30 July 2013
ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: Elsipogtog
resistance to shale gas exploration intensifies
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
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
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.
The cemetery sat
directly across the street from a vacant lot where at one time a Catholic
parish stood. The Royal Canadian
Mounted Police (RCMP) did not permit protectors to park on the lot, claiming it
was private property. Elsipogtog
community members provided them with documentation showing that caretakers of
the cemetery and family members of people buried there had given them
permission. See video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TuyCwYsSKgE
subsequently shifted on July 23 to another portion along ‘Line 5’ with
protectors making a stand along Meadow Brook road. Several protectors were able to bypass RCMP and private
security lines and positioned themselves along the testing line, in the bush,
with a female protector reportedly chaining herself to a tree. They remained
there overnight. Video of the beginning of the Meadowbrook stand is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K5LRkGVPoOA.
The very next day, at
approximately 10:00 a.m., SWN workers were observed removing equipment. While not known whether they conducted testing,
scouts determined that SWN was re-focusing efforts along another portion of
‘Line 5:’ Bronson’s road.
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 https://youtu.be/07OxXf3-jDQ.
eventually responded and cleared the work site. CPTers Vriesinga and
Sabas were able to stay. You can watch the poignant ending of
the hour work stoppage at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQmWYnm-QQk
Attention remained on
Bronson’s road. On 27 July at approximately 3:00 p.m., protectors
seized a SWN truck. ‘Pocahontas’
latter chained herself to the top of the truck. Protectors had initially negotiated with RMCP for a three-hour
work stoppage to engage in ceremony to honor the Ghost Dance, a part of the Sun
Dance ceremony, occurring in Elsipogtog.
Elsipogtog had previously requested SWN to cease testing during the week
long ceremony but SWN refused. The
stand-off ended peacefully at approximately 3:00
a.m. CPTers Vriesinga and Sabas participated in relief efforts, attempting to
bring in food and water, but RCMP denied them entry.