BC Lawyer Retained by IMW/Kopit Lodge at Elsipogtog to Protect Sikniktuk, Mi’kma’ki


For Immediate Release
August 10, 2015

British Columbia Lawyer Retained by
IMW Legal Fund to Protect Mi’kmaq Aboriginal, Title and Treaty Rights
in the Sikniktuk District of Mi’kma’ki

“We are fighting for only one thing. As the most powerful Mi’kmaq community in Sikniktuk District, we have responsibility to protect our region’s water and try to ensure a healthy planet for future generations,” says Elsipogtog Elder Kenneth Francis, Speaker for the IMW Consultation Delegation. IMW stands for Iapjiw Maliaptasiktɨtiew Wskwitqamu (Protecting the Earth for Future Generations).

A March 26, 2015 Elsipogtog First Nation Band Council Resolution mandated the IMW Consultation Delegation to represent Elsipogtog community regarding resource extraction development and related matters. IMW is headquartered at Kopit Lodge, a community centre in Elsipogtog that is funded and managed by community volunteers. All members of the IMW Consultation Delegation are volunteers, and have no conflict or pecuniary interest in any resource extraction or related matters.

“The courts have made it a condition that governments must go through a consultation with Aboriginal Peoples. We need to be involved in this process, but we need to control it to make sure it is a valid, transparent, accountable, and fair process,” says Kenneth Francis. “Now we are proud to announce we have gathered the funds from grassroots contributions to retain a lawyer to assist us.”

Dr. Bruce McIvor, of First People’s Law based in Vancouver and Toronto, has held initial strategic discussions with Elsipogtog’s Chief and Council and the IMW delegation, as well as meeting volunteers from Elsipogtog and surrounding Acadian and Anglophone communities.



One item already addressed was to clarify that Dr. McIvor will be representing Elsipogtog as an Intervenor before the National Energy Board, regarding the Energy East pipeline proposal. As well, last month a letter outlining six priority consultation matters was sent to the Hon. Ed Doherty, New Brunswick’s Aboriginal Affairs Minister. Mr. Francis is still awaiting the materials requested in this correspondence.

On August 29th at 7 pm, the IMW Legal Fund will get a boost from the Kent County Friendship Committee’s fundraising event. This will take place at the Saint Charles Community Center. “Our non-Aboriginal allies have the same serious concerns as we do, and the support we are getting from them convinces me that this is the time to take action,” says Mr. Francis.

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IMW Video: A Call Out – IMW Consultation Delegation – Iapjiw Maliaptasiktɨtiew Wskwitqamu

See also: https://www.facebook.com/pages/IMW-Legal-Action-Fundraiser/1584024201848166?fref=ts


1st Newsletter from the IMW Peace & Friendship Legal Fund

aka Kent County New Brunswick 

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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

​IMW stands for Iapjiw Maliaptasiktɨtiew Wskwitqamu.”  These Mi’kmaq words can be understood ​in English to mean ​”Protecting the Earth for Future ​Generations. 
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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.


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:
​​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.
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.
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.”
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.
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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 
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,
No`kmaq — We are all related.

Resistance & Survival: Report from the Eastern Door

where environmental protection &
honouring indigenous rights intersect

Now you can get a first-hand account from the east coast’s #anti-fracking, #rexton, #elsipogtog 2013 hot spots. It ain’t over yet and no one is giving up. Start off the New Year attending one of these upcoming meetings — additional dates can be added…

Monday, JANUARY 5, 2015,  7 – 9 pm

Friends Meeting House, 60 Lowther Avenue
Sponsor: Toronto Friends Peace & Social Action Committee

Wednesday, January 7, 2015, 7 PM start
Gathering Space, FPHL Room 103, Gzowski College, Trent University
First Peoples House of Learning at Trent, Kawartha & Peterborough Chapter of the Council of Canadians, Kawartha Truth and Reconciliation Support Group, and Nibi Emosaawdamajig: Those Who Walk for the Water

