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Potentially damaging Jackpine oilsands mine expansion OK’d by Ottawa – Edmonton – CBC News

Potentially damaging Jackpine oilsands mine expansion OK’d by Ottawa – Edmonton – CBC News.

Shell Canada’s Jackpine oilsands mine expansion plan has received the go-ahead from Ottawa, despite the environment minister’s view that it’s “likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects.”

In a statement late Friday, environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq concluded that the effects from the 100,000-barrel-per-day expansion are “justified in the circumstances.”

The nearby Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation has said the project will violate several federal laws covering fisheries and species at risk, as well as treaty rights.

They said they had received so little information on how Shell plans to live up to conditions imposed on it by a federal-provincial panel that they asked Ottawa for a 90-day delay on the decision – originally expected Nov. 6 – to work some of those issues through.

They were granted a 35-day delay, but Friday’s decision didn’t even wait until that period was up.

Allan Adam, chief of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, was outraged that the federal decision came as the government was still supposed to be in talks with the band about how the project’s effects were to be mitigated.

“They just kept us in the loop and strung us along and played games with us,” he said. “To them it’s all a game.”

Although all 88 conditions the review panel placed on the project are now legally binding, Adam said neither the government nor the company has explained how those conditions will be met.

Adam said the government’s move to go ahead despite the serious environmental consequences of the project leave the band little choice.

edm-allan-adamAllan Adam, chief of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, says the government’s decision has left the band with few options. ((CBC))

“This government has to realize we’ll be holding them accountable,” he said. “We’ll be looking at legal action and we’ll pursue this through legal action.”

Greenpeace speaks out against expansion

Greenpeace Canada issued a statement accusing the Harper government of putting the short term interests of oil companies ahead of environmental protection and First Nations treaty rights.

“Canada would be much better off diversifying its economy, investing inrenewables, green jobs and projects that get us out of this madness not deeper into it,” the statement said.

“How many more extreme weather events will it take till our Prime Minister realizes this is one problem he can’t mine his way out of?”

The Jackpine expansion would allow Shell to increase its bitumen output by 50 per cent to 300,000 barrels a day.

“We’re reviewing the recommendations and proposed conditions attached to the approval,” said Shell spokesman David  Williams.

Williams added Shell must consult with the minority partners in  the project – Chevron and Marathon – before making a formal decision to proceed.

Review panel suggests compensation for ‘irreversible damage’

A review panel concluded last July that the project was in the public interest but warned that it would result in severe  and irreversible damage so great that new protected areas should be created to compensate.

The review concluded that the project would mean the permanent loss of thousands of hectares of wetlands, which  could harm migratory birds, caribou and other wildlife and wipe out traditional plants used for generations.

It also said Shell’s plans for mitigation are unproven and warned that some impacts would probably approach levels that the  environment couldn’t support.

Shell has said Alberta’s new management plan for the oilsands area will provide more concrete data to assess and mitigate environmental impacts.

The company has purchased about 730 hectares of former cattle pasture in northwestern Alberta to help compensate for the 8,500 hectares of wetland that would be forever lost.

 

The Ring of Fire’s Future Is Now a Burning Question | Sunny Freeman

The Ring of Fire’s Future Is Now a Burning Question | Sunny Freeman.

Mining giant Cliffs Natural Resources’ decision to halt work on the largest project in northern Ontario’s Ring of Fire region has aroused a sudden interest in the lumbering development.

The opposition at Queen’s Park pounced to lay blame on the province for the squandered opportunity.

Financial analysts scurried to advise clients on what it means for their shares. And usually blasé news outlets called on pundits to discuss whether the loss of the U.S. mining giant was a death knell for the much-hyped but little-understood development.

The biggest player in the Ring of Fire, a 5,000 square kilometre tract of land in Ontario’s Far North that is said to hold a potential $50 billion in mineral deposits, announced late Wednesday it is halting work on its $3.3 billion chromite project indefinitely, blaming, for the most part, an “uncertain timeline.”

If Cliffs’ decision to stop development is the death of that high stakes mining discovery, it was anything but a sudden one.

This past summer, I was one of just two reporters covering a historic three-day meeting of the Matawa First Nations, a group that represents many of the communities that are affected by Ring of Fire development. As part of my reporting for HuffPost’s Staking Claim series, I’ve spoken to the major players in the First Nations community, in government and from the mining companies involved.

