Two of the four Mi’kmaq warriors arrested and detained for over two months in an action to stop shale gas exploration will remain in jail until their fate is determined in court in late March and early April. The two men pleaded not guilty to charges in a Moncton courtroom on Dec. 20th.
One of the almost 100 people arrested in New Brunswick for acting against shale gas this past year is Suzanne Patles with the Mik’maq Warriors Society and a treaty scholar from Eskasoni. She was arrested in June, while in sacred ceremony, charged in September for an alleged offense in July and was one of forty people arrested at the October RCMP crackdown in Rexton. She suffered a concussion during her second arrest, a result she says of being beaten with the end of assault rifles.
Patles drove through the night from Eskasoni to Moncton to attend the hearing for Mik’maq warriors Coady Stevens, Aaron Francis and Germain Junior Breau.
“I am sad that there are two men still incarcerated with no trial date set in place,” says Patles.
The two men remaining in jail, Francis and Breau, were arrested during the Oct. 17th RCMP raid on a blockade that stopped SWN Resources’ shale gas exploration trucks from leaving the JD Irving-owned compound on Route 134 in Rexton on unceded Mi’kmaq territory.
The raid resulted in international outcry when images of police tactical teams armed with dogs, snipers and weapons pointed at Mi’kmaq women and men holding the line at a blockade against shale gas spread over social media and global news sites.
Francis, 20, of Eskasoni, plead not guilty to 16 charges including obstructing and assaulting a police officer. Breau, 21, from Elsiptogog and now living in Upper Rexton, plead not guilty to 19 charges including assaulting a police officer and uttering threats to the police. The men are scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 30th when dates will be set for their trials.
“The system continues to oppress us, and continues to undermine our status as a Nation. They use their political and judicial tools of oppressive genocide to kill the ‘Indian’ within us. Being Lnu is what is in our hearts, minds and soul; and this is what they are trying to kill,” says Patles.
James Pictou was released on Dec. 17th after pleading guilty to charges that included uttering threats to a police officer, mischief, not keeping the peace and obstruction at large. His sentence includes 2 years probation and 9 months house arrest. He is prohibited from entering Kent County where shale gas exploration and the protests are occurring. He also must pay a $4,500 fine.
Coady Stevens, 27, of Eskasoni, pleaded guilty to five charges related to assaulting and threatening the police in the Moncton courtroom on Dec. 20th. He was sentenced to time served and 18 months probation with conditions such as staying 400 metres away from shale gas protests and one kilometre away from SWN equipment, compounds and work sites.
Stevens is calling on people to write letters to the two warriors who remain in jail.
Letters to Aaron Francis and Germain Junior Breau can sent to:
Southeast Regional Correctional Centre
435 Lino Rd.,
Tracy Glynn is a writer and editor with the NB Media Co-op.