BC LAWYER RETAINED BY IMW/KOPIT LODGE AT ELSIPOGTOG TO PROTECT SIKNIKTUK, MI’KMA’KI
“We are fighting for only one thing. As the most powerful Mi’kmaq community in Sikniktuk District, we have responsibility to protect our region’s water and try to ensure a healthy planet for future generations,” says Elsipogtog Elder Kenneth Francis, Speaker for the IMW Consultation Delegation. IMW stands for Iapjiw Maliaptasiktɨtiew Wskwitqamu (Protecting the Earth for Future Generations).
A March 26, 2015 Elsipogtog First Nation Band Council Resolution mandated the IMW Consultation Delegation to represent Elsipogtog community regarding resource extraction development and related matters. IMW is headquartered at Kopit Lodge, a community centre in Elsipogtog that is funded and managed by community volunteers. All members of the IMW Consultation Delegation are volunteers, and have no conflict or pecuniary interest in any resource extraction or related matters.
“The courts have made it a condition that governments must go through a consultation with Aboriginal Peoples. We need to be involved in this process, but we need to control it to make sure it is a valid, transparent, accountable, and fair process,” says Kenneth Francis. “Now we are proud to announce we have gathered the funds from grassroots contributions to retain a lawyer to assist us.”
Dr. Bruce McIvor, of First People’s Law based in Vancouver and Toronto, has held initial strategic discussions with Elsipogtog’s Chief and Council and the IMW delegation, as well as meeting volunteers from Elsipogtog and surrounding Acadian and Anglophone communities.
One item already addressed was to clarify that Dr. McIvor will be representing Elsipogtog as an Intervenor before the National Energy Board, regarding the Energy East pipeline proposal. As well, last month a letter outlining six priority consultation matters was sent to the Hon. Ed Doherty, New Brunswick’s Aboriginal Affairs Minister. Mr. Francis is still awaiting the materials requested in this correspondence.
On August 29th at 7 pm, the IMW Legal Fund will get a boost from the Kent County Friendship Committee’s fundraising event. This will take place at the Saint Charles Community Center. “Our non-Aboriginal allies have the same serious concerns as we do, and the support we are getting from them convinces me that this is the time to take action,” says Mr. Francis.