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"This piece of paper only said that you got the money."

Elsipogtog elder confirms that consultation 'workshop' was never touted as consultation.

by Miles Howe

"This piece of paper only said that you got the money."

K'JJIPUKTUK (HALIFAX) - Frank Augustine is a traditional elder from Elsipogtog First Nation.

In September 2012, SWN Resources Canada hosted a 'Mi'kmaq Elders workshop' in Elsipogtog, which Augustine took part in. This so-called workshop was part of a series of meetings that took place between the Houston-based gas giant and select members of First Nations groups in the province of New Brunswick.

These meetings between industry and community representatives form the lion's share of the so-called consultation process that must take place in resource extractive projects, a full list of which can be found here.

The list of consultative activities, including the workshop that Augustine took part in, all have a similar flavour, in that they suggest a situation in which industry representatives are provided access to First Nations communities while the provincial government plays the role of facilitator.

Indeed, part of the provincial so-called consultation strategy involves expense-paid trips for Chief and Council from Elsipogtog to SWN facilities in Arkansas, where SWN is facing numerous lawsuits due to contaminated drinking water.

Also problematic is the borderline fraudulent intention of the Elsipogtog 'workshop'. Augustine relates that for his attendance he was given an honorarium of $200 and made to sign an attendance sheet. He notes that he was never told that this meeting formed any part of the provincial consultation process, and that had he known he would not have accepted the money.

Augustine also notes that while the September 2012 meeting was supposed to be for community elders, many residents of Elsipogtog in their "twenties and thirties" also attended and were also given the $200 honorarium.

The meeting itself was set up by then and current Elsipogtog Chief Aaron Sock.

Click 'play' above for the full audio interview with Frank Augustine.



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