Tag Archives: SWN Resources Canada

Gone for the summer: SWN Resources Canada folds until September

By Miles Howe, July 30, 2013. Source: Halifax Media Co-op

Elsipogtog War Chief John Levi. Photo: Miles Howe

Elsipogtog War Chief John Levi. Photo: Miles Howe

Minutes ago, afternoon negotiations between the RCMP, Elsipogtog Chief Arren Sock, Elsipogtog War Chief John Levi, former Elsipogtog Chief Susan Levi-Peters, Mi’kmaq Warrior Society Chief ‘Seven’ and others concluded with a few key announcements.

  • SWN Resources Canada will be permitted to detonate 11 un-exploded shot-holes along ‘Line 5′, the backwoods seismic testing line west of highway 126 that the company is currently attempting to test for shale gas. A team of observers from Elsipogtog First Nation, which will include 8 scouts, 3 Grandmothers and 2 Elsipogtog Peacekeepers will be tasked with observing the completion of SWN’s work. No more testing will be allowed for these remaining 11 shot holes.
  • Charges laid against 25 of the 35 arrested in the protests against SWN’s seismic testing will be dropped, pending an unmolested completion of SWN’s detonation work. This work is expected to be completed by Friday, August 2nd.
  • People who have already entered the court system will not have their charges dropped. These include Elsipogtog War Chief John Levi and activist Susanne Patles, as well as others.
  • SWN is expected to return to seismic test in Kent County in mid-September. It will then focus it’s efforts on lines ’3′ and ’4′. These seismic test lines are far closer to Elsipogtog First Nation, in some instances bordering the community by only a few kilometers. SWN’s earlier attempts to seismic test these lines resulted in significant equipment destruction.

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All night anti-shale gas truck seizure,road block ends peacefully despite police negotiation failure

By Miles Howe, July 28, 2013. Source: Halifax Media Co-op

Indigenous, Acadian and Anglophone anti-shale gas activists seized a 20 ton truck for over 8 hours on July 27th. Photo: M. Howe

Indigenous, Acadian and Anglophone anti-shale gas activists seized a 20 ton truck for over 8 hours on July 27th. Photo: M. Howe

Last night, July 27th, about 35 anti-shale gas activists blockaded a 20 ton truck, subcontracted to SWN Resources Canada, for over 8 hours. The truck, filled with helicopter bags – each containing dozens of geophones – was attempting to exit southward along Irving Road, a back road west of highway 126 in New Brunswick. The truck, as well as eight other equipment trucks subcontracted to SWN, were conducting seismic testing in the hopes of finding shale gas deposits along a 35.9 kilometer north-south line known as ‘Line 5′. All the equipment and workers were halted until about 3:30am Atlantic Time.

Activists had originally negotiated with RCMP for a 3 hour work stoppage, in homage to the Ghost Dance that the Sundancers in Elsipogtog were undertaking yesterday evening. Elsipogtog War Chief John Levi, himself a Sundancer, was absent from the blockade. In his stead, Jason Okay, District War Chief, and ‘Seven’, the Mi’kmaq territory War Chief, had come to the assistance of the anti-shale gas movement.
The 3 hour work stoppage was meant to occur at the end of the workday. It would appear that RCMP had agreed to this temporary block.
However, when the 20 ton truck was first blocked at about 5pm – in front of an already heavy police presence – the RCMP immediately blocked in the activists who surrounded the truck. At the time there were about 35 activists at the scene, and word began to trickle in to those encamped that an RCMP roadblock at the entrance to Irving Road – about 16 kilometers to the south – was not allowing anyone to pass. This was apparently counter to the original agreement, and began what was to be a standoff that continued until the early morning hours.
RCMP and the ‘Elsipogtog Peacekeepers’ – a group of three individuals on Elsipogtog Band payroll who ostensibly serve as a neutral party – did not seem able or desirous of undoing the police roadblock that was refusing all entry. The activists requests were initially straightforward, only asking that anyone wishing to attend their ceremony be allowed to drive the 16 kilometer distance. The activists also specifically requested a drum leader and a pipe carrier to assist them. Social media sources continued to note that a sizable line of cars was still being refused entry.
Annie Clair chained to a spare tire mounting. Photo: M. Howe

Annie Clair chained to a spare tire mounting. Photo: M. Howe

Tensions further increased at about 7:30pm when Annie Clair, also known as ‘Pochahontas’ to the anti-shale gas activists, climbed atop the roof of the seized truck and chained and padlocked herself to a spare tire mounting welded to the roof. She was quickly joined by two other activists, one of whom also chained herself to the roof while the other locked herself to a helicopter bag filled with geo-phones.