Thursday, JANUARY 8, 2015,  7 – 10 pm
25One Community Space, 251 Bank Street
Sponsor: Council of Canadians

Friday, JANUARY 9, 2015, 7 PM start
Chez Boris Cafe, 5151 Parc Ave
Sponsor: Friends of NB Anti-Fracking Movement
   and Allies of Elsipogtog Mi’kmaq First Nation 

Free will donations gratefully accepted.
For info or to set up an additional meeting: imw.legalfund@gmail.com 

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All of Maritime Canada is covered by the pre-Confederation “Peace and Friendship” Treaties, in which no territory was surrendered. Recently, the peaceful determination of All Peoples to protect their communities and livelihoods from getting “FRACKED” united with local Idle No More activists who are reclaiming their original territories for sacred caretaking.

This historic unity grew to outstanding proportions in 2013. elsipogtog-ossie-michelin-protest-photoThe world watched as New Brunswick’s and Canada’s officialdom moved to crush it. For a recap of our history-making grassroots movement, see this Backgrounder for the IMW Peace & Friendship Legal Fund

These Reports from the Eastern Door will be done by popular educator and human rights activist Ann Pohl, who is known to Ontarians from the Ipperwash Coalition, Turtle Island Support Group, Coalition for the Advancement of Aboriginal Studies, etc. She has been living in Kent County NB for the past 10 years, a stop frackingrural region where most people rely on the natural environment for subsistence. Kent County is at the heart of the Sixth District of Mi’kmaki, Signigtog. All of Signigtog is ground zero for the fracking industry and their cronies in government and industry. SIgnigtog is also home territory for NB’s largest Mi’kmaq First Nation: Elsipogtog.

photo of meA grandmother, Ann is a founding member of Upriver Environment Watch. Last October, she was named in a SLAPP suit by the fracking corporation, SWN Resources Canada.
She is currently working with local Mi’kmaq elders to bring a legal challenge to court, to protect the natural environment for the sake of all future generations. Fundraising is just getting underway for the IMW Peace & Friendship Legal Fund. IMW stands for Iapjiw Maliaptasiktɨtiew Wskwitqamu.”  These Mi’kmaq words can be understood to mean Protecting the Earth for Future Generations.

Ann brings her peaceful and committed frontline perspective to this presentation, as well as her decades of experience in solidarity movements. There will be time for questions, and for comments on how these historic happenings connect to broader non-violent environmental protection movements. We will also discuss the strategic actions, networking and other support needed by frontline rural activists, especially the Peoples of the Eastern Door.elsi flag

The IMW Request Letter provides more info on one of Ann’s current solidarity projects. For information about Ann’s recent environmental protection work and Upriver Environment Watch,  take a look at other blogs on this space, or email upriverwatch@gmail.com.

Backgrounder for IMW Peace & Friendship Legal Fund

Backgrounder for IMW Peace & Friendship Legal Fund:
Iapjiw Maliaptasiktɨtiew Wskwitqamu
Protecting the Earth for Future Generations

PLEASE NOTE: This “Backgrounder” was written in July 2014.

…In September 2014, the Alward Conservative government of NB was replaced by the Gallant Liberal government, who PROMISED to bring in a moratorium on deep shale fracking. …Industry slowed to a crawl. …We all waited with bated breath. …On Dec 18, 2014, the new Premier of NB did that rarest of rare things — KEPT A REALLY DIFFICULT PROMISE!

Please see Shale gas moratorium details unveiled by Premier Brian Gallant.
There has been a huge amount of personal sacrifice, and there is still a WHOLE lot of work to do, but at least we have won a few major battles… The text below begins to explain how we got to this exciting point, and how we intend to ensure we continue winning the “war” to protect our environment for future generations.

One air, one water, one earth. No’kmaq — we are all related.
learning what living in Peace & Friendship truly means in this crucial century. 

November 5, 2013 in Fredericton One of MANY protests at the provincial legislature.