They all saw this coming. And none are panicking that the Ring of Fire has been extinguished.

Any insider could see the signs: the many stalls, delays and conflicts between miners and First Nations; miners and government; and government and First Nations.

Just about the only thing the players have agreed upon is the need to “get it right.” The problem is no one has agreed on what that means.

Cliffs has been telegraphing its frustration with the development process every time I have spoken with execs over the past year. It has warned, with growing severity, that it might be “forced” to pull out of the Black Thor chromite project if it doesn’t see better progress. It said so in June, when it halted its Environmental Assessment over a number of uncertainties, and it said so even louder in September when the province denied it the rightto build a road on land held by a rival miner.

For the debt-strapped company struggling with funding expansion in an era of low metal prices, the choice to stop work in the Ring of Fire was simple math. Patricia Perisco of Cliffs explained that projects compete internally for funding and Black Thor was a tough sell.

The U.S. mining giant has called the region unprecedented both in the opportunity to open a new mining region and in the scale of the challenges the company faced.

When Ontario announced earlier this month its idea for a loosely formed development corporation to bring the players together, it was too late. Cliffs didn’t even hold an initial meeting on the topic — it wanted out. And yet, it hasn’t ruled out getting back in, either. The company will continue to talk with First Nations and government (whom it will no doubt lobby for its preferred transportation route).

Cliffs may be ready to re-enter the region by the time Matawa and Ontario finally reach agreement on a number of preliminary issues, which could still be years away.

For its part, the Ontario government, which stands to gain billions in royalties from the potential development, moved swiftly to assure would-be investors the province is still open for business and that the potential in the Ring of Fire is alive.

But it has been anything but swift when it comes to action. More than a decade after discovering riches in the frozen muskeg of the north, no one has been able to penetrate either the earth or ill-defined regulatory walls.

Opposition parties that have for years blamed the government for mismanaging and underestimating the importance of the project used Cliffs’ announcement as an “I told you so” moment.

The government’s nonchalant attitude about the potential loss of the biggest player in the region belies the fact that the piece of the royalty pie it has to divvy up with First Nations just shrunk substantially. There may still be some 20 other miners in the region, but Cliffs’ decision is like Wal-Mart pulling out of a major retail development: it doesn’t mean the project won’t go ahead but it puts the onus on a number of independent boutiques whose pocketbooks are considerably smaller.

As for the people who will be most directly affected by the project, the First Nations communities surrounding the area, they are neither surprised nor fazed by Cliffs’ decision.In fact, they welcome it. They’ve been on this land since time immemorial, have been the victims of development for centuries, and are in no rush for a snap decision or quick resolution.

The people of the Matawa First Nations are ambivalent about the Ring of Fire. They have deep concerns about the impact a new mining region will have on their pristine land, on the animals and fish on which they rely and on their way of life which involves a deep connection to the land.

In Webequie, the fly-in reserve some 500 kilometres north of Thunder Bay that is closest to the Ring of Fire, animals are already fleeing from exploration activities to its east.

There is a tempered enthusiasm toward the jobs, roads and prosperity they’ve been promised, but they’re also jaded following years of broken promises. One young man in Webequie beginning a heavy equipment training program with the possibility of a Ring of Fire job had already trained as a firefighter, land staker and diamond driller with the promise of a steady income. He is still unemployed, like 70 per cent of the reserve.

Matawa’s CEO David Paul Achneepineskum said this week the setback will give First Nations more time to assess the environmental impacts of the development as well as prepare their people for the opportunities it may present.

The tribal council’s chief negotiator Bob Rae made it clear in a tweet that he’s hellbent on pursuing a fair deal “to end (a) cycle of poverty for First Nations,” even with the biggest player gone.

Still, with pressure from Cliffs removed as an impetus to reach a deal quickly, negotiations with the province risk losing focus and dragging on longer.

While no one denies that Cliffs’ move is a game changer, the looming question is whether it’s a game ender.

The First Nations, government and industry players I spoke with answer with a resounding “no.” But industry-watcher and Native legal rights expert Bill Gallagher says their stances are either spin or delusion. The Ring of Fire, he says, is in the “project death zone” and “the biggest missed opportunity on Ontario’s road to resources in a generation.”

