SOLIDARITY from Sikniktuk Mi’kma’ki to Wet’suwet’en Territory

The so-called dangerous RCMP “precedents” in Wet’suwet’en are actually standing operational policy.

by Ann Pohl, Part 2 of 2
The people in the photo above are the stragglers who were still around when we remembered to take a photo.
NOTE: Most photos in this blog are poor quality. Except where otherwise credited,
they are
screenshots from this video OR this video.

 

Responding to the Call:

From the moment of the Wet’suwet’en call-out for international solidarity actions, we Sikniktuk water protectors knew we had to do something.

What the Wet’suwet’en were going through, on the opposite coast of Canada, was all too familiar to us. It is wrong. Both their territory and ours are unceded. In both cases the Indigenous People’s were saying “no” to the proposed industry on their lands. In both cases there are several Supreme Court of Canada decisions that specifically establish the rights of Indigenous people to protect the resources on these unceded territories. We both met unconscionable aggressiveness and disrespect from the RCMP. These are just of few of our similarities.

This solidarity message from Unist’ot’en meant a lot to us, back in 2013.

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We faced the RCMP as corporate enforcers for the fracking company SWN Resources Canada everyday, for seven months, in Kent County NB/Sikiniktuk Mi’kma’ki, (aka “Rexton” or “Elsipogtog”). Things got especially rough in mid-October, which is when this message arrived.

In the first few weeks of our protracted defence of our water, back in June 2013, we met local RCMP on the frontline. Then we started seeing RCMP troops coming in from outside Sikniktuk. Here is a map of our Mi’kmaq district, from  this Radio-Canada link). 161109_lm5tg_territoire-revendication_sn1250

The local RCMP officers were back at the station. Scuttlebutt, aka “mocassion telegraph” or “grapevine news”, was that it was too hard for local RCMP to meet their extended family and neighbours on the frontline. The official line was they were needed for “regular duties.”

The imported RCMP troops chased us around for months. In mid-October, with days of precision planning including the apparent use of provocateur agents and infilitrators, the RCMP servants to the government of New Brunswick and SWN invaded our non-violent camp on Route 134 in Rexton. They said it was to enforce SWN’s corporate civil law injunction based on a SLAPP suit and extraordinary claims for damages.

Actually the RCMP invasion was all about rescuing the SWN “thumper” seismic testing truck that was being held behind a barricade by peaceful water protectors. The purpose of that equipment was to find the best place to start drilling, in order to frack for shale gas. Our primary strategy since June was non-violently resisting, by standing or sitting in front of the trucks, to stop the company from collecting this data.

When they invaded our camp on October 17, 2013, the RCMP imported 200 or so tactical and riot control RCMP. They came from at least four different divisions, if we go by their different outfits.

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There were issues about RCMP conduct from the get-go. Based on these, the Civilian Commission mandated to review and report on RCMP complaints struck a Public Interest Investigation by the end of July. Complaints sky-rocketed after October 17th.

As the Commission’s investigation got underway, they met stalls and run-arounds, blank responses and inconsistencies. These raised more questions, and the Chairperson of the Civilian Commission filed his own complaint to the RCMP. “The December 17, 2014, Chair-initiated complaint will examine the conduct of those members who responded to, or managed the response to, the Kent County shale gas protests in 2013, including a policy and practice perspective,” says their website.

Countless people were “caught and released,” driven away from the protests and let go, sometimes in difficult circumstances. Over a hundred people in all were arrested. Some served jail time. Many were released on “conditions” that required them to stay away from protests, even our events and meetings. More than two dozen were actually named in the two SLAPP suits that formed the legal basis for the injunctions. Many of us SLAPPed had to countenance the threat of losing what we own, to make up for SWN’s so-called “damages” due to our resistance.

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My SLAPP suit paperwork. 22 other people also got this.

None of us can forget how the RCMP acted and manipulated, the dehumanizing and viciousness. As the resistance built, the Indigenous water protectors led the way, and bore the real brunt of the resistance at the hands of the RCMP and the rest of the “justice” system.

For all of us, especially the Acadians and Anglo settlers in our unified movement, this was an eye-opener, about how the Corporatocracy of Canada operates. Those who still had some faith in our “democracy” (where politicians respond to grassroots peoples’ views) were deeply shaken in 2013.

In response to the call for action from Unist’ot’en last week, we immediately decided to gather mid-day on the road by the RCMP station in Richibucto. This station is closest to where the massive RCMP invasion of our water protection movement happened a little over five years ago.

Outside the RCMP station, January 8, 2019

While it was clear why, when and where we would rally in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en People, what we would do was not. We did not expect many people. In this sparsely populated rural area, many people live close to the edge financially and do not have gas money to spare. The plan was for midday on a Tuesday. It was -20C outside. There was no way we could build a fire to stay warm in front of the cop shop!

But, the real reason we did not expect many people goes much deeper. To this day, many of our water protectors are still affected by the “state” coming down so heavy on them. To say our communities were traumatized and embittered by all of this is not an overstatement.

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For starters, I had not notified the RCMP of our intent to gather at their station. So, there we were, in their parking lot with banners, signs and flags. I knew we had to go into the station and explain why we were outside. I expected no trouble with this. Though some newbies cycle through this RCMP detachment, the regulars at this station live and work in this area. These are our local guys. The ones we call for domestic, vehicle, theft, and other issues. It was their water and communities we were protecting, as well as our own. …In their hearts, they know this.

My worldview insists that inside everyone there is a conscience, though sometimes this is turned off by training, or by bitter experience. Above all, we had to try to communicate somehow with the RCMP so they could feel what their actions do to people. They must not be allowed to avoid understanding the consequences of their actions. This is the only way we can hope to rehumanize some of them, to reclaim them for the hard immediate work we have as a species, which is to change our behaviour, to save our single and only beloved shared planet.

I asked the first half dozen arrivals: who wanted to go in with me? All seemed willing. As the cleansing Smudge passed, I became fully aware that each of us had something important to say to the RCMP about why we were there. I proposed we all go in to do that.

We entered the RCMP detachment station in Richibucto, a large group, overfilling the waiting room lobby. (Eventually there were twenty of us.) I walked up to the recpetionist’s window and explained we were the people rallying outside with the signs and all, and we would like to speak with the most senior person in the station.

A few moments later, Cpl. Dan Melanson came into the lobby and introduced himself. I said we were gathered outside in solidarity with the non-violent Wet’suwet’en water protectors and land defenders, and presented him with the pre-invasion statement from their Clan Leaders.

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Wela’lin APTN reporter Angel Moore for being present and tweeting this photo.

He said that “over here in New Brunswick, we do not know too much about this issue.” I said his heavily militarized riot and tactical RCMP colleagues in British Columbia had just forcibly entered Wet’suwet’en unceded territory to enforce an corporate injunction. This news took many of us here in Kent County/Siknitktuk back to 2013, when we experienced the same thing. We had come to share what we feel about this.

We agreed to talk while standing in a circle in the lobby. I asked him to make notes of what we said, and pass these up the line of command., explaining we want to hear back from the leadership in the RCMP what they have to say about the points each of us would be making. He agreed to do that. Cpl. Melanson has since emailed me to say he has done as requested, and will get back to me when they get back to him. I am not holding my breath, but I do hope we will hear something back. Maybe even create an opportunity to speak with the regional commanders. Meanwhile I have asked Cpl. Melanson to send me the list of points he included in his internal memo. I have not yet heard back from him...

