13 October 2013
ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: Elsipogtog: Patience
is a virtue
Entering 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.
After initially proclaiming he would not meet with
“law breakers,” Premier David Alward met with Elsipogtog Chief Arren Sock and
other representatives from Elsipogtog and the Acadian and Anglophone
communities on Sunday, 6 October. Discussions continue. Chief Sock and Premier
Alward met at least one other time, and reportedly, a working group will be
While details about the working group have not been
forthcoming, CPT urges patience.
Elsipogtog community partners maintain that their message hasn’t
changed: No Shale Gas. CPT also acknowledges and appreciates the complexities
between the Indian
band government and traditional forms of indigenous governance. CPT offers
prayers and support for Chief Sock
as he represents his community during this challenging time.
Sabas and Peters assert that the licenses and
permits granted to SWN are not lawful. Unlike other treatied areas in Canada,
the Peace and Friendship treaties that address this area did not include land surrender of any kind. Thus, the Province of
New Brunswick does not have the authority to grant permits for any type of
resource extraction before receiving free, prior, and informed consent from
impacted First Nations communities.
CPT reminds the Province of New Brunswick that
consultation alone is no longer sufficient in light of the United
Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
(“UNDRIP”), of which Canada is a signatory. UNDRIP sets out minimum standards
for the “survival, dignity and well-being” of Indigenous peoples around the
world, and requires free, prior, and informed consent. The standard has been
adopted by the International Financial Corporation—the arm of the World Bank
responsible for private sector investment—and endorsed by leading sectors of
The team also echoes local First Nation voices in encouraging
the inclusion of Acadian and Anglophone community representatives, in light of
their ongoing participation in the campaign in continuing efforts of unity. Members of each community remain at the blockade