Clair, who only days before had tied herself to helicopter bags and had halted work at a helicopter launching site, was defiant in her message to the gathered police force, noting that if they were going to shoot her, to go ahead.
RCMP and the Peacekeepers again continued to ‘negotiate’, but did not seem able to relay the message to the RCMP blockade that the first step towards resolving the standoff was to allow traffic to flow freely. Activists, for their part, remained adamant that the 3 hours they were promised for ceremony would only begin once the RCMP blockade was removed and their supporters could join them. As the hours of standoff continued, and food and water were denied to the activists, RCMP marched in formation through the blockade with numerous boxes of pizza and cases of water.
Eventually, one of the Elsipogtog Elders – also a clan mother – begged Clair to unchain herself and descend from the truck roof. With social media now reaching something of a frenzied pitch – and stories of dozens of police cruisers and paddy wagons waiting for the activists, Clair complied. Indeed, the activists were now visibly blocked in by numerous police trucks and cruisers. Infrared lights shone from some of the RCMP cars and a large spotlight was erected shining directly onto the activists’ makeshift encampment.
Warriors and seized truck. Photo: M. Howe

Warriors and seized truck. Photo: M. Howe

RCMP negotiators noted that they would not arrest anyone that night, but made no guarantees that future days might not see activists picked off one by one in house arrests. As has been the case since early June when active protests began against shale gas exploration in Kent County, yesterday police made no secret of their heavy surveillance of the action. At 3:30am, as activists moved their trucks and cars off the road, it became clear that an entire SWN work crew had been stopped. With a heavy police escort, eight SWN trucks emerged from a side road and quickly sped past the gathered crowd. With no equipment or SWN workers left to guard, the RCMP quickly left the scene as well.

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Undercover police crash anti-shale gas press conference, activists remain in woods along ‘Line 5′

 By Miles Howe, July 23, 2013. Source: Halifax Media Co-op

By now a familiar site. Police and security together bar entrance to SWN's seismic testing lines. Photo: M. Howe

By now a familiar site. Police and security together bar entrance to SWN’s seismic testing lines. Photo: M. Howe

Yesterday, Upriver Environment Watch called a press conference at the Super 8 motel in Dieppe, New Brunswick. Attended by about 50 people, including 4 representatives from the media, the anti-shale gas action group from Kent County hosted a panel of speakers with a variety of expertise and experience.

“Impunity is the word we’re working with today,” said Anne Pohl, host of the press conference.

Pohl had, on July 19th, sent an open letter to New Brunswick Premier David Alward. The letter was at once an invitation to Alward to attend the press conference (neither he nor any member of his caucus attended) as well as a point by point description of the experienced hardships that those continuing to call for a moratorium on shale gas exploration in New Brunswick have experienced in their dealings with the RCMP, SWN Resources Canada as well as their elected government representatives.

If there was a continuous thread to the press conference, it was a general sense of frustration.
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Indigenous resistance, arrests continue against fracking in New Brunswick

By Miles Howe, June 9, 2013. Source: Halifax Media Co-op

RCMP arrest Pattles. Photo: M. Howe

RCMP arrest Pattles. Photo: M. Howe

About 25 RCMP officers in uniform, along with about a dozen police cruisers, today continued to flank equipment owned by gas exploration company SWN Resources Canada as they proceeded with their seismic testing of highway 126 in Kent County, New Brunswick.

Pushing the scattered crowd of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people back “50 metres distance” from the southward approaching seismic trucks – or ‘thumpers’ – the RCMP first arrested one demonstrator and chased another into the woods before arresting Susanne Pattles.

Pattles, a Mi’kmaq woman, had scattered a line of tobacco between herself and the approaching police, then proceeded to draw a circle of tobacco in the highway, where she then knelt and began to pray. After about two minutes, the police proceeded to arrest Pattles. An officer Bernard noted that she was being charged with mischief.

Today’s two arrests follow another three made last Wednesday, when people again placed themselves in the path of SWN’s thumpers. Residents fear that the tests will lead to hydraulic fracturing – or fracking – of the area.
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