Peace, friendship and bravery meet the colonial shale gas complex

Written by Willi Nolan on July 26, 2014


Still from Michael Shade’s film, Nowhere Else to Go. The still captures the Oct. 17, 2013 raid by the RCMP on those blocking SWN’s shale gas equipment on a highway in Rexton, NB.

The police made us braver. Warriors showed their love. Elders stayed, and their stories helped the people to keep going. Women held onto the sacred with their songs and prayers. The youth held onto the truth and received the gift of hope. No one will ever take away our power again.

We are stronger now. We still cry and chant outside police stations. We still keep an eye on each other and we keep watch for signs of the destroyers. And something miraculous took place on June 26, 2014.

In a quiet court clerk’s office in Saint John, New Brunswick, an act of Peace and Friendship was committed. The descendents of First Peoples, settlers and the sixties brought truth to power to be tested under the Rule of Law. Weightily armed with a very long list of violations of the rights and responsibilities of citizens of Wabanaki Confederacy territory, one can’t help but notice their fresh and truly unified approach.

It is clear that their timing is perfect. At that same moment in time, as the Supreme Court of Canada recognized unceded lands on Canada’s west borders, Treaty people claimed Wabanaki — all of it — in the name of Peace and Friendship and the Rule of Law.

The Peoples Lawsuit

On June 26, 2014, 18 defenders filed legal action against the forces that took away their peace and violated their rights. The Peoples Lawsuit Statement of Claim could read — for those who followed the sad, violent applications of corporate rule that traumatized peaceful people at Elsipogtog, Harcourt, Moncton and Rexton in 2013 — like a saga.

The legal action numbers the ways that laws have been broken by politicos and corporations. Frackers Southwestern Energy (SWN) and Canada have been legally served 20 days notice to respond. The Peoples Lawsuit speaks truth to power but that’s not all it does. By an uncanny set of circumstances, New Brunswick managed to delay the official filing of two lawsuits against itself. Not stopped, mind you, but delayed.

Two lawsuits, you ask? On June 26, 2014, the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance (NBASGA) and three compassionate and revolutionary-minded settlers also officially filed notice of a legal action against the province. Their lawsuit is demanding that the light of justice shine on scientific truths about fracking, truths that can no longer be twisted or ignored.

Fracking destroys farms. Fracking makes people sick. There’s really no money in it for the public, only debt, devaluation and destruction of communities. There is no doubt that Wabanaki, all of it, is unceded. There’s no doubt the game has changed.

Mainstream and social media have barely begun to acknowledge the magnitude of the June 26, 2014 Supreme Court judicial decision, the filing of the Peoples Lawsuit and its sister, the “Science” lawsuit. Still fewer are aware yet of what these lawsuits are actually demanding from the court of justice.

Take the subsidies off dirty fuels and invest in jobs that are solutions to climate change. Stop corrupt politicians, corporations and their cronies. Respect First Peoples right to say no. Protect the water.

There’s room for everyone in the Peoples Lawsuit. Already, more people are coming forward to add their names alongside the ones who took the first steps.

Why not a class action, you ask? Well, I’ve heard that everything is possible when a small group of committed citizens come together in unity.

In June of 2013, SWN began seismic testing for shale gas deposits in the area of Kent County, New Brunswick. This territory was never ceded in the Covenant Chain of Peace and Friendship treaties, and is claimed as traditional land by the Mikmaq and Maliseet peoples, who are members of the Wabanaki Confederacy, which is a Confederacy of nations that includes the Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, Passamaquoddy and Penobscot peoples.”

[excerpt from: Peoples Lawsuit Statement of Claim]

Mother Earth’s children are learning a new kind of dance… can you hear the drums?

Activist Willi Nolan lives in Wabanaki-Mi’kmaq territory (Kent County, New Brunswick) in an area targeted for shale gas development. She began collaborating in 2013 with her lawyer, Larry Kowalchuk, who is now representing citizens in both the Peoples Lawsuit and the “Science Lawsuit.”

Further readings

Peoples Lawsuit – Main Page

NBASGA Legal Action

Wabanaki (Wikipedia)

Rule of Law (Wikipedia)

Peoples Lawsuit Statement of Claim

Supreme Court of Canada decision Williams/Tsilhqot’in First Nations decision


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