N.B. anti-shale protest turns fiery

The big news: Aboriginal protesters refuse to give up traditional land


Andrew Vaughan/CP

“We have been asking for consultations for three years now and nothing has happened. Instead they just put our people in jail.” —Susan Levi-Peters, former chief of the Elsipogtog First Nation

James Anaya had barely left Canada, and five torched cruisers sat on a highway in rural New Brunswick. Had the UN rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples found his way to yesterday’s scene in Rexton, N.B.,  he would have borne witness to the terrible complexity of resource development anywhere near aboriginal land.

SWN resources, an oil and gas exploration company, is conducting seismic testing near the Elsipogtog First Nation. Protesters are afraid the company will establish fracking operations, the controversial extraction method that pulls shale gas out of the ground. Those protesters moved to build barricades that blocked SWN from its own equipment, and also nearby Route 134. SWN, which claimed to be losing $60,000 a day during the blockade, received an injunction to remove the protesters. That’s what the police tried to accomplish yesterday. And then 40 people were arrested and the RCMP lost five vehicles.

Anaya, who concluded a visit to Canada earlier this week, spoke to the perils of developing natural resources on aboriginal land in an interim report. “Resource development often proceeds at a rapid pace within lands that are the subject of protracted negotiations between aboriginal peoples and the Government, undermining the very purpose of the negotiations,” he wrote. “As a general rule, resource extraction should not occur on lands subject to aboriginal claims without adequate consultations with and the free, prior and informed consent of the aboriginal peoples concerned.”

That’s a fine general rule, worthy of discussion. But yesterday wasn’t so cut and dry. The Mi’kmaq are drawing a distinction between reserve land, where they have more power to negotiate, and traditional land about which they’re concerned. The Globe and Mail explains: “Although the compound is not on reserve land, it is on territory that the Mi’kmaq consider to be their traditional hunting ground, and they fear that SWN’s tests will lead to a fracking operation that will cause irreparable environmental damage to their community and the surrounding area.”

Further, Chief Arren James Sock of the Elsipogtog First Nation, who was among the arrested, said his people reserve the right to reclaim the land. The Supreme Court of Canada has affirmed that the Mi’kmaq “continue to have treaty rights to hunt, fish and gather towards earning a moderate livelihood” on their traditional land.* Sock says the Crown has used the land irresponsibly. “For centuries, the British Crown claimed to be holding the land in trust for his people,” CBC News explains. “But since the land is being badly mismanaged, First Nations people are taking it back.”

These arguments about traditional land, and centuries-old agreements, all came to the fore during Idle No More protests earlier this year. Successful as that movement was at raising awareness for a few solid months, no national consensus emerged about anything related to land claims. There wasn’t a sense that protesters were universally right, and governments universally wrong. Land claims are complicated exercises. Traditional hunting grounds are tricky to reconcile with parts of the country where non-aboriginal people and companies are living and doing business.

That disconnect is real and not going anywhere. Yet more clashes will occur, of that there is no doubt, and no practical resolution will avail itself to all involved. This conflict will stubbornly endure.


What’s above the fold

The Globe and Mail An aboriginal protest in New Brunswick turned violent.
National Post Five RCMP cruisers were torched during the protest.
Toronto Star Ontario will seek compensation for industries harmed by free trade.
Ottawa Citizen The Senate could suspend Pamela Wallin, Mike Duffy and Patrick Brazeau.
CBC News Stephen Harper will announce a free-trade deal with Europe.
CTV News The free-trade negotiations lasted four years.
National Newswatch Canada’s dairy industry is not happy with the free-trade deal.

