SIX NATIONS – John Simon and Paul Milliea, members of the Elsipogtog Mi’kmaq Nation of New Brunswick, were in Six Nations last Saturday to thank those who organized and participated in the sympathetic closure of Highway #6 last week. They also left a smaller flag to thank the Two Row Times for its extensive coverage of the RCMP raid on a group protesting the shale gas exploration on traditional Mi’kmaq land.
The impromptu presentation was made at Iroqrafts Gift Store, on Tuscarora Rd.
Melissa “Kentyohkwine” Monture, accepted a Mi’kmaq flag from Elsipogtog for her part in organizing the Highway #6 closure in support of the Mi’kmaq Warriors Society and their people.”
Last week, traffic was rerouted around the protest by OPP for several hours until the situation in New Brunswick had settled down.
“We appreciate all the support we are getting,” said Milliea. “The whole world is watching. But it was not covered well by the mainstream media. Those RCMP cars would never have been burned if they never started shooting at people, so people got really angry.
When you see your family being dragged to the ground, it’s like – OK so if you wanna be like that fine.”
Both men were on site when the RCMP raid took place and they saw a lot first hand. The most shocking thing for them was how fast a peaceful protest turned to chaos.
“It only took seconds after the police moved in,” said Simon.
“We were carrying on a peaceful protest and, for whatever reason, whoever made the decision to go in and enforce the injunction and once they made sure the SRN machines were safe they could have stopped right there,” he told the Two Row Times. “But instead, they moved in on the people throughout the day. They did a lot of damage that was unnecessary. We were very fortunate that nobody got seriously hurt or even killed. There was one young man that got hit with a rubber bullet in the leg and he was still walking around for a couple of days, and when they finally gave it medical attention they told him that they may have to amputate his leg. But they got the circulation going and removed the fluids and he’s OK now and won’t have to lose his leg.”
About the much-touted weapons the RCMP say found on the site after the raid, neither Simon nor Milliea say they saw any sign of weapons on the site since the protest began weeks before the raid.
“They say we had a lot of weapons,” said Milliea. “But the only weapons we had were drums, our feathers and our medicine, as far as I know, and those are the things they don’t show or talk about.
Those weapons they showed, I don’t know whose they would have been. They could have been hunting weapons for all I know. Even my eight-year-old son we went there with me a lot in the evenings and I never saw or nobody talked about weapons.”
He spoke of a school nearby the place the confrontations took place, which he says was not even considered by the RCMP before moving in on the, then, peaceful protesters.
“There is a school nearby where all that stuff happened, so when they planned their assault, they neglected to call the school, which was only a few yards away,” says Milliea. “The school itself went on lockdown so a lot of parents went top pick up their kids because they were worried. Police shooting their guns and whatever, even if it’s rubber bullets. I’ve seen people that got hit with those things. One guy I seen got a pretty nasty bruise.”
Milliea works in child and family services and has been there for a number of years.
Milliea and Simon left the still tense Elsipogtog community soon after the hostilities ceded to come to Brantford to receive a Masters in Social Services from Wilfred Laurier University, Friday.
“There were five Mi’kmaq all together that graduated, all with Masters in social work,” said Milliea. “I think there were 14 of us altogether who completed it and five were from Elsipogtog. I’m very proud of that.”
While in the area, Simon and Milliea decided to come to Six Nations with their community’s thanks before heading back home.
In assessing Elsipogtog after the raid, Milliea can see he will be a very busy man for the next while.
“There is still a lot of emotions,” he says. “People walking around carrying their anger. There are a lot of young people in particular in need of more (counseling) services where they can release those emotions. There are still about four people in jail and bail hearings have taken a long time.”