Unity & Solidarity Rally

UNITY & SOLIDARITY RALLY:  A Peace and Friendship Gathering with Wabanaki & New Brunswick Peoples. Let’s unite all people in peace and friendship. Please join us for this monumental action:

Tuesday, November 5, 12:00PM – 1:00PM
Legislature Building, Fredericton

FEATHERS:  Organizers are asking people to bring cutouts of feathers (use this template) in a variety of coloured paper stock, as indicated in the instructions on the sheet.

WEPAC will be offering a carpool from Hillsborough, leaving at 9AM. Please email us if you want a drive.

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1416688618553850/

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Town Hall Meeting – Hillsborough

Looking to find out what the Frack is going on?

  • In Rexton?
  • In Penobsquis?
  • In Albert County?

There has been no shortage of ‘Shale Gas Protests in NB’s news
in recent weeks. Maybe you have concerns, opinions or questions.

It’s time to share what we know and do our best to answer your questions and find out what happens next.

Please join:
Water and Environmental Protection for Albert County (WEPAC) for a Town Hall Meeting at:
TIME:     6:30 pm
DATE:    Tuesday, October 29
PLACE:  Kiwanis Community Centre, Legion St., Hillsborough, NB

Freewill donations gratefully accepted to offset costs.
We will have a limited number of ‘No Fracking’ signs for sale.

We need a change of heart

“It is a change of heart that’s needed, a change of direction,
an understanding in the bone that we must stop the desecration of our lands.”
Marilyn Lerch

Wednesday’s Telegraph Journal contained one journalist’s cynical and patronizing view of Unity Encampment in Rexton…the viewpoint of a stranger who walks through once and assumes he understands the whole story.  The following letter to the editor was written by a frequent visitor to the camp…one who has lingered and listened to hear the Heartbeat of a new community finding its way and growing stronger.

These words from Marilyn Lerch of Sackville:

Something beautiful, inspiring and historic has been happening in our province,this summer and fall of 2013. It has been coming to fruition for three years or more in people’s living rooms, in community halls in Berwick, Taymouth, St. Ignace, Bass River, Cornhill, Hillsborough and in the hearts and minds of countless thousands of our people. It manifested on country roads like 116 and 126 in Kent County in June and is continuing to grow at the Unity Encampment near Rexton today.

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I am talking, of course, about the grassroots movement to ban shale gas mining. And, though that remains the central thrust of this movement, it has become so much more. If you come with me into the talking circle near Rexton with the night sky brilliant with stars you will see what I mean.

You will find common folks speaking from the heart. No jargon, no doublespeak, just stories like this one from a young mother: My son is four years old and I saw him sitting by a tree the other day. He was talking to it. Then he stopped and listened. And then he spoke again. I want him to grow up in a world that honours trees like that.

A young First Nations man spoke about how he must change himself, become clean in mind, spirit and heart to carry on this struggle. There are few academics in the circle, but more and more students are coming. And they must return to the academies and teach what so many of their elders know but have not the courage to act on. There are no millionaires in the circle to my knowledge. And certainly few if any politicians have dared to come.

There are women who feel safer here than at home, men in beards and camouflage who know the land, young and old, people from all over the province and beyond, mixing, moving around in small circles sharing what they know.

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We are Francophones, Anglos, First Nations people talking together, laughing and planning together. I sit there for hours as the Talking Stick moves around the circle, as consensus is patiently found, woodsmoke in my hair and clothes, and I long for more writers, poets, thinkers, teachers, doctors, town councilors, to be there.

For if not now, when?

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No injunction or show of force by the RCMP or cosmetic talks with the government can stop what is building in our province. This is not a threat. It is simply that finally, finally New Brunswickers are seeing what it has cost us to be manipulated by a few powerful entities that have left our democratic process in shameful shreds.

Our Mi’kmaq brothers and sisters at Elsipogtog are standing strong as protectors of the land. They do not want a job or revenue that comes at the price of poisoning land, water and air for their children. Who would want that? They are raising with powerful voices once again what their treaty rights have given them and what has been denied them for centuries. They are claiming anew what they have not ceded to anyone. And their rising up must be the rising up of all of us non-indigenous people.