The Government of New Brunswick (GNB) ignored more than three years of unprecedented unity of grassroots  Nov 11
opposition to development of the deep shale oil and gas industry. This opposition has included petitions, rallies, lobbying, information sessions, letters, erecting a Tepee on the grounds of the legislature, and much more. GNB has leased roughly one-quarter of the province to shale gas and oil companies, much of this in the more populated parts of NB.

Serious Health and Environmental Impacts

 In our view, shale gas mining cannot be done safely at the present time, and therefore should not be undertaken.

In other jurisdictions where “unconventional fracking” for deep shale fuel is extensive (like GNB plans) there have been many serious environmental and health impacts. In her peer-reviewed and acclaimed October 2012 report, Recommendations Concerning Shale Gas Development in New Brunswick, New Brunswick’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eilish Cleary discusses these issues from a public health perspective.

A uniting concern is increasing evidence of the impacts of climate change due to release of gasses from fossil fuels during the shale gas mining process, as this report from the

The Government of New Brunswick has “stacked the deck” in favour of shale gas development.

To implement it uncritical support for this industry, GNB has ensured that meaningful public health and environmental protections is not possible. To start with, ass soon as the corporation has completed the leased exploration agreement, they can apply for a permit to do “exploratory” drilling. This includes building all infrastructure for production.

The “deck” is even more thoroughly stacked! GNB’s Environmental Impact Assessment process is being done in an unlegislated “phased” and intentionally rapid and minimalist manner, as described in this PowerPoint produced by GNB staff to introduce the “Phased Review” approach to “stakeholders”: Phased EIA – Oil & Gas – Stakeholder Meeting Jan 27 2011 (1) Following this procedure, it seems corporations escape any serious review until full commercial production is imminent.

GNB claims to have world-class policies to prevent the issues that this industry has spawned in other regions, but in fact GNB has only guidelines for industry (not legislated regulations) and no meaningful enforcement capacity.  Last year GNB allowed the corporation all variances they wanted, eg. to “explore” on wetlands and outside lease areas. As things stand, the industry will not even be required to pay any meaningful royalties on the resource.

“Idle No More” joins hand on “No Frack NB” issue

INM for IMWIn the winter of 2012-2013 the Idle No More movement birthed across Canada and in First Nation communities. The Elsipogtog community became energized in concern that fracking would lead to critical level plant destruction, water poisoning, and endangerment of all life.

Anglo and Acadian New Brunswickers, Mi’kmaq and Maliseet Peoples, and many other diverse allies protected the environment from June-December 2013. During this time, Southwestern Energy (SWN Resources Canada) continued its shale gas exploration program with support from the provincial police force (RCMP), government of New Brunswick, private security forces, and the dominant NB industrial corporation (Irving) which also owns almost all media in the province.prayer sunrise

two linesjune protest   firekeeper arrrestbleeding mouth        116 crewemile on 126 childpoca pic   signs pic for IMW 2013 unity gathering

Government Fails to Uphold “Honour of the Crown” regarding the Mi’kmaq People of Elsopogtog

After failing at their treaty and constitutional responsibilities, provincial and federal governments sponsored a major show of force on October 17, 2013.  Many hundreds of innocent and peaceful people were hurt, criminalized, and traumatized for defending their homeland.

drummers n copsElsipogtog Chief and Councillorsivan getting pepper-sprayed

The Texas-based Southwestern Energy’s wholly owned Canadian subsidiary SWN Resources Canada completed its preliminary exploration in December 2013, in the face of continuing opposition.  At the present time, GNB is poised to approve four applications from SWN Resources Canada to build infrastructure wellpads and do initial drilling.

RCMP guarding ThumperMikmaq-protest-Nov-14-e1384456554762elsipogtog-winter

Working together with traditional Mi’kmaq Nation leadership, Elsipogtog Chief and Band Council took steps to try to prevent the disaster of fracking in their territory. These steps included:

  • Questioning the validity of the consultation process for which the Government of New Brunswick is constitutionally bound;
  • Sending letters of eviction to SWN Resources and all sub-contractors, signed by both traditional and elected leadership;
  • Making known that this land has not been ceded or surrendered to any other authority or government;
  • Passing a Band Council Resolution (BCR) to notify the Province, other agencies, and corporations that they are trespassing on such lands;
  • Direct reclaiming of the land, which was never ceded in the “Peace & Friendship” Treaties.

