FIRST NATIONS IN ONTARIO STAND IN SOLIDARITY WITH ELSIPOGTOG FIRST NATION
(THUNDER BAY, ON) October 18, 2013 – Since June of this past summer, 133 First Nations in Ontario have held strong positions on the events taking place in Elsipogtog First Nation, New Brunswick which resulted in adversarial actions by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). “We are shocked by yesterday’s developments and we pray for the safety of Chief Arren Sock, his community members and other land defenders who are at the site on Elsipogtog First Nation traditional lands,” said Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy.
In July 17, 2013, letters sent to SWN Resources and RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson, Beardy stated that the crisis in New Brunswick could have been solved overnight if the Province of New Brunswick and SWN accepted the principle that the shale project could not go ahead without the free, prior and informed consent of Elsipogtog First Nation.
RCMP Commissioner Paulson was advised in July that instead of a confrontational strategy, they should engage the Elsipogtog First Nation in a dialogue to develop a protocol to address the constitutionally protected rights of the First Nation and to consider the approach adopted by the Ontario Provincial Police as a result of the death of Dudley George of the Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation. Although a response to the July 17, 2013 letter was received by RCMP Paulson, a response to date has not been received from SWN Resources.
“It is past time now to call a halt to the physical exploration work and engage Elsipogtog First Nation in a respectful dialogue. In my view, this course is in the best interests of everyone and all concerned,” said Beardy.
Yesterday, New Brunswick Premier David Alward issued a statement regarding the situation saying he was committed to dialogue and doing everything in his government’s power to achieve a peaceful resolution. “As part of New Brunswick’s response to this situation, Premier Alward must halt the exploration license granted to SWN Resources and discontinue issuing further exploration licenses to any further exploration companies without the free, prior and informed consent of First Nations,” said Beardy. “This has been the simple ask of First Nations throughout Canada for too many years.”
The Chiefs of Ontario is a political forum and a secretariat for collective decision making, action, and advocacy for the 133 First Nation communities located within the boundaries of the province of Ontario, Canada.