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borrowed from Isaac Murdoch, chi miigwetch

As the early-birds among us entered the RCMP station, APTN reporter Angel Moore tweeted, “Protectors say people are passionate… Emotions are high, most of the protectors were here in 2013 at the anti fracking protests, and those who were not here remember.” Following is what we said to Cpl. Melanson…

Shame on Canada!

One of our group shared that “Criminal law is designed to control the poor, and corporate law is designed to protect the rich.” The RCMP are supposed to deal with criminals and public safety. Canada’s national police force has no business enforcing a private company’s interim injunction on unceded Indigenous territory. The RCMP knew this in early October 2013, but forgot it two weeks later. (For more on this and related points, see this critique I wrote about Bill C-51, especially point #3.)

In the case of the Wet’suwet’en People, there are clear legal reasons why it was wrong for the RCMP to invade their territory to push them out of the corporation’s way. Two Supreme Court of Canada decisions support the rights of the Traditional Clan Leaders to exercise jurisdiction over their original homelands, from “mountaintop to mountaintop” (the Tsilhqot’in Dcision), as recorded in traditional stories and songs passed down over the generations to hereditary leaders (the Delgamuukw Decision).

Talking with Cpl. Melanson, some of us observed that the current Canadian government, led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, consisently says it supports the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. (A CBC news report covered the spectacle Canada made at the UN plenary session in 2016, when it officially adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.) The invasion of Wet’suwet’en territory on January 7th, and the continuing occupation of their territory by the RCMP, violates more than a dozen Articles of that Declaration, including Article 30 as the RCMP acted as a military force in this instance, and when here in Sikniktuk in 2013.

Another opinion offered to Cpl. Melanson is that The Indian Act Chief and Council have no jurisdiction beyond their reserve boundaries, so all the spin about how the RCMP are just enforcing “the screenshot at 2019-01-14 08-32-54rule of law” is bogus. The tired old argument about the “rule of law” surfaces whenever politicians and police act on behalf of corporations to repress peaceful dissent. Clearly, the “rule of law” was on the side of the Wet’suwet’en (SCC decisions, limitations of The Indian Act politicians, UNDRIP).

Dogwood says it clearly:

“Under The Indian Act, elected councillors only have jurisdiction over reserve lands – the tiny parcels set aside for First Nations communities that are administered much like municipalities. That’s not where this pipeline would go.

“What is at stake in the larger battle over Indigenous rights and title are the vast territories claimed by the Crown but never paid for, conquered or acquired by treaty. In Wet’suwet’en territory, those lands, lakes and rivers are stewarded by hereditary chiefs and their relatives under a governance system that predates the founding of Canada… History will not look kindly on politicians who condone the use of force against local people on behalf of a multinational oil and gas consortium.” (my emphasis)

Prime Minister Trudeau was quoted saying the use of RCMP was “less than ideal” but justified by the “rule of law.” Tanya Talaq tore strips off Trudeau, in the Toronto Star on January 10th:

Let’s unpack that. A ‘less than ideal situation’ is missing the sale on three-ply Kleenex and having to settle for two-ply. A ‘less than ideal situation’ is locking your keys in your car. The arrests of 14 people by heavily armed RCMP officers over adherence to Indigenous human rights and land title? ‘Less than ideal’ doesn’t capture it. As this week again showed, the Trudeau government’s relations with Indigenous communities are nowhere near ideal.“

West Coast Environmental Law’s recent blog about the RCMP invasion of Wet’suwet’en Territory takes up the question of “the rule of law”

Respecting the rule of law is indeed important, but it can’t be selective. To truly uphold the rule of law, the constitutional recognition of Aboriginal title and governance must be meaningfully applied in Crown decision-making, before crucial decisions are made about Indigenous territories… The Crown’s resistance to concluding agreements that meaningfully recognize title and rights, while making important decisions unilaterally in the meantime… is clearly incompatible with commitments at the federal and provincial levels to rights recognition and reconciliation.”

According to the Prince George Daily News, the RCMP are now planning to set up a temporary detachment in the area at the centre of this controversy. If feelings are running high, as they did here in 2013, this could lead to whole new crisis.

In fact, the rule of natural law that underlies all of the resistance. That is why the Wet’suwet’en want no pipelines on their territory, why we refuse to allow fracking shale gas here in Sikniktuk, and substantially what motivated each of us to be present in the  Richibucto RCMP detachment last week.

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There are huge social issues around our planet. Most are connected to the looming environmental collapse due to climate issues. Climate scientists’ international organization, the IPCC, recently released a report that says we have 12 years to limit climate catastrophe. 6,000 peer reviewed works are referenced in their report. “At the current level of commitments, the world is on course for a disastrous 3C of warming,” perhaps even more. (With our tarsands, melting icecaps, thawing muskeg, leaky pipelines and transportation systems, massive frack fields and hydro dams, monoculture tree plantations, 3 coasts of rising seas, abuse of salt waters, mega-agriculture, etc., Canada has a huge role in causation and vulnerability to disasters.) Even though change is slow, and many appear deaf to the facts, the IPCC report authors believe that “the increasingly visible damage caused by climate change will shift opinion their way.” Here in Kent County/Sikniktuk, we are already seeing the chaos and damage, and this is intensifying.

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A young man from Saint John addressed this with Cpl. Melanson in a passionate intervention. Over the next dozen years or so, an extraordinary amount of damage will continue to be wrought on our planet. When it finally sinks in that Indigenous Peoples and non-Indigenous environmentalists are correct about the urgency of changing course to address climate change, “You and fellow officers in the RCMP will realize that you made a huge mistake helping to force through all this fossil fuel industrial development and infrastructure. You will come and want to join us then. Of course, we will welcome you. But the question individual officers need to ask themselves now, before it gets to that point, is ‘Which side of the history we are making right now do you want to be recorded as being on?’ “

Shame on the RCMP!

One person of blended settler and Anishinaabe heritage, but living in Kent County, said he goes into schools ls to teach children about culture and worldview. “The first of the seven sacred Grandfather teachings is respect. How can we respect the RCMP when they don’t even respect the people they are sworn to serve? With the children, I have no choice except to speak the truth, that we obviously can see with our own eyes. Who do they serve? Why do they disrespect the First People of Turtle Island, with their actions? These questions must be answered so we can have confidence in those that are here, supposedly, to protect and serve all of us.”

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To serve corporations and protect their assets.

This man also mentioned community relationships. “Do you know the history of this region? Do you realize that your Acadian ancestors were helped to survive by the Mi’kmaq people in the 1700’s in particular? How could you justify what happened in 2013?” Someone else mentioned the Peace & Friendship Treaty, the only treaty ever signed by the Mi’kmaq. It talks only about how nations of Peoples should get along with one another, no mention of surrendering land, title, or guardianship.

Several people emphasized that we pay the salaries of the RCMP, who are meant to serve and protect everyone, not to serve and protect the corporations above all else.

At least three of those present had read the recently published book, Policing Indigenous Movements. A Mi’kmaq water protector said that it was “very disheartening” to learn the extent to which people like him are considered national security threats and what the state is doing based on that conviction. A non-Indigenous person said it was really embarassing that the RCMP had this attitude. Here is a link to an article, called Why the RCMP may not be a neutral player in the Wet’suwet’en anti-pipeline dispute, in which one of the scholars who wrote this book is interviewed. Cpl. Melanson was one of the people who wrote down the title of this book. Someone commented they hope he finds time to read it.