Fault will inevitably be assigned: was it that First Nations were “anti-development”? Was the province too slow or too unorganized to act? Or did the miner misjudge how quickly they could put a shovel in the ground?

Any attempt to analyze what went wrong, and whether it can be put right, must go far beyond those surface level questions.

It is a wake-up call that should be answered not with dwelling on what went awry, but instead determining, once and for all, what it actually means to “get it right” in the Ring of Fire.

 

Canada, Aboriginal Tension Erupting Over Resource Development, Study Suggests

Canada, Aboriginal Tension Erupting Over Resource Development, Study Suggests. (source)

canada aboriginals

Canada has been singled out as the country with the most risk of conflict with aboriginal communities in a new study examining treatment of indigenous rights and resource development around the world. (CP) | CP
Canada has been singled out as the country with the most risk of conflict with aboriginal communities in a new study examining treatment of indigenous rights and resource development around the world.

“Canada is a developed country and it is having an implosion of the sort that we’ve only seen in the developing countries,” said Rebecca Adamson, president and co-founder of First Peoples’ Worldwide, the group that conducted the study.

“We’ve always seen this erupt when a government refuses to be clear in upholding indigenous land tenure.”

The Indigenous Rights Risk Report studied 52 U.S. resource companies and 370 projects around the world, including 16 companies and 76 projects active in Canada. The aim of the survey is to assess how likely it is that conflict with indigenous communities could result in costly shutdowns.

Canada is home to six of the 21 projects deemed to be at highest risk of collapse according to the group’s analysis — more than any other country. Countries such as Argentina, Indonesia and Ghana are its peers on the list.

The Canadian government is “operating like a third-world country,” Adamson said, adding that its approach to indigenous rights more closely mimics the Philippines and Brazil than the U.S and Australia.

Signs are pointing to an increasing number of protests and possible violence in the country, she added.

First Nations have been on a legal winning streak in Canada, with nearly 200 court victories recognizing their right to be consulted — and in some cases accommodated.

But companies operating in Canada have no clear regulatory guidelines for how to deal with aboriginal communities, creating an uncertain business climate.

“Canada is caught in a moment of schizophrenia because the Canadian court systems are upholding these cases the way that would be expected from all of the developed countries that uphold the rule of law,” Adamson said.

The Harper government’s stance on First Nations and resource development has been called into question in recent years, particularly in the wake of controversial changes to native rights in Bill C-45, the Idle No More protests and after violence erupted at a protest against fracking in New Brunswick this month.

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Elsipogtog First Nation Protest Fracking Projects

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THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
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Canada’s risk level was graded three out of five — medium risk — higher than other industrialized countries like the U.S., New Zealand and Australia, which had a risk level of two.

Canada’s risk level started at a two when the study began two years ago, but after a series of flare-ups the group moved its risk factor higher citing an inconsistent enforcement of indigenous rights.

The group said Canadian projects scored so poorly partly because of the government’s failure to uphold its obligations to First Nations, which is in turn inflicting financial and reputational damage on companies trying to do business in the country.

“The Canadian government may be pro-business but its policies towards First Nations will have very anti-business results,” Adamson said.

“You can already see this in the fact it has the highest number of risky sites. Eventually the companies pull out.”

Houston-based Southwestern Energy’s project in New Brunswick made headlines earlier this month when violence broke out between police and First Nations protesters. That project was ranked highest of the Canadian projects with a risk rating of 4.2 out of 5, the same score as a project in Nigeria.

The company has said the blockades have cost it as much as $60,000 per day. It’s a consequence the report said shows why it makes good business sense to respect indigenous rights and work with their communities and a perfect example of what happens when governments ignore aboriginal sovereignty.

The report concluded that Southwestern “executives were ill-prepared and uninformed for how First Nations in Canada can impact their operations, thus leaving investors and shareholders at risk.”

Cliffs Natural Resources oft-delayed chromite project in Ontario’s Ring of Fire region also ranked highly on the list, with a score of 4.1 out of 5.

The surrounding First Nations in northern Ontario have many concerns about the impact of a giant mining development on their land and traditional way of life. They say an environmental review of the project was too weak.

Cliffs has cited frustration with hold-ups from government and First Nations fordelaying and potentially cancelling the project, saying if it is forced to walk away, it will send a bad signal about Canada’s mining climate.