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Safekeeping of the Water: Kopit Lodge is Born

Outside of Mi’kma’ki, nowhere else on Planet Earth is Mi’kmaq language spoken, traditions upheld, ceremonies practiced, or heritage entrenched. It is the recognized right of the Mi’kmaq People of Elsipogtog to protect their water, their land, their communities, their way of life, and their culture. As their traditional responsibility since time immemorial, the Mi’kmaq People are tasked with protection of these forests, waters, animals, and of course their Nation as a whole, against any and all maltreatment, abuse, potential destruction, and malfeasance.

In Spring 2014, committed allies from Elsipogtog and nearby NB communities created a gathering place called Kopit Lodge (Kopit means Beaver), which is fully endorsed in this mission by elected and traditional leadership in Elsipogtog First Nation. Here is Kopit’s mission:

kopit flagSafe Keeping of the Water:
We are people of the earth united
to protect the waters. 
Our objective is to protect our children’s inheritance through coordination and persistence. Our group is committed to nonviolent resistance. Kopit Lodge is committed to work with All Peoples and groups who share this vision.

 Announcing the Launch of the IMW Peace & Friendship Legal Fund

Idle No More brought fresh energy to the Indigenous rights movement. On June 26 2014, the SCC’s Tsilhqot’in  decision breathed new hope into unceded Mi’kmaq territory. On the following day, Bruce McIvor of First People’s Law posted this comment on the SCC’s Tsilhqot’in decision In his online advocacy blog,:

Canadians awoke this morning to the post-denial period of Indigenous rights…  The dots-on-a-map theory of Aboriginal title is dead… Aboriginal title can include territorial claims and… the implications are profound…

“Duty to consult has new life… Government and industry will have to step up and acknowledge the new reality… In permitting provincial laws to apply to Aboriginal title lands the Court made new law and saddled the provinces with hefty legal obligations. …When Indigenous people succeed in confirming their Aboriginal title a province will not simply be able to apply their laws through box-ticking consultation. They will be subject to the much more onerous burden of obtaining consent or justifying infringements…

“For Indigenous people with pre-Confederation treaties (e.g. the peace-and-friendship treaties in the Maritimes) the implications are obvious. Their claims to Aboriginal title can now be pursued with renewed confidence…”

As Bruce has said, “The jig is up!” Other legal experts agree:

  • “Aboriginal title applies to territories, not ‘postage stamp’ sized sites of intensive occupation.” (Andrea Bradley and Senwung Luk of Olthius, Kleer, Townshend, see http://www.oktlaw.com/blog/in-a-first-for-a-canadian-court-scc-recognizes-aboriginal-title-for-tsilhqotin-nation/)
  • Aboriginal title is “territorial… It goes from mountaintop to mountaintop in some places; it covers valleys and vast tracts of land.” (David Rosenberg of Woodward & Company, quoted by Dene Moore, http://metronews.ca/news/canada/1078984/top-court-grants-land-title-to-first-nation/)
  • “Any development on Aboriginal title lands would be subject to the consent of the Aboriginal title holder. Absent such consent… the Crown must establish that the infringing use serves a compelling and substantial public interest and is consistent with the Crown’s fiduciary duty to the Aboriginal title holder… Any proposed development must not “deprive future Aboriginal generations of the control and benefit of the lands.” Therefore “exhaustion of particular resources and the footprint of proposed developments will be given significant scrutiny… Resource development in areas where Aboriginal title remains an issue” (like New Brunswick) “will require enhanced Aboriginal engagement, clear public benefit and protection of future Aboriginal use”.” (Alexandria J. Pike and Sarah V. Powell of Davies, Ward  Phillips & Vineberg, see http://www.mondaq.com/canada/x/324292/
  • “…You simply have to stop the project and get their consent. That changes everything. ‘Consultation,’ and having to get ‘consent,’ are markedly different… The Maritimes are all unceded territory. The Mikmaq, Maliseet and Passamaquoddy didn’t give up a single inch of territory. Talking about shale gas, this is a huge victory for Elsipogtog!! Shale gas and New Brunswick are going to have to come to the table on very different terms, completely rethink how they do work with First Nations… This is good for Canadians too, an epic win for NBers. It actually protects their future too because at the end of the day, farmable land and clean water is what we all need to survive as humans. There are all kinds of jobs that can be had, they don’t all have to be in an extractive industry, they can be in environmental, sustainable industries. That’s where the international community is heading and there’s tons of jobs in those areas.” (Pam Palmater interview on CBC radio, http://www.cbc.ca/informationmorningmoncton/2014/06/30/game-changer/)

