1st Newsletter from the IMW Peace & Friendship Legal Fund

GREETINGS FROM SIGNIGTOG MI’KMA’KI,
aka Kent County New Brunswick 

 elsi flag

THANK YOU, WELALIEK

The initial tour to start building a national network to support the IMW Peace & Friendship Legal Challenge was a great success. Many allies helped find space, publicize, and support the 4-city “Report from the Eastern Door” tour (Jan 5-9/15)​. Designed to share information about what has been happening down here ​with grassroots community environmental protectors, activists and defenders in central Canada, the tour was organized spontaneously in just a couple weeks.

Special Thanks, Chi Miigwetch, Nai’wen to organizational and network allies​ who helped so much: Toronto Friends Peace & Social Action Committee (The Quakers), ​Dan & Mary Lou Smoke of Smoke Signals Radio Show, First Peoples House of Learning at Trent University, Kawartha & Peterborough Chapter of the Council of Canadians, Kawartha Truth and Reconciliation Support Group, Nibi Emosaawdamajig: Those Who Walk for the Water, Council of Canadians National Office, KAIROS, Amnesty International Canadian Section, Chez Boris Cafe, and Montreal Allies Against Fracking.

Ottawa Presentation

The presentation dates (Jan 5 -9) coincided with a bitter cold spell in Ontario and Quebec, but still about 150 hardy people from many different activist backgrounds attended the talks. More than half of attendees signed our contact sheet to stay in touch with us. Other terrific outcomes included interest by alternative media (Toronto and Montreal) and local media (Peterborough), as well as free will donations of $792.  $687 went into the legal fund account, which is being managed pro bono by Council of Canadians for us. ​The remaining $105 collected went towards the costs of printing our new ​​IMW Fund promotional stickers.​​

If you are one of the people ​who came to the​se meetings without cash and are looking for ​info on h​ow to contribute to our Legal Fund, there are two ways:

  1. online through Pay Pal at Elsipogtog, N.B – Legal Action Fund
  2. by snail mail, send a cheque/money-order to “Council of Canadians” at 300-251 Bank St, Ottawa ON K2P 1X3 — but please remember it is *IMPORTANT* to  write “For the IMW Peace & Friendship Fund” on the back or note line of your cheque or money order, so your donation goes into our trust account

​The IMW Legal Fund coordinators, grandmothers Serena Francis and Ann Pohl, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Council of Canadians regarding this fund. This MOU specifies financial accountability and ​ensures that all monies held in trust for us ​by COC will be used ONLY for legal fund costs. ​All funds donated to the PayPal account are cleared into the COC trust fund account.  You can be confident that any donation you make will be used ​ONLY ​for this legal challenge.  ​If you have any questions about the fund, you can email Serena or Ann at imw.legalfund@gmail.com

ABOUT THE IMW PHILOSOPHY
​IMW stands for Iapjiw Maliaptasiktɨtiew Wskwitqamu.”  These Mi’kmaq words can be understood ​in English to mean ​”Protecting the Earth for Future ​Generations. 
kopit flag
Indigenous and non-Indigenous people are working together in this campaign. We are all Treaty People. We will all benefit from ensuring that those who care about the environment are in an “official” position to best protect our one air, one water, and one earth for ALL future generations.

The 4-City tour was organized by allies of the IMW Legal Challenge at Elsipogtog, which has a welcoming community centre called Kopit Lodge. Kopit means beaver in Mi’kmaq — beavers ​​♥ the water and want it protected! You can find Kopit Lodge on Facebook, and send a request to join the group. The Lodge is open to All Peoples as a safe space, a talking place, an organizing center, a guest home for activist allies, and a place to share food and enjoy peace and friendship.

EVERY STOP ON THE TOUR ATTRACTED DIFFERENT PARTICIPANTS & QUESTIONS

There were lots of questions about the ​recent events here, ​in which so many grassroots ​people put their bodies on the line to ​protect our natural environment and communities from deep shale fracking. Many positive messages were shared:
AT LAST THE “WINDS OF CHANGE: ARE BLOWING IN NB… 
​​The startling new unity of grassroots Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, Acadian and Anglophone NBers has completely shaken the power structure in this provincial colony​. New Brunswick region has been dominated and oppressed since first contact by natural resource barons​ who use their corporate tentacles, off-shore tax havens​, private security forces, and political handmaidens to maintain tight control. Up to now, the barons commonly use their economic power to determine who has work and who does not, and they also have a huge media monopoly.  ​(See: Irvings Stranglehold​ on​ New​ BrunswickDid You Hear About the Irvings?and Inside the Irving Media Monopoly.) 
Ed's poster
​We are not stopping now…​ ​As explained at each presentation, the pre-Confederation Peace & Friendship Treaties never surrendered territory or resources to the Crown. At least two New Brunswick First Nation communities ​are preparing to launch court challenge​s ​based on the Crown’s failure to (a) sustainably manage the region`s natural resources ​and (b) protect the environment for future generations.