Mi’kmaq persons who were present at the RCMP invasion in our region in 2013 told Cpl. Melanson that many other people from Elsipogtog wanted to be there with us talking to him and rallying in support of the west coast water and land protectors. However, they were afraid to attend. Several commented that it was very good to have non-Indigenous allies present there with them.

Workers can refuse to work if the conditions are unsafe, so the question was raised, “Can the members of the RCMP refuse to work if they are being asked to do something they think is not ethical?” Cpl. Melanson seemed to find this profound, and perhapssad. The community membnr who raised this suggested that, given the serious deep environmental and climate issues humanity is facing, supporting pipeline infrastructure construction by oppressing non-violent defenders and protectors is unethical.

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One of the grandmothers recounted a dream she just had. Her mother was dragged from her bed by an RCMP. She asked Cpl. Melanson, “When will the violence against us stop? Our ancestors are crying, our children are hurting, and I am not sure if you can do anything about it, but I really hope you can be a voice in someone’s ear.”

A non-Indigenous grandmother said that the world is in such a perilous situation environmentally that it is simply incomprehensible how the RCMP can justify to themselves that it is ok to promote further fossil fuel development. “It used to be that as a grandmother I would be thinking, should I start an savings plan to help with my grandchild’s education? Will they want to go to university? What will they do when they grow up? Now I think, will my grandchild have a planet on which to have a future?

Another grandmother said, “We are all concerned about future generations. The land doesn’t belong to the corporations, yet the RCMP protects them, while we pay your salaries with our taxes.”

A man commented that “we are tired of being bullied by you.” Another man followed this thread, saying we know what happened here in Rexton. The special RCMP who came here did what they are trained to do. It seems many come from families where you were brought up to hate, and went in all psyched up, to beat the crap out of Indigenous protectors. What you should have been doing is protecting the people who want to protect the water. It is your water too.”

screenshot at 2019-01-14 08-29-13The observation was made that the RCMP are always in the middle of whatever brutal measures Canada is trying to force on Indigenous Peoples, and also have enough rotten apples in their own ranks that they are also mired in their own controversies about Indigenous Peoples. Cpl. Melanson assured us that the people he works with have good intentions and attitudes, but he said racism can crop up in any group. A community member said the RCMP must not allow themselves to be used in this way, and “to make your own definition of what is ethical behaviour.”

The topic of the Civilian Commission’s report came up. Here we are five and almost one-half years after the Public Interest Investigation was launched and we still have no report. Numerous news stories and reports coming from Wet’suwet’en describe that they are going through the same traumatic brutality and callousness we experienced, see: First Nations arrested at B.C. checkpoint accuse ‘over-equipped’ RCMP of excessive force, also: People arrested at Gidimt’en anti-pipeline camp allege inappropriate use of force. no-fracking-health-yellow-8.5-150x150

On January 14th, the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance issued an Open Letter to New Brunswick MP’s. They appear to have new information about the Civilian Commission report:

“The actions in question [in Wet’suwet’en] resonated strongly* with those of us in New Brunswick who experienced the similar action of the RCMP raid on Elsipogtog over five years ago… with government employing the RCMP as an enforcement arm of fossil fuel interests; elevating commercial interests via an injunction over the larger and fundamental issues of civil rights, indigenous rights and international obligations at play.

“We have two requests to make of you. The first is to make the federal government aware of our position and our support for the We’suwet’en Clan Leaders…

“The second request is for you and the federal government to put pressure on the RCMP Commissioner to release the CRCC investigation report on the events at Elsipogtog… It has been over 5 years in preparation, and via our communications with the CRCC we know that it has been completed and is only awaiting a decision to be released.” (my emphasis)

Hopes were expressed in front of Cpl. Melanson that we might see this report during our lifetimes. While it was felt that rank and file RCMP might be very interested to read and learn from this report,it was observed that sreluctance to allow this report to see the light of the day could well emanate from state security personnel (elected, uniformed, civilian) who believe their own hype that Indigenous rights activists, defenders and protectors are terrorists.

The report would almost certainly challenge the dominant narratives about who is wrongright as well as critique official justifications for use of extraordinary measures. The underlying question of whether the RCMP should enforce private corporate civil court injunctions will have to be addressed as well. n this report.

Another topic that was mentioned by several people was the RCMP protocol of excluding media. Here in Kent County/Sikniktuk it appeared almost accidental that the media could not get to the protest sites, where water protectors were preventing SWN Resources Canada from using their seismic testing equipment. A combination of RCMP tactics – ranging from kettling the protestors and protectors, to creating barricades so no cars could pass through, to using the draconian terms of the second injunction to prevent reporters from stopping anywhere near the SWN equipment – all served to create a media exclusion zone. As person who often did media liaison work, I frequently heard reporters complaining they could not get to our sites to cover the stories.

On the morning of the actual invasion, October 17, 2013, the only mainstream media that could enter the zone sealed off by the 200 or so militarized RCMP was the one reporter who came in with them, an “embedded” reporter from Sun News, who told only the RCMP side of the events. All alternative coverage came from social media, although early on the Halifax Media Co-op correspondent was able to send out some reports, until he was detained by police. A reporter from APTN found his way in at some point. Our area is not like the Wet’suwet’en Territory, in that there are multiple methods of access if one has the right vehicle, friends, and knowledge of the trails.

The outrage about this strategy being used in Wet’suwet’en is encouraging. When it happened here in Sikniktuk, it was hardly mentioned in amongst all the other concerns. Now we see the issue rising above the din.

The international Committee to Protect Journalists saying, “Authorities in Canada should immediately end the arbitrary restrictions on journalists covering the police breakup of the pipeline protest. Journalists should be able to freely cover events of national importance, without fear of arrest.” Apparently an RCMP spokesperson said the “temporary exclusion zone” was established to ensure public safety. It is worth noting that this is what RCMP commanders told me when I complained about the exclusion of media here in 2013. I argued that the presence of media would help ensure public safety, as we the public were the ones in danger from the company’s private security as well as those RCMP members with less self-control.

APTN reported that neither their news crew not the Vancouver CBC TV crew could enter, and NDP MP Nathan Cullen was also prohibited from accessing the site. As soon as the tactical/paramilitary RCMP force arrived on site, all social media feeds and posts are the Camp went silent. APTN also reports that an RCMP spokesperson said the police had nothing to do with the sudden, timely disruption of communications. However, Tom Henheffer, vice president of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), told APTN that this tactic “is very commonly employed and is very difficult to fight against… it takes too long for a journalist to get a lawyer, go to court to get an order to allow them to get on to the site.”

Ricochet media editorialized “We are gravely concerned by the RCMP’s decision to bar journalists from the site of yesterday’s raid, and their continued refusal to allow media access to the area today…. The right to freedom of the press is guaranteed in our constitution and the right of the public to know is fundamental to our democracy. …We note with concern that the department of public safety and the minister responsible for the RCMP, Ralph Goodale, have referred requests for comment to the RCMP, describing the exclusion of media as an “operational matter.” …this precedent must not be allowed to stand. It seems clear that the RCMP’s intent was to limit reporting from the site, rather than to safeguard the well-being of journalists. This is consistent with” an APTN report on “internal RCMP and government documents,” which “show ‘police are not assessing Indigenous protests in Canada based on factors of criminality but are more concerned about the protestors’ ability to gain public support.’ “

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While we could argue that the “precedents” were set here in Sikniktuk, or least the mechanics tested here, on January 8th many of us raised the same points as the three organizations above.

