By Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
ELSIPOGTOG, NB–The Mi’kmaq Warrior Society says it was “cut out” of a meeting with New Brunswick Premier David Alward to discuss a possible resolution to an ongoing anti-fracking blockade in the northern part of the province.
The meeting was supposed to include two warrior representatives along with delegates from the Elsipogtog First Nation and others representing elders, youth, Acadian and Anglophone residents in the area.
“The Mi’kmaq Warrior Society was cut out of the meeting. The people who are claiming to represent the society in attendance of this meeting are not sanctioned by the warrior society,” the warriors said in a statement sent to APTN National News while the Sunday afternoon meeting was in progress.
Elsipogtog War Chief John Levi attended the meeting with the premier.
Alward met the Elsipogtog-led anti-fracking alliance at the Delta Beausejour Hotel in Moncton on Sunday.
The meeting began shortly after 1 p.m. following a brief smudging ceremony.
The warrior society says in its statement that the meeting would not have happened without its intervention.
“The warrior society is the true power and heartbeat of the nation and willing to die for their people, yet we have been excluded from a meeting that we helped get off the ground through RCMP talks at the barricades,” said the statement.
It’s unclear how the warrior society’s position will impact the outcome of the meeting.
APTN National News has learned that Alward’s office refused to meet with any delegates from the warrior society who hailed from outside of Kent County, which is the region covering Elsipogtog First Nation and the anti-fracking blockade.
Sunday’s meeting comes days after a New Brunswick judge handed down an injunction against an ongoing blockade on Hwy 135 in Rexton, NB, which sits about 80 kilometres north of Moncton and about 15 kilometres northeast of Elsipogtog First Nation.
RCMP vehicles have sealed off the blockade on both sides. The site sits next to a compound holding several exploration vehicles belonging to SWN Resources Canada, the company conducting shale gas exploration in this region of the province.
The injunction was handed down Thursday at the request of SWN, but papers had yet to be served to the demonstrators at the site as of Sunday afternoon. The injunction came down the same week the Elsibogtog band council passed a resolution declaring “stewardship” over all unoccupied Crown land in their claimed territory.
The blockade and the declaration will both be discussed at the meeting with Alward, said Elsipogtog Chief Arren Sock.
“It has turned into a two-track issue,” said Sock, in an interview with APTN National News Saturday evening.
Sock said he plans to tell the premier the blockade will end when SWN pulls out and stops shale gas exploration in the region.
“It would be pivotal if he is willing to listen to what we have to offer,” said Sock. “What our hope is that more meetings will continue to hammer out our differences.”
Sock said Alward has taken rigid positions in past meetings.
“He seems to be set on his own agenda items and he usually doesn’t budge,” said Sock. “I really don’t know what is going to happen. It is basically wait and see now.”
Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a controversial method of extracting natural gas by cracking rocks and rock formations by using high pressure to inject massive amounts of fluids into fractures, thereby creating fissures for wells.
An RCMP spokesperson said the injunction does not impose any timelines on the police force to act.