REXTON, NEW BRUNSWICK – A letter on Assembly of First Nation Chiefs of New Brunswick (AFNCNB) letterhead, date August 31st, 2012, is now making its way around social media circles.
The letter itself is a 'your name here' invitation from Elsipogtog First Nation Chief Aaron Sock to a selected group of elders (how the elders were selected amongst their counterparts is unknown). The letter reads as follows:
'Dear --- , I wish to personally invite you to attend a special Elders Workshop to represent our Community on upcoming matters of Aboriginal consultation. The purpose of this workshop will be to participate in a preliminary Roundtable Discussion on matters of consultation related to the development of the oil and natural gas sector that is being proposed within Mi'gmag and Maliseet Territory as a whole.
The specific agenda for this meeting includes continued '2D Seismic Activity' that is scheduled to be completed by SWN Canada in 2013, hydraulic fracturing as a method of extracting natural gas, and a Briefing Session on the legal Duty to Consult and Accommodate established and asserted Aboriginal & Treaty Rights, as protected under s.35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
You have been carefully selected as a respected Elder that will thoughtfully and carefully consider the issues being discussed and will positively ontribute to this high level discussion by drawing upon your years of wisdom and experience.
There will be a $200 honorarium paid to you for your participation on September 6th and your travel expenses will be covered as well. A catered homemade lunch will also be provided.
Please r.s.v.p to me as soon as possible, so I can confirm your participation to the organizers.
Chief Aaron Sock.'
It would appear that this September 6th meeting constitutes one of the workshops that the provincial New Brunswick government has recently highlighted as fulfilling its consultation process with First Nations communities in relation to seismic testing on unceded territory.
The structure of the meetings, including what was discussed and who was in attendance, is currently unknown. Sources within the Elsipogtog community note that “no more than three” Elsipogtog elders attended these sessions.
As well, while it also cannot be confirmed, the same sources note that elders were only provided with their $200 honorarium upon signing papers noting that they had been consulted.
Correction and appology: An earlier version of this article noted that Michael Scully, community consultation liaison with the AFNCNB, denied the existence of $200 honorariums for Elders at consultation sessions.
In a July 2nd interview with the Media Co-op, Scully did note: "I think the $200 number is correct."
We appologize for the earlier version of this article and have removed the incorrect sentence.
Miles Howe, on behalf of the Halifax Media Co-op editorial collective.