We are all Treaty People!

The Government of New Brunswick is on the losing side of history — but we must take them to court to prove that!

The Co-Chairs of the IMW Peaceisaac & Friendship Legal Fund are delighted to have the support of Chief and Council of Elsipogtog First Nation as well as traditional leaders, elders inside and outside the community, and and many non-aboriginal allies. Everyone wants to see this Fund grow quickly so we can hire a lawyer to protect our health, communities, water, natural environment, and so much more.

It is a great pleasure to announce that the National Office of the Council of Canadians (COC) has agreed to be the Financial Trustee for this fundraising initiative. All donations to fund will be held in trust by COC, and can only be withdrawn from that trust fund for the costs of mounting this legal defence of the land and water. A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed to assure that all donations are handled appropriately. Donors can have full confidence that their donations will go to this purpose only.


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Please help us assemble financial resources for

Protecting the Earth for Future Generations

Iapjiw Maliaptasiktɨtiew Wskwitqamu

To ensure that your valued contribution is handled with integrity and security that gives you confidence, please mail your donation cheques to our Financial Trustee:

Council of Canadians National Office, 700-170 Laurier Ave W., Ottawa, ON K1P 5V5. Make your cheque PAYABLE to “Council of Canadians”  BUT ALSO WRITE
on the note line or cheque back that this donation is for the “IMW Legal Fund.”

You can also contribute online through our Go Fund Me site, via PayPal:
Elsipogtog, N.B – Legal Action Fund >

Comments posted on this blogspace are not regularly monitored, so if you have questions or need more info, please email to imw.legalfund@gmail.com  This email address goes to Serena Francis (Mi’kmaq grandmother) and Ann Pohl (Canadian grandmother) who are co-chairs of the IMW Legal Fund fundraising campaign.

Nogemag.  Welaliek.  Merci.  Thank you.

Your Support is Needed — Backgrounder

Ann Pohl (annpohl@xplornet.ca) and Brian Seaman (brianseaman@yahoo.com) ASK FOR YOUR SUPPORT…  

FOR:      Mi’kmaq & Wabanaki Environmental Protectors, Kent County Grassroots Communities, & the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance

TO:        Develop a Legal Strategy to Make the Government of NB Send Home the Texas Frackers and PROTECT ATLANTIC REGION for future generations.


“Catch and Release” is fishing terminology but also describes an RCMP tactic for intimidating anti-shale gas protesters and environmental protectors in New Brunswick. On November 29th, an older Acadian man standing alone with a placard was arrested and then released without charge. An independent journalist experienced this three separate times. In one memorable incident, a Mi’kmaq spiritual leader from the Elsipogtog First Nation peacefully protested dressed as Santa, and was arrested, detained, and then released without charge. These are not isolated examples of abuse of process as will become clear below.

Four years ago, the Government of New Brunswick (NB) granted licenses for the exploration and testing for shale gas deposits on 1.4 million hectares of Crown Land, as well as various privately owned lands. The largest lease-holder is SWN Resources Canada (SWN), a wholly owned subsidiary of Texas-based Southwestern Energy.