Some ever-controversial oilsands projects rounded out the riskiest Canadian projects.Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline, the Apache/Chevron/EOG Pacific Trails Pipeline, as well as Murphy Oil’s Alberta Bakken project and its Peace River Oil Sands project were assigned a risk rating of four.

Canada’s oil industry looks to governments to settle issues on land claims, treaty rights, traditional territories, consultation processes and royalty/revenue-sharing positions, said Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers spokeswoman Geraldine Anderson, adding CAPP wouldn’t comment specifically on the report.

The clash between resource extraction and indigenous rights is expected to become more pronounced in the coming years as indigenous people increasingly see their rights enshrined at national and international levels and exercise them more effectively.

At the same time, a shrinking number of available resource discoveries means companies are pushing into more remote regions and Indigenous lands.

The study found that most of the 52 companies studied were ill-prepared to engage and work with indigenous people — a whopping 90 per cent of them had no clear indigenous policy at all.

The report says the moral imperative alone has not been effective in forcing companies and governments to respect indigenous rights. The group aims to show companies that there are good financial reasons to accommodate aboriginal communities, namely avoiding protests, bad press and legal battles.

 

Line 9 protests see hundreds converge in downtown Toronto – Toronto – CBC News

Line 9 protests see hundreds converge in downtown Toronto – Toronto – CBC News. (source)

What was to be the final day of hearings in Toronto on the controversial Line 9 pipeline was cancelled Saturday, as hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets to oppose energy company Enbridge’s plan to reverse the oil pipe and increase its capacity to carry crude.

 

Enbridge Pipeline Hearings 20131019Protesters demonstrating against Enbridge’s application to reverse it’s Line 9 pipeline rally outside the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on Saturday, where the National Energy Board was originally scheduled to hold hearings. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

“They try to make it seem like we’re not going to have a spill. And it’s very likely that a spill will happen somewhere along this line,” said protester Nigel Barriffe, who lives near Line 9 in northwest Toronto.

Enbridge was to make its closing submissions to the National Energy Board on its plan to reverse the line, so it would flow from Southern Ontario to Montreal, and increase its capacity to move crude oil.

But the National Energy Boardannounced late Friday that Saturday’s hearings were off, saying the way the previous day’s hearings ended raised concerns about the security of participants. Protesters were out in force for Friday’s panel hearing, but there was no violence during that demonstration or Saturday’s rally.

On Friday, protesters, many gathered under the banner of the Idle No More movement, first milled outside the Metro Toronto Convention Centre to rally against the Line 9 pipeline and to show solidarity with demonstrations at New Brunswick’s Elsipogtog First Nation against a shale-gas project. They were eventually allowed in slowly, after the NEB determined that there were enough seats.

Line 9 protesters in TorontoSaturday’s demonstration saw a crowd of hundreds of people winding through downtown Toronto. (CBC)

After an anti-Line 9 deputant completed her official submissions to the NEB panelists, the demonstrators began chanting and moving up to the front of the room toward the panel.

 

There was a brief scuffle with security. Then the NEB panel members were escorted by security and police out of the room, as was an Enbridge representative.

The NEB didn’t provide a date for when Enbridge will present the closing arguments that had been slated for Saturday.

Protest organizer Amanda Lickers said the NEB should have found a way to let Enbridge make its case in support of the reversal.

“I think that if they were really concerned about security, they could have still done it over the web…. There could have been ways to make the presentation happen.”

Critics cite environmental risks

The panel heard this week from interveners stating the reversal would put First Nations communities at risk, threaten water supplies and could endanger vulnerable species in ecologically sensitive areas.

Jan Morrissey of a Toronto residents’ group showed up early Saturday morning for the hearing, only to learn it was cancelled.

Morrissey said she’s disappointed she won’t get to hear Enbridge’s final reply to arguments made to the board by critics of the reversal.

Enbridge Pipeline Hearings 20131018The day before, protesters overtook the public hearings on Line 9, as NEB panel members were escorted out by security and police. (Mark Blinch/The Canadian Press)

“It’s sort of like reading a book and not getting to see the last chapter,” she said.

The pipeline reversal would increase the line’s capacity to 300,000 barrels of crude oil per day, up from the current 240,000 barrels.

Enbridge has also asked for permission to move different types of oil, including a heavier form of crude from the Alberta oilsands.

Opponents say the crude Enbridge wants to transport is more corrosive and will stress the aging infrastructure and increase the chance of a leak.