What you might have missed

THE NATIONAL Mackenzie gas. Imperial Oil, which has long planned to develop a pipeline through the Mackenzie River valley to transport natural gas from Canada’s northern reaches to thirsty southern locales, might relaunch the project as a liquefied natural gas venture—and the company is thinking about building a liquefaction plant somewhere on the B.C. coast.
THE GLOBAL Iraq. Nine car bombings rocked Baghdad, part of a violent day that saw 61 people die in mostly Shiite communities. An attack in al-Mouafaqiyah, near the northern city of Mosul, killed 15 and injured 52. A later bombing in Tuz Khormato killed three and injured another 28. The series of Baghdad bombings killed at least 32, including two children, and injured 73 people.
THE QUIRKY Windsor bush. “Cocky vandals” in Windsor, Ont., “aroused the attention” of local authorities when they groomed a city bush into the shape of a giant penis. John Miceli, the city’s executive director of parks and facilities, told the Windsor Star these were no ordinary vandals. “Whoever did the shaping was pretty proficient at shaping bushes,” he said.

*CORRECTION: This post originally stated the Mi’kmaq forfeited their traditional land to the Crown. We regret the error.


N.B. anti-shale protest turns fiery

  1. For years Canada has been told to straighten things out with FNs, but we told them nooooo

    Now of course we need their cooperation for oil and gas…..and we’re shocked THEY’RE saying no. Tsk.

    • Co-operation is a two way street, dumb ass. Any native who wants to oppose lawful commercial activity is more than welcome to eschew the trappings of modern civilization and decamp to the wilderness and party like it’s 1545.
      All I have seen from the native community is a bizarre combination of extortionary demands coupled with intransigent obstructionism towards the very commerce that provides the tax dollars that they so heavily rely on.
      That door don’t swing both ways.

      • Hey….dumb ass…we signed the treaties. Honour them.

        THAT’S how you get cooperation.

        • It’s not just the lack of honoring treaties that’s the problem, it’s also the attempted ethnic cleansing that’s the concern.

          • Yes, I’d say that when the UN turns up to investigate….we have a serious problem. And we need to stop it….now.

          • Even if the UN doesn’t show up. I don’t think First Nations cares for, or needs their approval. At best it’s just a plus.

          • It makes a huge difference….it’s known all over the world now.

          • I didn’t say it wouldn’t make a difference. Only that First Nations are going to move ahead with their plans, with, or without the UN’s support. And that First Nations don’t need any foreign permission to stand up to centuries of oppression, by foreigners, IMO.

            It’s not like the UN has a good track record of going after commonwealth countries, over First Nation rights.

            It would be nice for First Nations to have allies, but it would not be wise to expect, or rely on support of others. The more First Nations do for themselves, the better for them.

          • Pride is nice….PR is better. Don’t trip over either.

          • It’s not about pride, but proving all the bigots wrong about First Nations. Part of what First Nations is fighting against is the bigotry. One of the most common stereotypes is that First Nations are lazy and useless. Proving otherwise, would go a long way.

          • No one ever gave up power voluntarily. No matter what the facts.

          • You’re confusing things here. The issue with he ‘first nations’ is that they all too often badly serve the indians living on them.

            And if the indians themselves went forth in greater numbers to become educated and employed, people would not view them as lazy.

            Many many indians have indeed broken free from the culture of dependency nurtured on too many ‘first nations’, and are employed, productive, self-sufficient, and prosperous. The challenge lies in getting more indians to follow that sterling example.

            BTW, ‘indian’ is indeed the officially endorsed term taken from the eponymous Indian Act.

          • You’re the confused one. First Nations are the the “indians”. BTW, we’re not indians, we’re not from India. But don’t let me stop you from being ignorant and continue Christopher Columbus’ mistake.

            What you call dependency, we call attempted genocide.

          • ‘first nations’ are nations, bands, reserves, or whatever, but not people.

            It’s be like some Scotsman calling himself a clan.

            Using the same neologism for entirely different concepts merely leads to confusion.

            And the dependency extends to dependency on the reserve, the leadership (chief council, etc) of the respective ‘first nation’, where housing and employment are very often wholly controlled by the band.

          • When has a member of First Nations refereed to themselves as a clan?