Throughout 2011 until now, New Brunswickers (NBers) from all walks of life have been urging the Government of New Brunswick to not allow unconventional hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), through petitions, lobbying, protests, public information sessions, etc. With the emergence of the Idle No More movement a year ago, the Mikmaq People – especially those from Elsipogtog First Nation — got on board with this anti-fracking opposition in a BIG way.

People, including NB’s own Chief Medical Officer of Health, are concerned about the links between fracking and pollution of water, land and air, and its potential impact on natural habitat and human health. The other huge issue is the lack of consent by NBers to proceed with extreme shale gas extraction, especially the Indigenous people of the province, who never ceded their original territory in the pre-Confederation Peace & Friendship Treaties. Regardless, the NB government’s enthusiasm for fracking has continued unabated.

Fast forward to early June 2013, when SWN began seismic testing for shale gas deposits in Kent County (c. 50 km north of Moncton). Ignored by their own provincial government, Acadian and English-speaking allies rallied behind the Mi’kmaq in a unique grassroots alliance to protect the Signigtog District of Mi’kmak’i. As SWN moved around Kent County, several “Unity Camps” were established on properties volunteered by area residents.

After facing stiff resistance, SWN temporarily ceased testing in late July with only about 40% of their planned work program complete.

When SWN returned in September, the “Rexton” or “Route 134” camp was set up. Demonstrations resumed, this time including a road blockade. For almost three weeks, the RCMP showed restraint, and the protest remained peaceful.

RCMP changed tactics at dawn on October 17th. Hundreds of heavily armed officers raided the camp, citing as pretext the need to enforce a civil injunction by the SWN corporation against several demonstrators plus unsubstantiated information that the protest had become dangerous. Native and non-Native area residents opposed to fracking rushed to the scene. In the ensuing melee, a phalanx of various police officers (perhaps from more than just the RCMP) deployed flash bombs, fired bean bag bullets and sprayed pepper spray directly into the faces of people, including elderly people and even children. The news reports you have all seen (the burning police cars) neglected to mention that the Mi’kmaq Warriors providing protest security were arrested several hours earlier. Questions remain about who started these fires, as well as police claims about weapons being used by the protestors.

Forty people, including Elsipogtog Chief Aaron Sock, were arrested. Most were “Catch and Release” (their charges were subsequently dropped). Some were charged with various offences, often public mischief. Several Mi’kmaq men and one teenage boy were detained without bail pending arraignments. One Warrior was sentenced on a plea bargain. Two are still in jail. None have had the benefit of Gladue or Aboriginal Court Services. (People are still being arrested, presumably based on extensive video taping by private security and public police forces, although to date none have been charged with starting the fires that consumed the police vehicles.)

Fifteen people (Native and non-Native) are being sued by SWN for economic loss in what is often colloquially called a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP). In conjunction with their civil actions, SWN was also granted two injunctions, dated October 3 and November 22. Both injunctions also name “John Doe” and “Jane Doe.” The latter injunction restricted anyone in NB not employed by SWN (by virtue of “John and Jane Doe”) from being within 250 metres of company equipment and/or personnel.

SWN has finally left NB with perhaps 50% of their planned 2013 work programme complete. They say they will return and indeed are being welcomed back by NB Premier David Alward.

Virtually every lawyer in NB with civil litigation experience does business with Irving industries, who publicly partnered with SWN since 2011.  Modest legal assistance has been provided “off the record,” but there are no lawyers “of record” for: 

A number of relevant background documents and additional links can be viewed elsewhere on this blogspace. 