An elder and community leader from Elsipogtog told Cpl. Melanson “Canada has abandoned you. Trudeau’s comments made that clear. He is saying the federal government has nothing to do this, like Pontius Pilate always washing his hands, always washing his hands. Trudeau might want to wash his hands but I will not allow him. This is going to fall hard on the RCMP. I very strongly condemn the invasion of a sovereign nation by the RCMP on behalf of Canada.”

Look at us. We are not terrorists.”

In some ways, the time we spent in the Richibucto RCMP detachment lobby was like being in the opening round of a Restorative Justice Circle. Cpl. Melanson stood in for the entire RCMP force, as we shared our feelings from 2013 and strongly criticized the repeat operation that had taken place on Wet’suwet’en territory since the court appoved Coastal GasLink/TransCanada’s interim injunction.

One person who was present with us said, “What made it good for people was that RCMP Daniel seemed to truly listen and also that no one was rushed. Although we were in RCMP facilities, the lack of a desk between us made for a feeling of equality, as in a true, be it impromptu, round table discussion. …And afterwards, the warmth and sharing of the round dance, the Honour Song…..will stay in my heart, also, just so you know.”

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Credit to Ernesto Carranza, Miramichi Leader

Another person said, “They are trained to look like they are listening and to stay patient. I have a hard time trusting that anything improved will come from this, because all my life and in my work I have seen how they “act” with Aboriginal people.”

As much as we have trust issues with the RCMP, they have them with us. Another of our people commented, “Notice how he was standing with his back to the interview room and the door was cracked open? We did not have to ask him to take notes. In the interview room there is a camera and recorder of voice, and probably there is something like that in the lobby too.”

The reporter from the Miramichi Leader newspaper was perhaps more objective. He wrote, “Melanson stood in a corner and listened to protesters…” He quoted the Cpl. Saying, “I will relay these concerns up and for me that’s all I can do right now… We can take in the concerns of the community, actively listen, and see if those concerns make it to the right people.” The news story continued: Cpl. Melanson acknowledged he had worked and lived in Richibucto for the last six years, was also in Rexton during the protests, and said he doesn’t want that situation to occur ever again.” (my emphasis)

In my view, committed as I stubbornly am to non-violence, the only way we can change things in human relationships is through changing understanding, through person-to-person conversation. What we did was important in general, but specifically for a community like ours which has been through exactly the same thing as happened in Wet’suwet’en territory last week.

For more than an hour, every time I looked at Cpl. Melanson, he looked very emotionally affected. Take a look at these images. You can also see more of him in the videos linked at the top of this blog, from which these still were taken.

What I saw each time I looked at him was he was often reflective and looking somewhat sad, or as if aching inside to be hearing all this. Down. At times his body seemed limp. Never angry. Sincere mostly. No doubt he must also have been frustrated by some recounts and comments that were harsh but he made no effort to argue. Only once did he try to correct (and that was me!). Perhaps he was even a bit grateful to finally have the chance to listen to us. As we were leaving, he shook my hand and said he was happy to have finally met me in person. I think there were others in the room he must have felt the same way about, as there were at least five others present who were centrally involved in organizing and speaking publicly in 2013. Odd that it took this long to start the conversation. That shows our lack of imagination as well as their limitations.

We are talking about doing something like this again. Personally, I am daydreaming about traveling across Canada, mobilizing local Indigenous-Settler alliances to go into cop-shops everywhere and try to get someone to sit down and talk with us. We have planet to save, and that starts with each of us.

A Final Word on “Reconciliation”

At the outset, I explained to Cpl Melanson we are here in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en People because we know that they are going through. The APTN reporter who was present with us tweeted me saying, “What happened yesterday was illegal.” And also tweeted Melanson responding. “I will let my superiors know.”

A strong and committed water protector pointed out to Cpl. Melanson that after all that was done by the company and the government, much of which the RCMP had to get their hands dirty carrying out, “It did not work. There are ongoing community tensions, and really you ended up creating more resistance” because of the force’s appalling behaviour.screenshot at 2019-01-14 08-34-13

For me, I have been involved in citizen activism for peace and disarmament, anti-racism, civil rights, and international solidarity my entire adult life. In 1990, I was drawn into Indigenous human rights and solidarity work by the obvious injustices occurring at Oka/Kanehsatake. “Oka” was followed by the Old Man River, Ipperwash, Gustafsen Lake, Burnt Church, Elsipogtog, and now Wet’suwet’en. Personally I was only directly involved in solidarity work on a couple of these issues but I do know that the responses from the authorities to each of these have come from the same play book, albeit more sophisticated each iteration. It is no wonder to me that frustration is growing. Yes, of course, as my friend said, what the RCMP is doing is not working and it is only building more resistance and public support because it is so wrong.

Ellen Gabriel, always a respected speaker for the Kanehsatake Mohawks, commented on social media last week:

“We’ve been asked hundreds of times about lessons learned from the “1990 Oka Crisis.” Obviously Canada decided its lesson was to increase military training to its police forces.

“The “Kanehsatake Seige of 1990” included the status quo of Canada discriminating against the Haudenosaunee – People of the Longhouse – in fact making Indigenous traditional governments illegal. Canada deals only with the band councils it created and which it claims are the only ‘legitimate ‘ entity. So almost 29 years later people are now asking what is the difference between traditional governments and band councils.”

Gabriel’s answer is simple:

“One survived colonization. The other embraces it. The Two Row Wampum is the way to understand this. One path upholds Onkwehón:we culture, customs, law, and governance. The other path upholds the colonizers’ values and laws. There is no prejudice against those who chose the colonizer path, but allow those who choose traditional governance a voice and right to protect our ancestral heritage and human rights. Skén:nen.”

Few people realize Canada has signed many international human rights treaties and is required by some of these to report regularly to the UN Human Rights Committee on compliance issues inside Canada.

Even fewer people realize that Canada’s treatment of Indigenous persons inside Canada has long been an ongoing concern for the esteemed human rights experts at the UN. Canada is trying to get an seat on the Security Council of the UN, which it lost during the Harper government period, in large part because of that regime’s handling of Indigenous rights issues domestically. So there is some potential leverage there, because the UN human rights experts welcome “shadow reports” from informed citizens and groups, who may speak of things that the nation-state (in this case Canada…) does not wish to make public. 9200000010157436

As well, there is an “Optional Protocol” procedure which allows specific urgent specific human rights violations to be brought directly into the UNHRC apparatus, provided the claimant can convincingly assert that their own rights have been affected. Because Canada is eager to impress the UN, these are tactics worth considering.

The UN also has Special Rapporteurs who handle key human rights files. The Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples submitted a report in September 2018, called Attacks against and criminalization of indigenous peoples defending their rights. In the section called “Root causes and drivers behind attacks and criminalization,” she notes:

“The intensified competition over natural resources led by private companies, at times with government complicity, has placed indigenous communities seeking to protect their traditional lands at the forefront as targets of persecution…

“Disregard of indigenous rights of traditional lands ownership breeds tensions, subsequent violence and criminalization, as indigenous peoples become trespassers or illegal occupants of their own lands, subject to criminal charges… and removal from the lands they rely upon for their livelihoods, social and cultural cohesion and spiritual traditions. In the worst instances, escalating militarization, compounded by historical marginalization, results in indigenous peoples being targeted under national security acts and antiterrorism legislation, putting them in the line of fire, at times literally, by the army and the police (A/HRC/24/41/Add.3).