But Enbridge has said what will flow through the line will not be a raw oilsands product — although there will be a mix of light crude and processed bitumen.

Line 9 originally shuttled oil from Sarnia, Ont., to Montreal but was reversed in the late 1990s in response to market conditions to pump imported crude westward.

Enbridge is now proposing to flow oil back eastward to service refineries in Ontario and Quebec.

The company has experienced several devastating spills on its pipelines, including one in Michigan that leaked 3.3 million litres of oil into the Kalamazoo River and has already cost the company more than $1 billion. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency believes there is at least 684,000 litres of bitumen still in the river.

 

Rexton Protest In N.B. Sparks Renewal Of Idle No More (PHOTOS)

Rexton Protest In N.B. Sparks Renewal Of Idle No More (PHOTOS). (source)

HALIFAX – Justice Minister Peter MacKay is calling for an end to any confrontations and the resumption of talks to resolve a dispute over shale gas exploration in eastern New Brunswick.

MacKay was briefed early Friday on the incidents a day earlier near Rexton where the RCMP arrested at least 40 people during protests that saw police vehicles set on fire and the Mounties allege they were the target of Molotov cocktails.

“There’s obviously a need to respect the law and to avoid violence and return to discussions,” he said at a roundtable discussion on justice issues in Halifax.

“That is what we’re all encouraging and hoping for, but when violence erupts you can expect the police are there to keep the peace and to protect citizens.”

The Mounties say the arrests were made after Molotov cocktails were thrown at officers and police vehicles were torched when officers began enforcing an injunction to end a weeks-long demonstration.

Const. Jullie Rogers-Marsh said at least five RCMP vehicles were destroyed after they were set ablaze and at least one shot was fired by someone other than a police officer at the site of a protest.

Protesters were arrested for firearms offences, threats, intimidation, mischief and violating the court-ordered injunction.

Rogers-Marsh said police decided to enforce the injunction because threats had been made against private security guards at the site on Wednesday night. She wouldn’t reveal what tactics police were using to contain the crowd and refused to comment on reports that officers had fired rubber bullets.

Robert Levi, a councillor with the Elsipogtog First Nation, said police pepper-sprayed dozens of people after he arrived at a protest site in the Rexton area with the chief and council on Thursday morning.

The RCMP blocked Route 134 on Sept. 29 after a protest there began spilling onto the road. Protesters subsequently cut down trees that were placed across another part of the road, blocking the entrance to the compound.

In other parts of the country, demonstrations were held to support the protests in Rexton, with more scheduled for Friday.

The mayor of the village of Perth-Andover in western New Brunswick said about three dozen protesters from the Tobique First Nation blocked traffic on the Trans-Canada Highway for several hours Thursday before ending their protest at 8 p.m.

Peter Ritchie said truck traffic was backed up for several kilometres on both sides of the highway.

In Winnipeg, about 50 protesters disrupted traffic at Portage and Main in support of the Rexton protesters. The demonstration was relatively peaceful, but protesters did burn a Canadian flag before making their way to the RCMP building on Portage Avenue.

In southern Ontario, provincial police said 30 to 40 protesters shut down Highway 6 on Thursday between the communities of Hagersville and Caledonia. A local news agency, Turtle Island News, said the protest by Six Nations members was also staged in solidarity with the protests in eastern New Brunswick.

Levi said he expects a meeting Friday between New Brunswick Premier David Alward and Elsipogtog Chief Arren Sock in Fredericton.

Levi and Sock were among the dozens of people arrested Thursday. The protesters, who include members of Elsipogtog, want SWN Resources to stop seismic testing and leave the province.

Alward has also said he wants a peaceful resolution, adding that he still believes a shale gas industry can be developed in the province both safely and in a sustainable way.

In a statement issued Thursday, New Brunswick’s Green party leader said Alward has missed an opportunity to reset his government’s relationship with First Nations in New Brunswick.

“The people of Elsipogtog and local residents of Kent County were simply trying to protect their right to safe water and the well-being of their communities through peaceful civil disobedience,” David Coon said. “Their cause is just and deserves respect. The decision to respond with force will deepen the conflict.”

SWN Resources issued a statement Friday saying it is in the early stages of exploration in New Brunswick.

“Our employees are dedicated to the safety of people and the environment, as well as ensuring we are in full compliance with all regulations,” it said.

