REXTON, New Brunswick – In what may well go down as an historic Treaty Day, Eslipogtog First Nation's Chief Arren Sock today presented a Band Council Resolution stating that his community is prepared to reclaim all unoccupied Crown Lands in Signigtog District, which comprises most of present day provincial New Brunswick. The resolution was read to an exuberant crowd of hundreds of supporters from across Kent County, New Brunswick, and beyond.
“Whereas Prime Minister Harper and the Canadian Government have washed their hands with regards to the environmental protection of our lands and waters," read Chief Sock from a prepared statement.
"And whereas the provincial government has turned over all lands entrusted to them by the British Crown to a corporation for their own benefit.
And whereas our lands have been assaulted by clear-cutting and hardwood spray for the benefit of a few.
And whereas the Queen, under whose name our lands are entrusted, has shown unequivocally that she will not protect our interests.
And whereas our present lands are not adequate for our populations.
And whereas our lands have not yielded the amount capable of supporting our people due to mismanagement.
And whereas we are capable of managing our lands better than other governments or corporations.
And whereas we have lost all confidence in governments for the safekeeping of our lands held in trust by the British Crown.
And whereas a notice of eviction from our Keptin has been totally ignored by the provincial government and Southwestern Energy.
And whereas we have been compelled to act and save our water, land and animals from ruin.
Therefore, let it be resolved at a duly convened band council meeting, let it be known to all that we as Chief and council of Elsipogtog are reclaiming all unoccupied reserved native lands back and put in the trust of our people.
Furthermore, we have been instructed by our people that they are ready to go out and stake their claims on unoccupied Crown lands for their own use and benefit.”
Councillor Robert Levi from Elsipogtog then announced that the Elsipogtog band chief and council would be issuing SWN Resources Canada an eviction notice to have all their equipment removed from their currently blockaded, Irving-owned, compound along highway 134.
The notice of eviction will demand that SWN vacate by midnight, tonight, October 1st.
Jim Pictou, representing the Mi'gmaw Warriors Society, noted that the society would personally escort them out of the province of New Brunswick.
Chief Candice Paul of St. Mary's First Nation then offered the support of members of her community in assisting the Warriors in their escort.
In terms of the larger scope, the future implications of this Band Council Resolution remain unclear, but massive. Chief Sock alluded to the potential of mis-allocated royalty payments on equipment on Crown land, which currently goes to the province, but would benefit – and is due – to his community.
As far as the immediate issue of evicting SWN Resources Canada's blockaded seismic testing equipment, the chief kept his cards close when asked what would be done if the Texas-based gas company chose to ignore his eviction notice.
“We have planned next steps. But right now we're just going to keep that amongst ourselves as Elsipogtog Chief and Council,” said Sock.
Sock also noted that he had not yet spoken to representatives from the provincial New Brunswick government, but that they had a copy of the resolution and the eviction notice.
“I want a moratorium on fracking in New Brunswick,” said Sock. “Until if there is such a time that they can come up with a safer solution on how to extract shale gas. Right now I am here for our children and their children's children. Right now nobody can guarantee a safe and effective way of extracting shale gas without harm to the environment.
“No more negotiations with anybody.”