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It is not a change of government that is the answer. New Brunswickers are sick of revolving door politics. It is a change of heart that’s needed, a change of direction, an understanding in the bone that we must stop the desecration of our lands. Now. The digging, scraping, fracking, at any cost with profits for a few must be denounced, decried, and sane alternatives offered. Now.

We must all cry out for a ban on shale gas mining, but more than that, we must all become protectors of the ground on which we stand.

A powerful, inspiring beginning has been made.
Where do you stand? Ask yourself, then act.
This opportunity, if missed, may not come again for a very long time.

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Fracking fun…

WEPAC wishes to congratulate the organizers and volunteers of the Albert County Exhibition, being held Sept 12-15, 2013 for reaching this monumental 100th Anniversary Celebration.  We are proud that our small rural community has been able to continue with this exhibition for an entire century. It speaks to the tremendous commitment of the volunteers who make it possible and to the loyalty of the people who attend and take part.

To help celebrate all that we hold dear in our county and our province, we have sent WEPAC volunteers, Agent Jack No Frack and his partner, Mother Earth down to the Ex as our representatives.

BREAKING NEWS:  Agent Jack and Mother Earth Win
1st and 2nd prizes at the Exhibition!

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Call on Jack No Frack to protect what you love. He may look friendly and harmless now, but do damage to his special lady, Mother Earth, and you won’t know Jack! —

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Agent Jack for Hire…

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Have a word with Mother Earth. Spend some time at her feet and listen to her wisdom. Consider the many ways she nurtures you.

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Words of Wisdom from the Earth.

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WEPAC kids in the parade on Saturday. Our float won 3rd Prize! We aim to cultivate a new generation of community members…ones holding values of pride, participation and protection. But – hey – it’s also nice to get a wee bit o’recognition for the hard work, too!

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(This following photo from the Hillsborough Parade)

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See you at the Ex!

Grassroots Guardians:

Why Protecting New Brunswick from Shale Gas Development is Everyone’s Responsibility

Last month, Council of Canadians National Chairperson, Maude Barlow spoke to over 500 people at the Capitol Theatre in Moncton, New Brunswick on the need for all cultures to come together in a quest to protect our land, air and water.

If you were unable to attend the event itself, it was recorded in three parts:

PART 1:  Patricia Leger, of Memramcook Action, speaks first to the intensive work and solidarity of many groups and volunteers across the province of New Brunswick who are collaborating in opposition to hydro-fracking for gas and oil. Deborah Carr of Water and Environmental Protection for Albert County spoke to the situation in the areas surrounding Moncton and the potential for developments in south-eastern New Brunswick, giving the reasons why everyone needs to become involved.

PART 2 –  Ron Tremblay, of Maliseet First Nations, begins in his native tongue because his grandfather always told him to speak in his own language first when he talks.  Then, in English, using the stories of his culture, he explains the need for all people to take a stand to protect our shared Mother Earth. He talks about polluted rivers and his arrest, as he stood at the junction of Routes 116 and 126 to block seismic thumper trucks. He shares the prophecies of the elders that the people will reach a crossroads and if we advance beyond, there will be no turning back. We are at that crossroads; it is the time for rising up of all people to protect our future.

PART 3 – Maude Barlow, National Chairperson for the Council of Canadians, speaks on the environmental protection work being done throughout the world, and here in New Brunswick, where our opposition is being watched by other provinces, states and countries.  She paints a grim picture of the state of our environment, but shares optimism inspired by the very large successes of dedicated people and groups, among them our First Nations communities. She encourages the financial support of legal injunctions to stop the government from proceeding with the exploitation of our natural gas. (see www.knowshalegasnb.com).

TransCanada proposed pipeline route: what N.B. landowners should know

Further to our previous post on protecting landowner rights, Dave Core, of the Canadian Association of Energy and Pipeline Landowners Associations (CAEPLA) has supplied important Q&A information based on a meeting with TransCanada Pipelines Limited (TCPL), concerning their Energy East Project, on August 13, 2013.

The questions in this .pdf document were asked by New Brunswick woodlot owners. You will find TCPL answers below the questions, and responses from the Canadian Association of Energy and Pipeline Landowner Associations (CAEPLA) in italic below those.

