For the most part, mainstream media reporting and editorializing about the events and tragic violence at the Elsipotog protest site on October 17th have ignored two issues which are central to understanding what happened, and what is now unfolding.
1. The Aboriginal people in New Brunswick have never sold nor ceded their lands to the Crown, by treaty. Thus, the people of Elsipogtog have the responsibility to exercise sovereignty over their lands, and every right to evict Texas-based oil and gas company, SWN Resources, from their territory. This issue doesn’t get much attention, and I suspect if most of our federal and provincial leaders ever talked really straight, they’d say this: “Who cares about sovereignty issues? These bothersome Natives are blocking progress, and need to be taught a lesson.” This mentality seems to have infused mainstream media editorial writers, I’ve noticed.
2. A call to arms by SWN’s lawyer, five days before the RCMP’s militarized intervention at the protest site, was the apparent triggering event for the strife that ensued. This lawyer berated the RCMP for “aiding and abetting” the shale gas protesters. “They (the protestors) should be removed, made to appear in court and found in contempt” growled said lawyer. It is apparent, now, that what SWN wanted to happen has come to pass.
This should make you wonder about who calls the shots in our province and country, and what manner of political leadership we have. Here’s what I think: If you love this land, and the skies and the waters and all earth’s creatures, thank your favourite deity or spirit guide or the lucky stars that Chief Sock and Chief Paul and so many Aboriginal people across Canada are showing the rest of us real leadership on what we need to stand up for, and against.