This is urgent in order to protect the natural environment for ALL future generations. Fracking is not the only environmental disaster threatening NB: virtually as soon as our underground is disturbed there is radioactive waste to deal with due to extensive uranium deposits; there are mega-mines in the works; add on a devastating new forestry policy and the proposed pipeline; and, of course, we are all witnessing the reality of climate change roll in, so the time for massive investment in renewable energies (not fossil fuels) is NOW….

On the fracking front, there are already two court challenges with different but allied emphases underway: the NB Anti-Shale Gas Alliance “Science Case Against Fracking, and the “Frack Back Peoples Lawsuit“. One of the most remarkable strengths we have as a united grassroots movement is that sparse population and a do-it-yourself attitude has empowered us all to become leaders and take action when needed, Our networking (often by word-of-mouth) has made it possible to call others out to support on short notice. As long as the action proposed is truly non-violent, if someone builds it, support will come.
​.
SIGNIGTOG IS GETTING READY!
It is so important to emphasize this: the government starts out in a weak position under the law because the region’s resources and territory were NEVER surrendered in the Peace and Friendship Treaties! Repeat: nothing has been surrendered since first contact.
mi'mak'ki
Governments ​have a “duty to consult​,” and related duties to inform, accommodate, and obtain consent, but the courts have said that sitting down to talk (consult) is a “reciprocal duty.” As lawyer​s have told us, governments ​often like to argue in court that FNs ​have frustrated consultation (e.g. by refusing to meet, not responding to communications, etc.​) and courts sometimes listen to this argument sympathetically, so FNs can be vulnerable to these types of arguments if they don’t participate in consultation. In short, if you don`t play the game, you can`t win. Last week, ​Elsipogtog elder Kenneth Francis, a founding member of the IMW Legal Fund​, convened a “Town Hall” style meeting on this very​ controversial topic​. The meeting addressed seven main points:
  1. viewing what consultation should be like, how it should work
  2. review of our experiences and reports regarding past “consultations”
  3. acknowledging the conflicts of interest and lack of accountability by AFNNB Inc. chiefs (for more info on this, please ask)
  4. discussing our need to control this process
  5. suggestions on how to control this process
  6. proposal to elect delegates for this process
  7. planning to meet again in a week
Elsi community members who want to protect the environment ​have expressed concern about being dragged into a process they might not be able to control. Some fear this could make things worse as governments might then do what they want, saying the people had been “consulted.”
Imelda
Ken assured people that going into a consultation ​process ​does not mean ​you will ever agree to give up anything.  ​Consultative meetings can be just as readily used to explain why nothing will be given up — but, the key is to be prepared…  It was emphasized that the grassroots people can and must control this business of consultation, which means designating a team of trusted and capable people to speak on behalf of the community for each, every, and all consultations​. This team will be recognized by chief and council and the province as the legitimate delegates for consultation, and the team will maintain their strength and legitimacy with frequent reports back to the grassroots public in meetings such as this one held last week. This is how the Tsilhqo’tin people stayed confident in, and supportive of. lead plaintiff Roger William throughout the duration of that lengthy legal challenge that has won important precedents to benefit their community and others. Ken believes the same system of trust, representation and genuine accountability can work here in Signigtog.
whole signplaque on sign (text) smaller
LEGAL PROTECTION FOR CONSULTATION & COURT CHALLENGE  
The Elsi ​negotiation team ​will be in the strongest position imaginable going into consultations with representation from lawyer Bruce McIvor and his firm First People’s Law​.​ Here is what one First Nation community leader says about Bruce’s indigenous law practice:  ​​
First Peoples Law is committed to participating in the public discussion on Aboriginal title, rights and Treaty rights. Our community’s challenges are stubborn and complicated so we’ve got lots and lots of experience with all kinds of lawyers.  But, where others have made assumptions, Bruce listens.  Where others have seen complications, Bruce has seen potential solutions. Bruce’s knowledge and perspective are absolutely essential to the successes of our community-based strategy team — and he’s willing to get out on the land too.  – Chief Erwin Redsky, Shoal Lake #40 First Nation 
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CAN YOU REACH INTO YOUR POCKET? 
Bruce has given us a lot of pro bono support over the past many months. We are collecting pledges now, and expect to have the cash to formally retain him in the next few weeks. A start was made in this 4-City tour at raising the cost of Bruce’s next trip here (as soon after he is retained as possible). If you can possibly see clear to give us a boost right now for that important strategic meeting, please see the links above.  

If you or your group can sponsor an event 
to raise awareness and funds 
for the IMW legal challenge, 
we would love to hear about it and support it!
This blogspace is used for outgoing messages only, so if you want to comment or need more info and to make contact for some other reason, here are our coordinates: imw.legalfund@gmail.com249 Main St., Elsipogtog NB E4W-2X2,
506-785-2998 
No`kmaq — We are all related.
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