Fasts will continue until 9 July 2013.  The Elsipogtog community asks CPTers and other allies to support the fast by choosing either to fast themselves, or to serve as helpers, prayerfully eating and drinking with the intention of strengthening those fasting by taking in nourishment on their behalf.

ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: Elsipogtog Warrior Chief John Levi remanded to custody

Elsipogtog Warrior Chief John Levi was remanded to custody this morning on allegations of breach of probation, due to recent, suspicious criminal charges filed against him.

Levi had invited CPT’s Aboriginal Justice Team to accompany local efforts to stop shale gas exploration on Elsipogtog traditional lands.  A team has been present since Sunday 28 June, with more CPTers scheduled to arrive Saturday.

 DSCN1902
 Demonstrators at site of Howe's arrest

According to trusted sources within the community, the underlying probation stems from a conviction of fishing without a license on the Elsipogtog Reserve, Levi’s home territory, in 2011.  He is now facing two additional criminal charges, Mischief and Obstruction, due to allegations stemming from actions on 21 June, Aboriginal Day.

 On that day, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) arrested  twelve people who were protesting seismic testing in preparation for shale gas exploration on Elsipogtog traditional lands in Kent County, New Brunswick.  Officers neither arrested nor issued a citation to Levi on that day.  Instead, his probation officer summoned him Thursday 4 July, informing him that the RCMP had filed a breach of probation petition against him and that he must appear in court on Friday, 5 July 2013.  The RCMP officer who filed the criminal charges against Levi is the same officer who arrested and confiscated the phone and camera of Media Co-op Journalist Miles Howe on 4 July, and charged him with “uttering threats” and obstructing justice.