          • So they blockade a company who has been legally allowed to do business on land adjacent to their land to perhaps provide job opportunities for their members who are supported by about 85% with welfare thus furthering the impression they are “lazy and useless” The irony has escaped you!

          • You know, in the area, it’s not just First Nations that don’t want the fracking.

        • If you were to familiarize yourself with the treaties, you would note that there is a requirement that the natives covered by the treaties honor and obey the “Queen’s laws” if they are to be bestowed with the “Queen’s benevolence”, and that the Queen’s benevolence is limited to what the Queen deems fit.
          In every circumstance- every single one- where the Indians are claiming to be the victims of a broken treaty, they have read into the treaties what’s most assuredly not there.
          There isn’t a native in this country who is a victim of anything unless they choose victimhood.
          I can personally lead you to people in my own city who came here penniless and family-less and have achieved great success. When a penniless Jew can come to Calgary in 1947 and 50 years later finds himself hiring Indians to look after his horses (owning horses is God’s way of saying ou have too much money), it would appear to me that there are no impediments to success. You can repeat that story ad nauseum by changing Jew to Chinese or Vietnamese but the basics are still there.
          Indians have the advantage of kowing the language and the climate, but those who cling to the reserves are simply condemning their children’s children to never enjoying the kind of societal success that other visible minorities with far fewer support mechanisms achive every single day.
          Indians have to quit being in love with the myth that they can somehow turn the clock back to 1803 or 1621 or 1455 and the trees will be taller and the grass will be greener and the rivers will run clear. Ain’t gonna happen.
          We have a good society. A just society. We are quite literally the pinnacle of civilization. In 1867 our mother country was the greatest the earth had ever seen, and the bastion of liberty. At the same time, most Canadian Indians were tribal, warring societies that engaged in slavery and even cannibalism.
          If they want to go back, fine. But I don’t think you can make the case that livng like a pre-Columbian North American native is really a great choice.
          If they don’t want to go back to partying like it’s 1545, then join the party. Quit continually biting the hand that feeds and become art of what is 21st century Canada.

          • Bill you can dance around the mulberry bush on this all you want…..tell stories to the grandchildren by the score….give any ole version of history you make up…..but the bottom line to it all is that we have to honour our legal committments.

            And in the meantime, kindly stop the hokum about us being any ‘pinnacle of civilization’.

            We have yet to begin one.

      • Yep, it’s always good to start off your conversation with an insult.

      • Its there land “dumb ass”

        • Do you think your comment might have more impact if you got the grammar and spelling correctly, as in “It’s their land, dumb ass .”?

          • No

          • or I mean know

          • The real point was the dumb ass part….

      • How much did you get paid to post that comment….

    • Um, it’s not their land. They admit so themselves. You can’t sign a treaty handing over land then renege on it over a century later because some people don’t like what’s being done there. That’s pure insanity.

      These terrorists clearly have no respect for the law, so each and every one of them should be locked up.

      And nobody needs their cooperation for oil and gas projects that aren’t on reserve land. We live in a bloody democracy, and FN’s don’t get a veto.

      • I suppose you know more about First Nation culture and customs than they do?

        • No. he just watches Ezra Levant.

          • Too true.

      • Oh give it a rest Ricky….you know this isn’t going to work, so get back to the table.

  2. Canada wants the same treatment that Aboroginal have receive from Canada. What is the problem? I don’t understand why people don’t understand that concept.

    • Neither the ‘first nations’ nor the indians who live on them can possibly afford all the largesse that Canadian governments bestow upon them.

  3. It’s good that the “Idle No More” movement is finally being exposed for what it is: a bunch of thugs who think they can bully people, and will resort to extreme violence when their bully tactics don’t work.

    I hope the RCMP in N.B. arrest and charge each and everyone of these terrorists. No civilized society can exist when certain groups of people are allowed to openly break the law.

    • Yes, let’s hope that applies to corporate criminals and privileged senators.

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