 

Most RCMP withdraw after shale gas clash in Rexton – New Brunswick – CBC News

Most RCMP withdraw after shale gas clash in Rexton – New Brunswick – CBC News. (source)

The mood has changed at a standoff that turned violent today in Rexton, N.B., between shale gas protesters and the RCMP.

The majority of police at the scene left around 7 p.m., to cheers from a crowd of protesters.

John Levi, a First Nations chief on the scene, had earlier spoken to RCMP officers — trying to reach an agreement on ending the standoff.

It is not known what was said but, at the end of the conversation some 40 officers, who were wearing shields and helmets, left. About a dozen remained.

Levi later said that First Nations may have “lost the battle” referring to the fact that SWN Resources, the company at the centre of the conflict, has not agreed to stop shale gas seismic testing, as the protesters demand.

But “we have not lost the war,” he added.

Earlier in the day, protesters and RCMP clashed, leading to at least five police vehicles being set on fire and the arrest of a First Nations chief.

‘We urge all sides not to resort to violence as history has proven these tactics are not productive.’— Chief Gabriel Atwin, Kingsclear First Nation

In a news release, the RCMP said more than 40 protesters were arrested for various offences including firearms offences, uttering threats, intimidation, mischief and for refusing to abide by a court injunction.

The protesters arrested were taken to three different communities where they are expected in court Friday morning around 9:30 to face charges. Police spread the arrested protesters out in an effort to prevent the courthouses being overwhelmed by protest supporters during the arraignments.

The RCMP said at least one shot was fired by someone other than police and that Molotov cocktails had been thrown at police, while at least five RCMP vehicles were destroyed by fire. Police also investigated suspected explosive devices at the scene.

The clashes started at about 1 p.m. after police fired pepper spray at the protesters, who were trying to push through the police line.

RCMP spokeswoman Const. Jullie Rogers-Marsh said that no rubber bullets were used but that RCMP members used “sock rounds” — also known as bean bag rounds, which are a type of non-lethal ammunition — on two occasions during the clash in an attempt to defuse the situation.

CBC reporter, Jennifer Choi, said thick black smoke was billowing from the scene, and she could hear popping and see sparks in at least one of the flaming vehicles.

It is not known whether ammunition was in the vehicles. Bystanders backed away from the fire as a precaution, Choi said.

First Nations leader arrested

T.J. Burke, the lawyer for the Elsipogtog First Nation, confirmed Chief Aaron Sock was among those arrested in the clash. He and a few of his band council members were released a few hours after their arrests.

Sock is the leader of the band that has beenblockading Route 134 near Rexton since Sept. 30.

On Oct. 1, Sock issued an eviction notice to SWN Resources of Canada. His band and his band council planned to pass a resolution preventing the government and shale gas companies from continuing their work by reclaiming all unoccupied reserve land and giving it back to First Nations.

It remained unclear exactly which land is involved, and how the band council planned to take it back, but Sock said getting SWN to remove its equipment would be a start.

Sock said earlier that, for centuries, the British Crown claimed to be holding the land in trust for his people, but since the land is being badly mismanaged, First Nations people are taking it back.

The road between Rexton and Highway 11 has been the scene of the protest, involving a coalition of natives and non-natives opposed to shale gas exploration.

Protesters moved into the area on Sept. 30, initially establishing a barricade to the staging area used by SWN Resources Canada to park its exploration vehicles and equipment.

The protest progressed to the point where barricades were also established on the road, preventing traffic from going through.

SWN Resources went to the Court of Queen’s Bench and successfully sought an injunction to end the protest.

During a hearing, court was told SWN Resources is losing $60,000 every day its seismic exploration trucks remain blockaded in the compound off Route 134.

NB Shale Gas Protest 20131017RCMP in Rexton, N.B. say at least five police vehicles were set ablaze during a protest against shale gas exploration turned violent Thursday. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

The injunction authorized police to arrest and remove anyone contravening the order to allow traffic to pass on the highway. However, with negotiations taking place between the two sides, the RCMP didn’t immediately enforce the injunction.

On Friday, the injunction was extended. A single lane of Route 134 was subsequently reopened.

The RCMP moved in on the protesters on Route 134 in Rexton this morning.

