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"I can honestly say I've never been consulted."

SWN ignores letter from Grand Council, offers Elders cash at info sessions

by Miles Howe

Geptin Noel Augustine of Migmag Grand Council [Photo: M. Howe]
Geptin Noel Augustine of Migmag Grand Council [Photo: M. Howe]

ELSIPOGTOG, NEW BRUNSWICK - Noel Augustine is a Geptin in the Migmaq Grand Council, the pre-contact, traditional form of government of Mi'kma'ki which still exists today.

Augustine's jurisdiction is known as Signigtog, translated loosely into English as 'The Drainage Area'. Elsipogtog and the majority of SWN Resource Canada's current seismic testing falls within Signigtog.

In a May 30th letter addressed to Mike Ezell, SWN Resources Canada's Moncton office representative, Augustine wrote:

The Migmag Grand Council of the Signigtog district, District 6 hereby gives public notice to all potential developers, the Government of Canada, and the province of New Brunswick, that pursuant to our Indigenous and Inherent rights as the righfull and lawfull owners of all Signigtog District Lands and resources, that no shale gas exploration and/or development or gas line shall proceed within our district without the expressed written consent and full participation of the Migmag Grand Council and the migmag people of the Signigtog District.

In the following interview, Augustine notes that he has "honestly never been consulted", and recounts sessions where Elsipogtog elders were offered $200 - and later only given $100 - in exchange for signing forms. Whether SWN Resources Canada considers this proper consultation is not known.

When I visited Mr. Ezell at his Moncton office, I was allowed to ask him one question. I asked him if he had received Mr. Augustine's letter.

"We have received Mr. Augustine's letter and will be replying to it," said Ezell. "I believe that's your one question."

Please enjoy the following interview with Geptin Noel Augustine.

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