After Losing Court Battle, Elsipogtog Chief Hopes Protests are Peaceful

This article was last updated on April 16, 2022

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The chief of Elsipogtog First Nation, Aaron Sock, has recently mentioned in a statement that he hopes that their struggle against shale gas exploration in New Brunswick will remain peaceful. He gave these remarks soon after the band lost its emergency bid to have all testing near its territory suspended on Monday. The band faced legal defeat in a New Brunswick Court of Queen’s Bench judge ruling, which favored the province and the energy company doing the work, i.e. SWN Resources Canada.

The band had requested the court to suspend all oil and gas licences and permits issued to SWN Resources Canada for exploration in the Signitog District of Mi’kmaki, i.e. an area encompassing over south of the Miramichi River and a portion of Nova Scotia near the New Brunswick border. The court ruling now implies that, at least for the time being, SWN is completely free and legally obliged to continue testing for shale gas. Even after losing this round in the courts, Elsipogtog Chief Aaron Sock was hopeful as he alleged that “it is just a small step backwards,” adding that “but in the big picture we’re going to be regrouping and coming back with a different strategy.”

The decision announced by Justice Judy Clendening Monday stated that it was an “odd request” for the First Nation to seek an injunction against SWN due the risk of violent protests. She stated that “the respondents [SWN and the province] are not inciting this reaction and there is no evidence that the respondents will interfere with a peaceful protest.” It was added that “the threat of radical elements converging is not a reasonable factor to be considered.”

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