ABOUT KOPIT LODGE
Kopit Lodge was founded by veterans of the campaign to stop fracking in Kent County, which is part of the sixth district of Mi’kma’ki: Signigtog (also written as Siknikt).
The veterans are the same people who established several Unity Camps during the protests. We also created the Mother Earth Lodge. We helped organize non-violent resistance training sessions. We hosted various events such as the Unity Gathering in August 2013. We organized the reclamation of Crown Lands. Collectively, working together, many people carried the load on all these initiatives and also gave birth to the Kopit Lodge.
When it seemed like the threat was not as immediate, many groups quieted down and stopped having as many regular meetings.
We could not rest. We did not want a repeat of the Police Assault on our People that happened at the 134 Camp. We needed to find another way to protect the water. To succeed at our goals, we knew we had to re-establish and reclaim stewardship of the land.
When we started the process of naming the group the beaver started to came to us in many forms. The beaver came to in a form of a banner. This banner was created by an Acadian ally (artist Gerry Leblanc), and then gifted to an Anglophone ally, who donated it to us. You can still see that banner hanging on the window of our Lodge.
At a community meeting, Chief Arren Sock made some of us think we are like the beaver. Chief spoke of the traits of this creature who is expert at rebuilding. If something destroys the Beavers’ home, they will determinedly rebuild.
Another way this came to us is from a Wolastoqiyik elder, Ron Tremblay, whom we also know from the Peace & Friendship Alliance. Ron was with us much of the time during the water protection actions of 2013. He shared that he happened on an old drawing where the Mi'kmaq appear to be following a beaver.
The name had been chosen for us and we only needed to acknowledge it. It was decided to use the Mi'kmaq word for beaver – Kopit.
We have had many meetings. The commitment we made was never easy but we are making our best effort. We felt that as long as the government and the proponent see us here – active and engaged in the work of protection, with a headquarters and a clear mission -- they will know we have not given up. Nor do we intend to.
We knew to protect the water we would have to establish title to the land. We know it would be a long costly battle. A battle which requires taking steps immediately (“lining-up our ducks”) so that we can create a strong case which would support our claim. We are doing that.
We have found a lawyer – Bruce McIvor of First People’s Law. We created a fundraising wing of Kopit Lodge, called “IMW.” IMW stands for IMW” means Iapjiw Maliaptasiktɨtiew Wskwitqamu -- Protecting the Earth for Future Generations IMW’s first task was to raise enough money to retain Bruce. We know that we will need to raise many, many more dollars to win our case to caretake the land and water. We need as many volunteers as we can find to help us with getting the word out about what we are doing, why we are doing it, to encourage support and fundraising efforts.
We have also created a Consultation Delegation. This delegation is mandated by Chief and Council, as well as our L’nu responsibilities, and the mission statement of Kopit Lodge. We have insured we are in a strong position to protect the water by speaking against any and all forms of environmental destruction, while we work through the courts to re-establish our rightful connection to the land.
We also knew we had to move the conflict to a different battle ground. We never again want to see our elders, youth, women, and men exposed to such violence when they simply stand up for protection of the water, human health, and the environment that sustains us.
Our group continued to meet weekly. We had meetings at different locations, including in people’s homes. It soon became clear that good meeting space was a problem. One person suggested we needed to find a permanent location: a place where we could meet, store information and material, and use as a communications and strategic headquarters if needed.
John offered a building at 33 Riverside Drive in Elsipogtog. The building was full of “potential” but it had been stripped and was in bad shape. The first meeting at Kopit Lodge we had to wear jackets. We used a flashlight so we could see our flip chart.
When we started meeting we felt it was critical to create a mission statement and to find a name. We knew our mission statement had to be simple after much discussion we finally decided it was "Protect the Water" – and all that lives in the water and all that needs water to survive. We knew this covered the whole ecosystem. Here is part of that statement: Safekeeping of the Water: We are people of the earth united to protect the waters. Our objective is to protect our children’s inheritance through coordination and persistence. Our group is committed to nonviolent resistance.