RCMP notified the public at 7:45 a.m. about the closure of Route 134. A subsequent notice at 8:21 a.m. indicated Highway 11 was closed between Rexton and Sainte-Anne-de-Kent, and that delays could be expected.

The RCMP said the court injunction remains in effect and anyone who violates its conditions can be arrested and charged.

Video taken by protesters that was submitted to CBC shortly after the police started enforcing the injunction shows officers with dogs moving toward the protest encampment on the side of road. Protesters are yelling obscenities at police and inform them elders and children are present.

Meanwhile, an Anglophone North school district notice on its website said three schools in the area were open but under lockdown as a precaution. Around noon, the board announced Rexton Elementary, Eleanor W. Graham Middle School and Bonar Law Memorial High School would close for the day, and students would be sent home.

“Safety and security is paramount for our students and staff,” said the school district’s public notice.

N.B. chiefs call for peace

National Chief for the Assembly of First Nations Shawn Atleo released a statement Thursday night, pledging support for the peaceful protest involving Elsipogtog First Nation.

“Please know that we — and First Nations across the country — stand proudly in solidarity with you and your community. Most importantly, the safety and security of our citizens is our foremost concern at this time,’ he said.

Chief Gabriel Atwin said earlier in the day members of Kingsclear First Nation were demonstrating peacefully on Route 105.

In a news release, Atwin said the Assembly of First Nations in New Brunswick “strongly condemns the acts of aggression that have taken place today within the Mi’kmaq traditional territory near Elsipogtog. We urge all sides not to resort of violence as history has proven these tactics are not productive.”

Atwin noted, however, that for the past two years, First Nations in New Brunswick have tried to work within the confines of “a restrictive, compartmentalized consultation process” when it comes to seismic testing in the province.

  • An RCMP cruiser and another unmarked vehicle burn near the shale gas protest in Rexton, N.B.
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He said the whole process is “completely unworkable because it runs counter to our customs and traditions.”

In the same release Assembly Co-chair Chief George Ginnish said the consultation process should include “conversation on potential impacts to our constitutionally protected rights, and provide options to mitigate these dangers.”

Ginnish has called on “an immediate end to the violence by all involved, to restart the process taking into account all perspectives in New Brunswick and the inalienable rights of aboriginals.”

Politicians in New Brunswick have also spoken out about the protest.

Opposition Leader Brian Gallant released a statement calling on protesters to respect the injunction and that he hopes for a peaceful resolution.

“I witnessed the protest first-hand this morning. There is much angst and anxiety at the protest site and in the surrounding communities. The dialogue must immediately resume in order to resolve the differences that have arisen,” he said.

New Brunswick Premier David Alward’s office has not returned calls from the CBC, but Alward posted a statement on the government’s website saying he is “deeply troubled that violence has erupted on Route 134 near Rexton.”

“While we respect and defend the right of individuals to protest peacefully, we cannot endorse or tolerate unlawful activity,” he said.

Alward also said the government of New Brunswick will do everything in its power to bring about a peaceful resolution.

Related articles

Idle No More prepares for day of action – Canada – CBC News

Idle No More prepares for day of action – Canada – CBC News. (FULL ARTICLE)

The Idle No More movement has plans for over 63 protests and actions across Canada today, with solidarity events expected in over 12 countries.

The day should indicate whether the movement still has the energy and intensity it displayed last winter.

Idle No More began a year ago with an email exchange between four women in Saskatchewan, growing very quickly into one of the biggest protest movements Canada has seen in years. Idle No More uses social media as a key organizing tool, as it has for today’s events.

Oct. 7 was chosen because that’s the date 250 years ago that King George III signed the Royal Proclamation, which, in its concluding paragraphs, sets out policy for the Crown’s relationship with the “nations or tribes of Indians” and the lands “reserved to them.”…

 

Oil Spill Cold Lake: First Nation Says 6 Sites At Oilsands Project Leaking Bitumen, Up From 4

A beach after an oil spill.

A beach after an oil spill. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

Oil Spill Cold Lake: First Nation Says 6 Sites At Oilsands Project Leaking Bitumen, Up From 4.

 

 

Hungry aboriginal people subject of experiments, paper finds – Manitoba – CBC News

Hungry aboriginal people subject of experiments, paper finds – Manitoba – CBC News.

 

Half of First Nations children live in poverty – Canada – CBC News

Half of First Nations children live in poverty – Canada – CBC News.

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