REPORT from Texas County, New Irvwick Nouveau — formerly know as Kent County NB/Signigtog District

December 13, 2013:
They are throwing EVERYTHING they have at us. And still many of us are brave enough to say out loud: We won’t give up until you give up threatening us with fracking…

We must remain strong and united and brave, to honour ALL of US who are experiencing these state-enforced terror tactics:

  • Several good men, most or all of them Mi’kmaq Warriors, are incarcerated as I write this. …I am almost 100% sure that these men have no access to the Aboriginal Court Services that all Aboriginal persons in Canada are entitled to, under federal policy [see: http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/fund-fina/gov-gouv/acp-apc/index.html
  • A hundred or so arrests — many still facing charges, many under conditions that restrict their rights to defend their home, many now too frightened to stand up and protest…
  • Countless hundreds deeply traumatized to see the RCMP turn on US, especially the Mi’kmaq and other First Nation allies.
  • 15 or more people stuck in two SWN “SLAPP” lawsuits, as SWN seeks financial recompense for the costs of their delays in their work program.
  • 3 or more incidents where SWN or RCMP vehicles hit community members, and none of them “witnessed” by RCMP apparently, despite there very often being more police than community members… Also, bruises, cuts and other injuries during police actions…
  • Ambulances and fire trucks restricted by RCMP from accessing the protest sites in Brownsyard and on Route 134…
  • The real possibility of agent provocateurs being sent here to set equipment on fire — because I know for sure that none of my friends did that stuff, and also the “warriors” (who are being scapegoated for so much by mainstream justice and media) were all arrested long before the vehicles burned on Oct 17th.
  • The RCMP serving notice that more arrests are coming (notice served via the Irving-controlled media). Two more arrests already happened last week, both apparently for violations of conditions to stay away from the ongoing protests. This is how the justice system ties people up… it is as deliberate a tactic to chill leaders and the general public as the SLAPP suit…

It would be easy to give into fear or even paranoia. SO MANY of Us are saying “will I be next? or will ___ be next?” Perhaps EACH ONE of us is thinking: “will I be next?” Can I or you or we be charged with nuisance or mischlef just to tangle us up in conditions – for thinking things? or for standing next to the wrong person? or speaking up about something wrong? …well now, as FDR said in 1932:

“This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance…”

Media front:

  • Miles Howes (intrepid reporter from Halifax Media Co-op) repeatedly harassed for his outstanding investigative journalism, in which he editorializes for the 99%. The state terror forces are still trying to find a way to pin the summer SWN rig fire on Miles, and have kept his phone and camera last time he was hauled in to the cop shop.
  • The CBC (Jennifer Choi or her cameraman or both) was told they were covered by the injunction, and had to stay away from SWN equipment, making reporting darn difficult.
  • The major NB print media almost all owned by the second richest family in Canada, constantly editorializing from their 1% perspective.

These violations and state terror excesses seem absolutely overwhelming. But somewhere in all of this is THE ANSWER, the ultimate way to win this one. People have been talking about a class legal action, an idea that is sounding really good to me.

IS IT TIME for a mass grassroots All Peoples’ collective legal action?

  • for our human rights (all of them!)
  • for recognition and enforcement of the Peace and Friendship Treaty law
  • to protect our water and communities and bioregion
  • to register complaints and address the abuses and violations many of us experienced
  • show the government(s) that we are their bosses, not the other way around

I know there must be a way to put all that stuff in a pot and set it to boil! We just need to get together and sort out the legal avenue(s) . We can’t keep reacting, we have to pro-act…

First main problem is finding the law team to do this. Almost all the really good legal help in NB seems to either working for “The Man” — or too scared to stand up for The People, ’cause they want to work for The Man. Sad to say but that’s what I see, and I have had a front row seat on looking for lawyers for defence purposes. I have had LITERALLY dozens offer to help me “with advice” (sometimes hiding anonymously behind other people who contact me), but none willing to just come out from the shadows… Time for some brave ones to step forward!

We won’t give up until you give up threatening us with fracking… We are against extreme deep shale mining here in the Signigtog District of Mi’kmak’i, en L’Acadie, in Kent County NB —– and together, united with our Neighbours, we are standing up for the water and land and environment and sustainable livelihoods and public health and our communities.

We ARE in Unity for Future Generations. Nogemag.

Granny Annie (aka Ann Pohl)