Visiting speakers to recount dramatic N.B. fracking struggle by Aric McBay, September 3, 2015, Kingston Region
Events – Kingston will be visited by a cross-country speaking tour about the struggle to protect land in New Brunswick from fracking. Annie Clair and Miles Howe will speak in Kingston on Monday, Sept. 14 about protests which have seen huge public support as well as mass arrests and police raids.
Annie Clair, Mi’kmaq land defender and grandmother from Elsipogtog First Nation, will describe her role in the events and discuss the traditional role of Mi’kmaq women in protecting the waters. She’ll be joined by journalist Miles Howe, who was often the only reporter on the scene and wrote a book about the struggle.
Queen’s professor Robert Lovelace will introduce the pair in Kingston. “I’m really happy that we’re going to hear from Miles and Annie” about the situation in New Brunswick, Lovelace said. “It’s a classic struggle over the right to protect land and to protect the relationship that human beings should have with land.”
In 2013, more than 100 New Brunswickers from a variety of backgrounds were arrested while protesting plans to fracture land in New Brunswick near Elsipogtog First Nation.
Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is an oil and gas extraction process in which pressurized fluids are pumped into the ground to crack open bedrock and drive out petroleum.
Fracking has been blamed for poisoning groundwater around the world.
“It’s not just Elsipogtog that’s important,” said Clair. “It’s important everywhere. It all has to do with water. It’s not all about money. We cannot eat money or drink money.”
The speaking tour coincides with the release of Miles Howe’s new book: Debriefing Elsipogtog – The Anatomy of a Struggle.
“I’ve read the book,” said Lovelace, “and the book is a beautiful and strong account of activism in Canada and how communities can work together. And the challenging things too, the things that make it difficult for communities to work together.”
Howe explained: “Canada could learn a lot of from the people who came together in that small, rural, fairly impoverished part of New Brunswick.”
He warned: “For me the response we saw in Elsipogtog in terms of resistance and the way that the state came down and viciously attacked, it’s a template, a scenario that can replay itself anywhere across the country.”
Not all is bad, however, Howe adds: “It’s the story of corruption, of co-option, of money, of what money will do to people. But it’s also the story of success, cooperation, and coming together from a variety of diverse communities.”
Among their successes, Howe notes that New Brunswick recently put in place a moratorium on fracking.
“If you listen to industry lies, the sky would fall if this were ever to happen,” notes Howe. “But we’re doing fine.” When it comes to energy, “there are alternatives.”
The tour is also meant to raise awareness about remaining charges from the protest. Annie Clair has six charges and is soon headed to Moncton for trial.
Clair, though, is not intimidated by the charges and urges others to come forward when land and water need to be defended. “They need to start standing up for Mother Earth. Not just for aboriginal people, but for everybody. Not just our children, for everybody’s children.”
Lovelace encouraged everyone to come to the event on Sept. 14. “They’re going to hear a really good description of how the people at Elsipogtog and their settler allies stuck together to achieve the goals that they did. They’re going to learn something about the power of activism.”
Annie Clair and Miles Howe will be speaking in Kingston on September 14, starting at 7pm, at Queen’s University in Dunning Hall 12. They are speaking in many other cities and communities this fall including Montreal, Kanesatake, Ottawa, Toronto, and Akwesasne.
For more tour dates and informatoin, visit: www.facebook.com/debriefelsipogtog
Annie Clair’s trial is still September 21-24 in Moncton, New Brunswick. Support is needed.
September 9th: Madawaska First Nation, New Brunswick – 6-8pm – Madawaska First Nation Recreation Centre, 1713 Rue Principale
September 11th: Montreal, Quebec – 5pm – 1515 Ste. Catherine West, Room EV 1.605
September 14th: Kingston, Ontario – 7-9:30pm – Kingston, Ontario
Queen’s University, Dunning Hall 12
September 15th: Toronto, Ontario – 7pm – JOINT RELEASE WITH Upping the Anti journal #17 – D-Beatstro, 1292 Bloor St West
September 18th: Ottawa, Ontario – 7-9pm – Odawa Native Friendship Centre/St. Paul’s Eastern United Church 473 Cumberland St.
September 19th: Gatineau, Quebec – Time and place coming soon!