“The priority of indigenous peoples is the protection of their traditional lands, territories and natural resources. Indigenous peoples question a purely commercial development model which disregards their rights and causes irreparable harm to the environment and the natural resources they depend on for their survival.”

In the concluding observations of her report, the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples says,

“States carry the primary responsibility for ensuring that indigenous peoples are able to safely exercise their rights… Large-scale development projects are major drivers fuelling the escalation of attacks and the criminalization of indigenous peoples. The frequent undertaking of such projects without genuine consultation or measures to seek the free, prior and informed consent of the indigenous peoples concerned must cease…

The Special Rapporteur recommends that civil society continue to provide support and legal advice and facilitate the sharing of experiences in relation to protection measures for indigenous people.” (my emphasis)

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Credit to tweets by Angel Moore at APTN for this image.

We are civil society – all of us. This document is an attempt to do some of that sharing. I do think it would be useful for solidarious settlers to go in and talk, like we did, heart-to-heart, with local RCMP personnel in your area. We must make these conversations happen. Forget the politicians, they are all front men for the corporations. Talk to your local cops. I am not sure who said this, probably many wise revolutionaries, but we cannot change society until we bring the military and police on board.

I give the last words to Niigaan Sinclair, columnist at the Winnipeg Free Press, because just as here in 2013…

“The non-violent actions of Indigenous peoples at Unist’ot’en and Gidimt’en camps is an invitation to conversation. It is Canada who orders police and guns and ends any dialogue. It is Canada perpetrating violence and arresting people on their land. It is Canada forcing people to accept what they don’t want.

“That’s not a “nation-to-nation” relationship… The biggest challenge facing reconciliation is how Canada and Indigenous peoples share and listen to the other’s perspectives… Canada wants to tell Indigenous peoples who should sit at the negotiating table. When Indigenous peoples send representatives Canada doesn’t want to speak to, the RCMP is dispatched…

Who, this week, was ready to talk — and who brought the guns to the meeting?”

(my emphasis)

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Send reply comments to me at coc.kent.county.nb@gmail.com.
Wela’lin, merci, thanks. M’sit nokmaq. We are all related.

*Note: that link takes the reader to Part 1 of my report on our rally at the Richibucto RCMP detachment. This is Part 2, dealing with what took place in the dialogue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Submission to the Federal Government re: Consultation on the Anti-Terrorism Act (Bill C-51)

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December 13, 2016

To:         National Security Consultation, Public Safety Canada

From:   Ann Pohl, on behalf of the Kent County Chapter, Council of Canadians;

To the Attention of: 

I am writing to you today on behalf of the Kent County NB Chapter of the Council of Canadians.

We are pleased to learn that your government is seriously considering how to undo the considerable damage to human rights enacted through the Anti-Terrorism Act (formerly known as Bill C-51).

Unfortunately, we only became aware of your government’s consultation process on this matter about a week ago. In this letter, we ask you to consider the grave social importance of having a public meeting in our area. What follows is the “back story” so that you know why we make this request.

Introducing Ourselves

Our chapter supporters are some of the Anglo, Acadian, Mi’kmaq, and Newcomer community members who determinedly protected our watersheds, soil, air, communities, properties, and the health of our family and neighbours, from the threat of deep shale unconventional hydraulic fracking in 2013.

Actually, we were educating ourselves and others on this issue since 2011, when people in this area first learned about this proposed resource development by SWN Resources Canada. The industry was still in its youth when we heard it was coming here. Still, we were not operating on a lucky hunch when we began to kick up a fuss about the proposal for this to happen in our neighbourhood of New Brunswick. We were warned of the serious issues by other communities in the United States, who had been in the first wave of those to be fracked. For that, we are extremely grateful..

Aside from documented cases of pollution of water, soil and air, this resource extraction 02335e37ded043bf5b18318a013bd7b9process is incredibly capital and water-usage intensive, It contributes terribly to global climate issues due to fugitive methane releases, flaring, and the carbon footprint of the industrial practices of drilling, transporting, etc. On top of that, this form of deep fracking has proven to have very low productivity after just the first year. When the wells become too unproductive to merit more fracks, they are no longer used. Most governments have not demanded a guarantee for close-down in the contracts with proponents. Sometimes wells get capped off properly, but these may remain hazardous unless monitored continuously. There are many time-bombs in aging frack plays, because the cost of proper decommissioning and monitoring is greater than the profit margin supports.

Subsequent to our success at stopping the proponent from commencing with drilling, we have been proven correct in our concerns. There is now conclusive scientific research on the risks and hazards of this form of fracking. Our concerns were acknowledged by the Government of New Brunswick earlier this year, when an indefinite moratorium on hydraulic fracking was announced.

In short, we have been exonerated: we were right to defend our families and our rural environment from this environmental threat. Yet, in 2016, there are road-level resistors/protectors who are still living with court “conditions.” The conditions imposed on many of our Indigenous allies are far more severe than what a non-Indigenous person would expect. All-out attempts were made to make an example of us and thus discourage other similar Water Protection actions across Canada.

The facts about fracking above illustrate that we did the right thing when it needed to be done. We did this despite having to face down our own provincial government, one of the largest oil and gas mining companies in North America, and the most powerful resource extraction corporation in this province who also controls the vast majority of the mainstream media. In a sense, we were on the side of the angels, but obviously some of the national security forces in Canada did not agree.

The Repression We Experienced

I do not need to drag you through everything we went through. It is all a matter of public record in the media, and in various government files. I want to bring your focus to the particular matters which underscore why the Peoples of Kent County NB deserve our own public consultation meeting on domestic national security and the Anti-Terrorism Act. I will focus on four points:

  1. Critical Infrastructure Intelligence Assessment: Criminal Threats to the Canadian Petroleum Industry

    Around the same time as Bill C-51 was introduced to the federal parliament, a “top secret” RCMP 2014 document was somehow obtained by Greenpeace and released to the media. This document is an internal “security force” backgrounder. It clearly makes the argument for a stronger legislative framework to criminalize grassroots environmental protection action.

    It is significant to note that this document repeatedly suggests that peaceful protesters who assemble over climate concerns or other environmental issues are somehow a risk to national security. It is a disgrace that such a document would be produced in a country committed to respect for the civil and political rights of its citizenry.

    Throughout the document you will note that our allies and ourselves are specifically tumblr_mh3bkewfyd1s0tx32o1_500portrayed in a very negative manner. Completely missing from this biased document is what we actually did for four years to protect the water and environment here in Kent County NB and why we did it. Also, the document suggests we were all dangerous and inclined towards violent protest.

    Exaggerations, lies, misinformation, and disinformation are propagated in this official document. This is only one example of how we Protectors and Defenders have been villainized, disrupted, and otherwise attacked in the so-called interest of national security. We do not expect an apology for these slanderous comments. We would like the opportunity to tell leaders of Canada about the damage your police and security forces have done to lives here with these and other attacks.

