FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Elsipogtog, Signigtog District of Mi’kmaki, October 18, 2013 – Thursday, October 17, 2013 was an ugly day in the history of the province of New Brunswick.
Our people, trying to protect what little we have. were subjected to the presence of hundreds of police, including heavily armed tactical forces; people were pepper sprayed and shot with rubber bullets and threatened with dogs; many, including Elders, were pulled by the hair and man-handled; dozens were arrested, including Chief Aaron Sock and several Councillors.
Still, for the Chief and Council of the Elsipogtog First Nation, the only path forward is peaceful insistence on respect for our Aboriginal rights and title and for our Treaties of Peace and Friendship with the Crown. This means respect for our lands and resources. It means that we must have meaningful involvement at the strategic planning level in decisions on resources and development, with a real possibility of changing the policies and choices made, in this case as regards shale gas development. “Consultation” with no prospect of changing the choices already made by the province is unconstitutional and illegal, as are the permits given to SWN Resources Canada Inc.
Chief and Council of the Elsipogtog First Nation wish to state clearly that guns and bombs, if any, have no place in our peaceful efforts. The destruction of police vehicles was unfortunate and unnecessary.
Meeting late last night in Fredericton with New Brunswick RCMP Commanding Officer Roger Brown, Chief Sock and several members of Council made all of these points very clear. In spite of the events of the day, our discussions were respectful and constructive,
A peaceful path forward still exists, but the situation is extremely volatile. The Chief and Council of the Elsipogtog First Nation thank all of those who have expressed their support, especially the First Nations of New Brunswick and across Canada. We urge that all manifestations of support be peaceful, do not block roads and simply aim at respectfully communicating the First Nation point of view on our rights.
Now what is required is dialogue and confidence building. The process will not be quick or easy. We need a period of calm of at least a month without heavy police presence and without seismic work by SWN in order give a real chance for talks with the Government of New Brunswick to succeed.
For the Elsipogtog First Nation this will require insistence on peaceful protest and dialogue. The RCMP will have to demonstrate restraint. The Government of New Brunswick will have to take substantial steps to honour our Treaties with the Crown and our rights to lands and resources.
As a first step, Chief and Council intend to meet later today with Premier David Alward. But this will only be a beginning of what must be a peaceful, respectful and deep dialogue about Mi’kmaq rights and the use and development of lands and resources.
Chief Arren Sock, cell 506-523-8705
Councillor Craig Sock, cell 506-521-0926
Councillor Robert Levy, cell 506-521-1128