Please share this information with landowners who may be living along the proposed pipeline route. The image below shows the proposed route (in red) from Edmundston to Saint John.

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Dave stresses the importance of landowners getting organized into a cohesive bargaining group as soon as possible in order to protect their interests and their investment.  CAEPELA can provide valuable information and resources to assist with this.

Public meetings will be held in a few scattered communities in August and September. This may be the only time that New Brunswickers have a chance to ask questions and voice concerns.  Understand this:

“Now, under new National Energy Board (NEB) rules, they¹ve made it almost impossible for Canadian citizens to provide input on tar sands pipeline, tanker or rail projects. If you wish to submit a simple letter of comment, you must first fill out a nine-page online application explaining why you are qualified to speak. Then the NEB gets to decide if you can submit comments based on a very strict set of criteria.”

This will essentially muzzle all public comment. (Sign a petition against this denial of free speech and democratic process now.)

About CAEPELA
CAEPLA has created an instruction booklet – When the Landman Comes Calling – advising landowners of the risks of leasing. If you know of a friend or neighbour who has been approached by a land agent or anyone else trying to acquire a land or pipeline lease, share or print the attached document with them.  Also share the document with anyone who has stated they are willing to lease their land.

This land is my land…or is it?

(with notes from R. LeChance and D. Core)

Last week in Hillsborough, Dave Core, founding president of CAEPLA, Canadian Association of Energy and Pipeline Landowners Associations to spoke to a full house of southern NB landowners on the issue of leasing land for pipelines or gas/oil wells.

davecoreDave has spent decades advocating for landowner property rights across the country. He jokingly commented that, despite his ponytail, he was not an environmentalist, but was, in fact, pro-development. But never at the expense of the landowner.

He hopes to create more responsible land stewardship and to ensure industry is held to higher levels of compensation, accountability and safety through lease agreements.

Pipeline companies are beginning to survey lands east and west of Fredericton for the proposed West-East pipeline and the government has scheduled town hall meetings in a limited number of communities. At the same time, gas companies are exploring for shale gas in south-east New Brunswick and preparing for further development in other areas.

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Pipeline surveyors are already contacting people in the Saint John River Valley. Listen to this interview on CBC and this online article.

Dave’s talk in summary:

Gas and oil companies lease the surface of your land to extract the resources. Pipeline companies can acquire the use of your land through “Easement Agreements” that leave your name on title. In both cases the energy companies can apply to the government through “regulatory processes” for “right of entry” (expropriation). This takes away your right to negotiate a fair contract protecting your best interests. You have no leverage to negotiate once your property rights have been taken by legislation that creates either ministerial or regulatory processes giving all the advantages to the oil/gas and pipeline industry. The only way to counter-balance this is when landowners work together to level the playing field and to force governments to change the legislation protecting property rights.

Here are some important points to understand, should someone approach you to lease/survey your land:

  • Most important: Do not sign any oil or gas leases or pipeline agreements (surveying, exploration, land, etc.) unless you know exactly what you are signing.  Signed documents of any type have been successfully used by pipeline and gas and oil companies to indicate the landowner’s approval for development. Even attending a ‘town hall’ consultation meeting and filling out a survey or information form can be used to ‘verify’ that the company has ‘consulted’ with you.
  • Pipeline companies do not want to own or lease your land; they want to take your land through an easement agreement which leaves your name on title. In this way, partial or total liability for any damages remains with the landowner.
  • Any easement on your land, including all future liabilities, will be tied to your property even if you attempt to sell it.  The easement may restrict your use or any future buyer’s use of the land.
  • If you refuse to sign an easement agreement, the company can apply for a ‘Right of Entry’ that the federal government’s National Energy Board will approve. This taking of land is to the financial benefit of pipeline company shareholders. It is rent control for pipeline monopolies.
  • Land agents will play neighbour against neighbour to make sure that they do not pay fair industrial rates for the land and to avoid signing an ironclad contract that protects your property.  You have little bargaining power as an individual.
  • Landowners across Canada now understand that the only way to get fair compensation for oil and gas leases is to talk to each other. The only way to protect your family’s safety, environment, businesses and investments is by working together to demand ironclad contracts and changes to government legislation respecting property rights. It is only the front line people, those directly affected, that can address these issues and protect our water and stewardship responsibilities.
  • Verbal assurances from a land agent or a gas company are not legally binding. Anything not written into the oil/gas lease or a pipeline easement is NOT in the agreement.
  • Very few lawyers have the necessary experience in property rights issues associated with the laws relating to gas companies and gas leases to actually address the best interests of an affected landowner. When landowners work together, they have leverage to negotiate better agreements and to hire legal counsel who understand the enacting legislation and will stand up for landowner rights.
  • Land agents do not look after your best interests. It is their job to acquire lease/easements at the lowest price with the least responsibility for their clients; i.e. the gas/pipeline companies. When you purchase a house through a realtor, they represent the seller, not the buyer.  Land agents represent the buyer (gas company), not the seller (property owner). Their fiduciary responsibility is to the company paying their contract not to the property owner; do not let them convince you otherwise.

