The Dryden Observer

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Shoal Lake 39 lights solidarity highway fire

By Jon Thompson

Only hours after hundreds of RCMP officers descended on a blockade in Rexton, New Brunswick, a sacred fire burned where the TransCanada Highway meets the road into Iskatewizaagegan #39 First Nation (Shoal Lake 39).

The fire was a solidarity action with members of Elsipogtog First Nation whose two-week-old land reclamation protesting shale gas company, South Western Energy erupted on Oct. 17. Elispogtog Chief Aaren Sock and some councilors were among 40 people the RCMP arrested.

Iskatewizaagegan Chief, Council and elders expressed solidarity with “our Mikmaw Nation brothers and sisters,” adding both treaty and inherent rights protect peoples, lands and resources.

“The RCMP’s excessive force of our peacefully protesting relatives is unacceptable, and can never be ignored or tolerated,” said Chief Eli Mandamin.

He added his government and people offer whatever assistance is necessary to ensure there’s no further “state-authorized violence against them” as he urged dialogue as a solution to the situation’s underlying issues.

“Our fire stands as a beacon of support for the Mikmaw Nation, and all other Indigenous Nations that stand to defend their rights, and to act as a symbol of protection for our eastern relatives from further violence from the RCMP.”

Mandamin sat alongside James Anaya in Winnipeg only days prior as the United Nations special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples called on Canada to undergo a national inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women. The police’s timing appalled the chief.

“Our Nation finds it amazing that only two days after the visit of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to investigate conditions in Canada, that Canada’s federal police force will resort to such armed violence against our relatives.”

A local solidarity action is scheduled for Friday at 6 p.m. in Migisi Sahgaigan First Nation (Eagle Lake).

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