  2. SWN Resources sued gas protesters for losses

    Two civil court actions were filed by SWN Resources Canada in Fall 2013 against some of us and our allies. (A link to an article on the first suit is provided in this section’s heading.) It is evident that these claims were launched for the purpose of discouraging public involvement in resisting the destruction of our local environment. Typically, civil actions like these are known as “SLAPP suits” (Strategic Legal Action to Prevent Public Participation in social activism). They include a claim for damages, on the basis of which an injunction is sought against protestors.

    14368804_10154323458455932_5073778277126996304_nThese suits are simply corporate violation of human rights. To those directly named, they cause alarm, depression, trauma, anger, and much more. In the broader community, they create panic and confusion for those who are affiliated with the named individuals through organizations or actions. In almost all cases, the suits amount to empty bullying. Few are taken to conclusion, primarily because corporations know they would lose with their inflated and untrue assertions. In a subsequent news report, it can be seen that the 10 named individuals in this first SWN Resources Canada initiated SLAPP suit are accused by the corporations of a range of illegal and obnoxious acts. Although our Chapter does not personally know all the individuals named, we do know that several of those accused had not done the things that were published in the newspaper as their “crimes.”

    In many jurisdictions there is no legislation preventing corporations from launching these exasperating actions. As in our area, the names of all accused would be dragged through the mud in public while all these people are doing is exercising their civil and political rights. An increasing number of jurisdictions are bringing in legislation that prevents frivolous and noxious legal action like this. To protect the rights of all Canadians, federal initiative is needed to ensure that SLAPP suits cannot happen anywhere in this nation.

  3. Chair-Initiated Complaint and Public Interest Investigation into the RCMP response to the shale gas (fracking) protests in Kent County, New Brunswick, in 2013

    In 2013, we spent seven months on the roads of this county to stop SWN Resource Canada’s search for the best fracking drill sites. Many of us – especially our Mi’kmaq allies – were subjected to severe repression by the RCMP. Numerous abuses of power took place.

    The RCMP also completely and inexplicably flip-flopped on the question of whether it was their responsibility to enforce a private corporation’s civil suit seeking damages for their losses from community leaders. Initially the RCMP said it was not their job: there is a court affidavit dated October 9th that substantiates this. For some unknown reason, a week later they changed their opinion, and immediately initiated one of the largest police attacks on a public protest ever seen in Canada. Even this assault, and a myriad of trumped-up charges and release conditions, did not stop us. Resistance continued on the road for another almost two months.

    Many of us who were involved feel strongly that much of the non-peaceful conduct on 2013 was the work of outsiders, possibly provocateurs, conceivably working for a security force that wanted to make us look bad. Not coincidentally, no protector/protester was convicted of the most controversial activity that took place: the burning of police cars. Our feelings about this are based in reality. It has been previously determined that RCMP have burnt buildings and cars, and conducted other illegal activities to discredit dissenters and activists.

    Many of us were traumatized by the experiences we had at the hands of the RCMP.

    tumblr_mh3bkewfyd1s0tx32o1_500Arising from all of this, hundreds of complaints about police abuse of powers were documented. These are being investigated by the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP. In December 2014, we were relieved to learn that the Civilian Commission has taken this matter so seriously that their own Commissioner also filed a complaint regarding RCMP activity. It is now more than three years since these abuses took place, and more than two years since the investigation began. It is very demoralizing that there has been no news about when we can expect a report from the Commission.

    Sadly, being disappointed by the Commission is not a huge surprise. In 2009, the Harper government removed outspoken Paul Kennedy, head of the Commission for Public Complaints against the RCMP, from his position. The government at that time also cut the budget of the this agency, and narrowed its purview. Subsequently, in December 2014, the Harper government finished off any hope for a valid independent process for review of RCMP actions through passage of the Enhancing Royal Canadian Mounted Police Accountability Act. This closed the Commission for Public Complaints and replaced it with the current Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (CRCC), which is mandated under the RCMP Act and has no powers to order anything. The CRCC can only make suggestions and use moral suasion.

  4. 35 Indigenous anti-shale gas protesters in N.B. on RCMP ‘threat’ list 

    Recent media reports indicate that the RCMP’s National Intelligence Co-ordination Centre has a list of 313 Indigenous activists who concern them. 89 of these are on a priority “watch list.” 35 of these “potential threats to public safety” got on the list because of anti-fracking resistance here in Kent County NB. Jeffrey Monaghan, an assistant professor at Carleton University’s Institute for Criminology and Criminal Justice, filed the Access to Information request that uncovered the list of Indigenous persons of national security interest. Monaghan is quoted saying, “These are Charter-protected activities… public, political events that people are engaging with.”

    14963180_10154449656475932_3513501820441595556_nIn a follow-up new story on CBC, ‘We’ve always been seen as a threat,’ says former N.W.T. premier of RCMP surveillance revelations, former NWT Premier Stephen Kawfki makes the point that “some of our people stand up to protect our land, wildlife, our way of life, our community against development and against business interests, industrial interests… When our people stand up and take a stand it evokes fear and outrage sometimes from other groups and individuals and we need protection. That’s what police are for.” Deneze Nakehk’o, who works with Dene Nahjo in the NWT, comments, “All this surveillance really makes it difficult for Indigenous people to trust the state.” Kawfki is concerned that “Canada reverts to police state surveillance, when we should all be working towards working together.”

    That is exactly our point. When any of us are handled like enemies of the state, when civil and political human rights are violated by the state, all of us are injured. Then we are all affected and become extremely distrustful. That is the situation today in Kent County NB.

    There are no comparable information releases for non-Indigenous people involved in environmental protection or social justice action across Canada, or specifically here in NB. However, we can be sure there is a long general and a shorter “watch-list” for non-Indigenous persons as well. At the community level, we grassroots people are all in this together. As well some non-Indigenous people have been long involved in peace and justice civil disobedience, and many work together with Indigenous communities.

What A Public Consultation Meeting re: the Anti-Terrorism Act would Mean for People in Kent County

another-worldIn this submission, we have not touched on all the problems in Canada’s current national security legislation, policies and programs. As mentioned, only last week we accidentally learned of this consultation process deadline. There are certainly dozens of issues we would like to highlight, but shortness of time makes that impossible. For now, suffice it to say we endorse anything sent in by any chapter of the Council of Canadians, the national office of the Council of Canadians, or from KAIROS, Voices-Voix, or the Canadian Section of Amnesty International.

Our immediate request is that your Committee come to Kent County NB to hear from people directly how we feel about being made to look like enemies of the state. Speaking for our Chapter members, and advocating also for all our diverse Water Protection allies, you need to see our faces and hear our voices to understand what needs to change and why.

After the treatment many of us endured, we need to know you care enough to take the time to do this. It may be a first step to rebuilding trust. As former NWT Premier Kawfki says, we are all in this together. There is no Planet B. We need to figure out how to get along and pull this planet back from the brink of ecoapocalypse.

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copied to:
Scott Bardsley, Media Coordinator/Minister of Public Safety; scott.bardsley@canada.ca

THIS IS GOING TO HURT

We are in a real mess.

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Responding to request for submissions on improving community relations with the RCMP in Kent County NB

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Date:   September 25, 2015
From:  Kent County NB Chapter of the Council of Canadians
To:      Civilian Complaints and Review Commission for the RCMP

Introduction

On August 27 2015, the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP issued a call for written submissions and recommendations on “how the RCMP and Kent County residents can re-build a positive relationship.”The Commission’s request for submissions arises from it’s ongoing investigation into the conduct of RCMP members during the 2013 environmental protection “anti-fracking”
actions in Kent County.

