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Communication Breakdown or Double Cross?

Key anti-shale blockade meeting with New Brunswick Premier finds key invitees on the outside.

by Miles Howe

Lost in Text-lation? Alfred Sock says he texted the invitees list to Elsi Chief and council; but no response. [Photo: M. Howe]
Lost in Text-lation? Alfred Sock says he texted the invitees list to Elsi Chief and council; but no response. [Photo: M. Howe]

Rexton, New Brunswick – A high-level meeting in Moncton, currently proceeding between Premier David Alward, cabinet ministers and representatives from the ongoing anti-shale gas blockade on highway 134, has apparently forgotten some key invitations. The Mi'kmaq Warriors Society, as well as others, were only informed of the meeting ten minutes prior to.

Talking circles have been ongoing for two days at the blockade in order to determine who would represent the various voices at camp, as well as to find representatives from the 28 groups that originally signed their opposition to shale gas in New Brunswick. The list of concerns from each representative group have also been painstakingly prepared.

Central in these circles, and discussions, have been the Mi'kmaq Warriors Society. And it is them, among other groups, who have apparently been left high and dry while others meet with the Premier.

“We have not sanctioned anyone to represent us at the meeting,” says Warrior Suzanne Patles. “We did not receive our invitation to the meeting until ten minutes prior [to the meeting's start]. We have been excluded from this meeting.”

There is really no conceivable way that the Warriors would have been accidentally excluded from the meeting. They are not hard to find at the blockade, and have established a command centre trailer.

As well, the Warriors were seeking an asssurance from the Premier's office that they would not be served with the ever-looming 'injunction' passed by Judge Rideout on behalf of SWN Resources Canada on Thursday, October 3rd. If an injunction were to be served, and key figures in the Warrior Society arrested while outside the blockade, it is not necessarily far-fetched to imagine the blockade subsequently crumbling.

“We asked for a guarantee,” says Jason Okay, himself named in the injunction. “We didn't get it. They [also] kept on changing the times of the meeting. There were also supposed to be four seats for Warriors, two from Nova Scotia and two from New Brunswick.”

Mi'kmaq Warrior Jim Pictou adds that there is a real danger in leaving a blockade situation in which everyone - the court's injunction names John and Jane Doe - could possibly be arrested at any point for participating in the anti-shale gas action.

But Warriors are not the only group who appear to be left on the outside of this meeting. Garnett Thompson, an eighth generation New Brunswicker on the same original 1820 land grant, wasn't able to find the meeting place or time. He was supposed to be amongst two people representing the New Brunswick Anglophone community.

“I tried my best to find the meeting. But nobody [from my group] knew where it was,” says Thompson. “I called a meeting last night with the people I was representing, and asked them 'What do you guys want me to say?'”

Thompson notes that he had a statement prepared on behalf of his community.

The responsibility for sending the list of invitees to the Elsipogtog Chief and council - and subsequently to the Premier's office - was Alfred Sock. Alfred Sock can safely be described as Chief Arren Sock's envoy at the blockade. For the procession of the talking circles at the blockade Sock has been taking notes and preparing notes to send along to Elsipogtog band council.

“People who were sitting around the circle determined who they wanted representing. I forwarded that list to Chief and council. The Warriors were on that list,” says Sock. “The Warriors on that list are not in that meeting.”

Sock notes that he received no response from Chief and council as to his forwarded list.

“I've attempted to text concerns of people here to the Chief and council,” says Sock. “I don't know if their phones are turned off.”

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