In the latest turn of events in the movement against ‘fracking’ in New Brunswick, Mi’kmaq warriors were swarmed, arrested, and charged by the RCMP for their role in the environmental struggle that is uniting Onkwehon:we people of the Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, and Passamaquoddy nations alongside people of the Acadian nation and other Maritimers.
Jim Pictou was charged with uttering threats, while Annie Clair and Susanne Patles were charged with mischief after their arrests over the last two weeks. Pictou and Clair were picked up on their way to speak out at a meeting in Moncton of Indian Act chiefs, while Patles was swarmed and charged by the RCMP at the first court appearance for Pictou and Clair.
In the wake of their arrests, Pictou called upon the Canadian military to intervene on the side of the Mi’kmaq against the RCMP and its harassment of the three arrestees.
A full interview with Mi’kmaq Warrior Jim Pictou conducted by TRT correspondent Steve Da Silva is available on here:
In an interview with the Two Row Times on September 20, Jim Pictou – who is the cousin of the American Indian Movement member Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash who was murdered in 1975 – said that according to the 1752 Peace and Friendship Treaty with the British “we have the right to protect and serve our land. The Queen of England is supposed to protect Aboriginal people from any harm. If we ever feel in danger by the Canadian government, we should be able to call on the Queen.”
The arrest of the warriors occurred days before the expected return of Southwest Energy (SWN) to the province after a summer of tense encounters and growing resistance. A Facebook event was created last week calling upon anti-frackers to evict SWN once again. By late July, negotiations between the RCMP and Elsipogtog First Nation officials concluded with an agreement that SWN would be permitted to detonate eleven shot holes along the contested Line 5 route; that 25 of 35 arrestees over the course of the summer would have their charges dropped; and that a break in construction would take place until mid-September.
Pictou, who says that the Mi’kmaq Warrior Society traces back to Oka and before, told the Two Row Times that “we don’t recognize the [Mi’kmaq] Grand Council or the Indian agents, which are the Chiefs. We’ve been fighting against them the whole time… The Warrior Society is with treaty people: we recognize the treaty, we defend the treaty. That’s our right.”
The New Brunswick government is allowing South-Western Energy (SWN), a Houston-based corporation, to explore some 2.5 million acres of lands for the purpose of shale gas extraction through hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”. Fracking involves drilling wells that fracture shale rock beds and the pumping of millions of gallons of pressurized fresh water and toxic chemicals, including known carcinogens and neurotoxins, into the well to bring up the gas.
Fracking is know to cause earthquakes, contaminate water, and disrupt animal life, while millions of liters of fresh water become contaminated with toxic chemicals, petroleum by-products and ionizing radiation that is brought up from deep within the earth.
According to the group, Sacred Fire – People United Against Fracking, “some 7 million liters of dirty frackwater has already been dumped into the ocean through municipal sewer systems in Windsor, Nova Scotia” from other fracking projects.
Although the current New Brunswick premier David Alward was elected on a platform that would ban fracking, Alward changed his position after he was elected.
Sacred Fire reports that “The people of Penobsquis are now trucking in their water – many of their wells have caved in or dried up and homes have started sinking into the ground after seismic testing. Insurance companies will not cover the damage claims.”
Pictou told the Two Row Times that “I don’t understand how the government is allowed to sanction the poisoning of our water. Under the treaty rights, we are supposed to be able to protect our waters. But with these corporations, we’re losing everything. So we have to stand up as one and unite across nations.”