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This is a response to that call. In the online request for submissions on hpw to “rebuild” the “relationship,” the Commission acknowledges hearing from many witnesses and complainants who expressed that the conduct of the RCMP during protests against fracking had led to a lack of faith and trust in the police force.

The Kent County NB Chapter of the Council of Canadians also made a call-out: for ideas to be included in this response. Many people expressed profound doubt that anything could help with healing these wounds, the specific details of which are too numerous to mention here.

It is very clear to us that we became targets of a public relations war. From 2010 on, the
Government of New Brunswick was determined to shove deep shale gas industrial  development down the throats of rural New Brunswickers. This meant we had to accept
the new style of hydraulic refracturing – called “fracking” – which is clearly dangerous.
Communities across the province were in an uproar over this. There was and is no
evidence that there are any real benefits to the communities that get fracked, but initially
the provincial government used simple bluster and positive assertion to try to convince the public about the economic benefits and safety of deep shale gas fracking. As the truth started to come out, especially in peer-acclaimed research on benefits, risk, and hazards found in the New Brunswick Chief Medical Officer of Health’s Recommendations Concerning Shale Gas Development in New Brunswick (September, 2012), it became evident that the government was losing its public relations war.

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By 2013, it became patently obvious that corporate and public officials (both federal and
provincial) were concerned only with promoting climate-killing “extreme” petrochemical
industrial development. The pro-fracking elite was desperate. They needed a new public relations strategy, and decided to demonize those of us who wish to protect the
environment and community health from fracking.

Their public relations war was tweaked a few times, and ultimately re-aimed to focus on the danger of indigenous people and their environmentalist allies. As mentioned below, we can even identify the time period when the focus telescoped from saying we were all dangerous, to zeroing in on indigenous protectors as the primary targets. The “wrongs” committed in 2013 by officials during the anti-fracking actions are many – most severely: removals, arrests, charges, conditions, and sentences. These were often done in disregard for the pain inflicted, or the cultural and spiritual world of the protesters and protectors.

From our side of the fence, we had made a pledge to one another to stick to non-violent
strategies. This pledge came from all sectors within our united movement. We were never the aggressors. Although the clear abandonment of care-taking responsibilities by
Canadian governments, and the actions of the RCMP in the field, including physical and
spiritual attacks and illegal tactics such as “kettle-ing” did provoke some allies to lose their tempers, we were always standing firmly but non-violently in protection of our environment that sustains us.

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Our members acknowledge the inevitability of having a system for law and order in our
communities. We need a “peace officer” police force in whom we can have some trust and respect, and this is not presently the case. The first priority of the RCMP has to be the care and protection of the people in our communities. The RCMP must disassociate themselves from direct or indirect corporate control, whether this attempt to control comes through direct orders, or by persuasion from the corporations, or from governments who are promoting the corporate programs that threaten our communities.

Now, two years later, our group is guided on the matter of this request for submissions by some of our closest allies, who speak from and for the community of Elsipogtog. In the traditional manner of true warriors, residents of Elsipogtog “bore the brunt” of the
campaign to protect the water and region for all of us. We have heard that if something
meaningful is not done to improve local relationships between the RCMP and the
community, anger will continue to rise. The consequences of that could be alarming.

After considerable discussion on whether we could regard this request for submission as being made in “good faith,” we decided to prepare this response in an attempt to dialogue about the need to initiate some healing. Commitment on all sides to initiate healing requires courage and trust in faith that some good may come from it. Only after the healing is underway, can we begin to talk about how to “build a positive relationship.”

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The Facts from Our Point of View

1.   It is apparent that the RCMP have not been educated on the common knowledge about the Peace & Friendship Treaties, in which there was no surrender of land or resources by the Mi’kmaq People. It was evident as well that the RCMP have not benefited from cultural competency or anti-oppression training.

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2.   The issues at stake were basically a civil matter, where a corporation wanted to do something in and around communities that opposed this activity. People have a right to non-violent protest against such activity, a right that is guaranteed under the Canadian Constitution as well as the various international human rights accords to which the Government of Canada is signatory. The people involved in protest and protection resistance were well aware of their rights. This is why there were so many elders, women and children involved in the actions. No one expected the things that happened.

3.   The “Crown” failed in its obligations under Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution and additional legal precepts established by the Supreme Court of Canada and international law. The “Crown” in this case is the Province of New Brunswick, because management of natural resources falls under provincial jurisdiction.

RCMP guarding Thumper

4.   The underlying purpose of all this activism was first and foremost to protect the water. This is a poor region where there are few actual jobs. Most people of all cultures here make their livelihood at least in part from the land, rivers, ocean, and forests. Water is essential for the survival of people and these natural resource areas. People were concerned that the loss of good fresh water would mean having to leave the area where their family and cultures have lived for many generations, and in the case of the Mi’kmaq People since time immemorial. There appeared to be no understanding by the RCMP that protection of the water was the underlying issue for all community members involved in resisting the corporation’s activities, and a core issue for the extended communities supporting these activists.

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5.   The Government of New Brunswick contracts the RCMP as the NB provincial police force. Because the force is first and foremost a federal one, Indigenous people in particular have established expectations and protocols regarding the RCMP. To a certain extent, so do all Canadians. To enforce its pro-fracking policy, the New Brunswick provincial government exerted extreme influence and pressure on the RCMP to “break” the non-violent resistance of Kent County environmental protectors and protesters. This alone was the major factor creating the alienation between community members and the force. We knew that the RCMP were being used politically to advance a corporate/government agenda we opposed. None of the authorities cared to consider the relationship damage they were creating.  With this mandate, the RCMP operated as a military-style force to implement the government policy that shale gas development would go ahead despite community uproar across the province. The criminalisation of protesters and protectors was a choice made by RCMP commanders who instructed the forces on the line.

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6.   During the initial days of the corporation’s activity in Kent County (June 3 – June 20 2013), the RCMP appeared to be equally concerned with criminalizing both non-Indigenous and Indigenous activists, as they faced non-violent resistance from an united front of Acadians, Anglophones, Mi’kmaq, and other allies. However, by June 21, which is ironically National Aboriginal Day, the focus of the RCMP switched to total concern with Indigenous activists. The Commission has heard complaints from various individuals (both non-Indigenous and Indigenous) about this biased conduct, related to June 21 st and the following weeks and months.

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7.   This is a tightly networked rural area where most people know or are related to each other in some way, across all three founding cultural communities. Many of the protesters and protectors also have extended family members employed in the RCMP. Informally through community networks, it is our impression that many officers with local Kent County RCMP detachments were not in agreement with the way that the force was commanded to operate during these months. The voices and reasons of these local peace officers, as to why they disagreed, should have been heard and considered fully. That is the way good community policing is done.