The proposed west-east pipeline would be regulated by the National Energy Board (NEB), and their regulations supersede anything you agree to with the pipeline company, provincial environment or regulatory laws. Once the pipelines are abandoned with NEB approval, the NEB no longer has jurisdiction; responsibility falls back on the landowner. The landowner whose name is on the title, will fall prey to provincial environmental and safety laws, potentially making his/her property a brown space, like an abandoned gas station. This is why pipeline companies do not want to own the land their pipelines cross, they ultimately do not want responsibility when all is said and done.

The best way to protect your best interests when approached to lease land for pipelines or well pads is for landowners to work together to force contracts that are renegotiated or updated every 5 years. Contracts should address abandonment and other risks, liabilities, duty of care and other costs that are often left to affected landowners when they legally belong to pipeline companies.

By creating a NB Landowners Association, landowners form a united front enabling them to negotiate better easement agreements (or perhaps a lease with annual payments renegotiated every 5 years) that help protect safety and property values. It is only by working with your neighbours that you can level the playing field.

We need our local communities and our Provincial Governments to support us in holding the Federal government and its NEB responsible for our property rights.

About CAEPELA
CAEPLA has created an instruction booklet – When the Landman Comes Calling – advising landowners of the risks of leasing. If you know of a neighbour that has been approached by a land agent or anyone else trying to acquire a land or pipeline lease, share or print the attached document with them.  Also share the document with anyone who has stated they are willing to lease their land.
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Tides & Tunes: A Musical Celebration of Albert County

Tides and TunesYou are invited to an artistic celebration of Albert County: the talent, creativity, community and landscape that inspire and sustain us, with local recording artists Todd Geldart, Jim Blewett & Mick McNeeley, Lovestorm, Dana Cross, Don Coleman, and others.

Tides & Tunes
Thursday, May 16, 2013, 7-9PM
Kiwanis Hank Braam Community Center
47 Legion Street, Hillsborough

This is a fundraising family event with music, a silent auction (items donated by artisans, businesses and individuals) and a kid’s art show and sale…all under the theme of protecting what we love about where we live.

toddgeldartTodd Geldart was born and raised in Albert County, and laid the foundation  early as to what he and his music are all about. His music has a connection; it speaks to and for the hard working middle class, the underdogs, the ones who just can’t seem to make life go, those who are at constant odds with authority, and the hypocritical people who make up our governments. He is a songwriter not just with something to say but with things we need to hear, and to identify with. www.toddgeldart.com

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Jim Blewett and the Swing Cats include Jim Blewett and Mick McNeeley, two former Cape Enrage goat milking buddies who hung together in the 70’s.

Mick headed to the west coast and played music there for years. Back again him and Jim are having a ball playing 30’s and 40”s swing and European gypsy jazz music.

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Lovestorm is a sultry hypnotic pop duo featuring Tim Isaac and Nina Khosla. With cello, harmonium, keyboard and loops, Lovestorm captivates their audience with passionate duets, uplifting dance numbers, and exotic musical arrangements. An innovative collaboration and a powerful musical celebration of life. www.lovestorm.ca

Admission: $10 per person at the door; $5 for children 12 and under

All proceeds to support the community efforts of Water and Environmental Protection for Albert County and Legal Action of NB Water First.

For more info or to offer an item for the auction, please call 734-2367 or email wepac.nb@gmail.com

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Facebook event page: www.facebook.com/wepacnb