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8.   The events of October 17 2013 were the most obvious breach of people’s  constitutional rights. Looking at an affidavit by Mark Lenehan, prepared by legal representatives for SWN Resources Canada on October 9 2013 (this has already been submitted to the Commission), we see quotes from an RCMP operational commander at the protest site. Sgt. Robichaud tells Mr. Lenehan that going into the 134 camp with Lenehan to serve papers re: the civil action injunction would amount to “inciting a riot” and “igniting a powder keg.” Ann Pohl (one of the contact people for this document) is one of the people specifically named in the injunction related to this affidavit. Prior to October 13 2013, when Ann visited the camp, she was assured by RCMP on duty at the police blockades (located at either end of the protest area) that she could enter the area without risking arrest. Specifically, she was told it was not the RCMP’s job to enforce a civil action injunction. Despite all the apparent tolerance and understanding by RCMP on duty during the weeks leading up to the October 17 commando raid on the protest site, we all saw what happened that day. On October 17, the RCMP’s callous disregard for human rights and safety of people was a stark contrast to their easy-going attitude in the weeks before. This deeply hardened community attitudes against the force.

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9.   There are a number of specific issues of great concern relative to the October 17 dawn RCMP commando raid on the protest camp. We will mention here just a few that must be acknowledged and addressed within any healing process:

♦  A sacred gift of Tobacco was provided by the RCMP to some of the Mi’kmaq
protectors the night before the raid. Everything that happened after was a
complete violation of the significance and protocols associated with this gifting.

♦  As it was being launched, all Kent County roads leading to the site were       closed EXCEPT the roads that go from Elsipogtog First Nation. To many         any people, this suggests that the RCMP were actually baiting First Nations people to come into the fracas that the RCMP troops were creating at the site, so that it would appear to the media and the outside world that the only people involved in the protest were Indigenous.

♦  Two very different stories were used to explain the rationale for the police assault. Early that morning, the RCMP brought in trucks equipped with powerful public address systems that were used to proclaim the civil law injunction as a pretext for the invasion. Yet, hours later, the RCMP commented they had to invade the protest camp because they had “intelligence” about a build-up of weapons on site and things were about to turn very dangerous. As there was almost no verifiable evidence of a weapons buildup, both excuses contradict what RCMP said a week earlier (see Lenehan affidavit). Dishonesty undermines public faith in the trustworthiness and credibility of our public servants.

♦  The burning of the police cars was major news across the country. We are all convinced that it was not done by anyone who was part of our united movement to protect the environment. Among all Kent County protestors and protectors, and our allies, there is a wide-spread belief that agents working for some arm of the RCMP or a sister federal force are responsible for the burning of the police cars.

Your Commission is well aware of this view, from complaints and comments you have heard: unusual RCMP activity immediately before the fires appeared; querying what accelerant could actually cause the fires to start so quickly; failure by RCMP to protect the crime scene of the burned cars; why the cars appeared to be lacking standard police communications equipment; the possibility that the cars were deliberately decommissioned at a specialty shop the week previous; the cars were left at the road for so long after the burning; knowledge that such provocative acts have been done before by the RCMP; and many more points.

The evidence points to this conclusion: the RCMP burned their own cars, or hired someone to do so, in order to affect public opinion. This is a kick in the teeth to the entire community, making those of us involved in non-violent resistance to protect our environment for future generations look like hoodlums.

♦  Many people continue to face charges and other legal and financial consequences as a result of this RCMP action. For some, this has been devastating. Some people pleaded guilty as they had no financial means to defend their rights through the justice system.

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Reinventing the Wheel: No Need for It!

At the heart of all the issues related to policing during these protests is ethics and fairness, as well as the use of tired old military strategies such as “divide and conquer.”
The RCMP have consistently attempted to insinuate that there are significant differences between those of us involved in the protests and protection actions, and that these differences follow cultural boundaries.

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There is no truth to this. It is an undeniable fact that greater than 90% of Kent County residents are united in our determination to protect the natural environment that sustains us all. Local environmental groups and communities did a research survey in the summer of 2013 to ascertain this fact. The findings were subsequently reported to the Kent County Regional Service Commission, who on July 18 2013 passed a resolution by a vote of 16-1 to ask the provincial government to stop the corporate exploration, until Kent residents can be provided with “a guarantee for our environment and we can inform citizens about what’s going on.”

We are now, in fact, more united than ever in our collective determination to protect this
territory we share in “Peace and Friendship.” Some of the community members being
interviewed by the Civilian Commission’s investigators were led into a field of inquiry about divisions between activists based on cultural heritage. We sincerely hope that these questions do not reflect biased attitudes by Civilian Commission personnel, and were asked only to determine the relative validity of information provided by the RCMP to the investigators and staff of the Civilian Commission.

That said, we have clearly stated above that we note that Indigenous protestors and
protectors were handled in a much rougher and meaner manner by RCMP than non-
Indigenous ones. Most of the issues that arose over this period in regards to the
Indigenous protectors and protesters are addressed in the final Report of the Ipperwash Inquiry, submitted by The Honourable Sidney B. Linden (Inquiry Commissioner) on May 30, 2007 to the Government of Ontario.

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Echoing specific points highlighted in that report, it was clear from the conduct of RCMP
officers here in Kent County that the members of the force were never briefed on why
people were engaged in these protests, occupations, and actions of non-violent civil
resistance. RCMP were also not made aware of the significance of the “colour of right”
(another point highlighted in the Ipperwash Inquiry report), in regards to the sincere
motivations of all protesters and protectors. People engaged in actions were making a
good faith assertion of their right (even obligation) to defend their water, land, air,
communities, and family health, because the threat being posed to these things would
result in their irretrievable loss. It is the fault of the provincial government that Kent County neighbours and allies felt this desperate, but the RCMP needs to be a peace force for all the people, not for the government.

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Proposals

We are suggesting the following as first steps towards opening a productive dialogue
between the RCMP and the traumatized and embittered communities in Kent County:

1.   Establish a small planning group mandated to initiate a healing process. It is
requested that there be a maximum of three RCMP members in this initial planning
group, of whom two would be Sergeant Jarrett Francis and Retired Corporal Chris
Ward. As well, the committee would include a minimum of three additional
community representatives from the Mi’kmaq community, and a total of three from
the Acadian and Anglophone communities. Participation in this planning group
would be entirely voluntary (no fees for services) although incidental expenses for
food, etc., would be covered by the Commission.

2.    This planning group will develop a plan to begin the healing process. Only after this
monumental task is accomplished can we begin to speak about building a positive
relationship.

3.   The sooner this planning group begins this work towards healing, the shorter the
path to a productive dialogue on relationship building.

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Here are two additional broader scope recommendations:

4.   Additionally, the Commission must recommend to the RCMP that a special team be
created to review the final Report of the Ipperwash Inquiry, and that the Inquiry’s
Recommendations be adapted for relevance across Canada, and used within the
RCMP at all levels for professional development and training for environmental and
land rights protests (exclusive of recommendations 16, 19 and 20, which pertain
specifically to Ipperwash matters).

5.   Treaty and indigenous rights education is essential for all personnel in the RCMP,
and must be led by Indigenous educators from the regions where the RCMP serve.

Please Contact Us for Further Discussion

If the Commission is interested in pursuing further consideration of this submission, you
are invited to contact these three individuals via the email address for the Kent County NB Chapter of the Council of Canadians at coc.kent.county.nb@gmail.com

♦    Ann Pohl, Bass River resident
♦    Kenneth Francis, Elsipogtog First Nation resident
♦    Roger Richard, St-Louis-de-Kent resident

KENT NOT FOR SHALEjason okay

bleeding protestor - was carrying water -- now arrestednew-brunswick-frack-off-rally

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