Report on RCMP actions against Mi’kmaq water protectors in New Brunswick in 2013 could be released this fall

Published by Brent Patterson on

On October 2, CBC reported: “The average amount of time it takes for the top Mountie to respond to misconduct findings by the RCMP’s watchdog is growing, says the head of the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission [CRCC].”

The article highlights the review of RCMP actions that took place over several months in 2013 against Indigenous land defenders and allies opposed to fracking on unceded Miꞌkmaq territory in Kent County, New Brunswick, Canada.

Notably, on October 17, 2013 hundreds of RCMP officers lined up across a road near a protest encampment established by the Elsipogtog First Nation. Mi’kmaq land defenders had set up the camp in opposition to seismic testing for fracking being conducted on their territories without their consent by Houston-based SWN Resources.

At that time Vice reported: “What started out as a peaceful demonstration held by members of First Nations tribes turned into what resembled a war zone after the RCMP showed up with guns, Tasers, and dogs.”

In May 2019, Ann Pohl, a Kent County activist supporting the protests, wrote: “The federal Civilian Commission got its first complaints about human rights violations by the RCMP six years ago, and the public still has not seen their report.”

The Complaints Commissioner delivered the report on those incidents to the RCMP in March 2019. More than a full year later, on June 12, 2020, the CBC reported “the RCMP will provide its response this week.”

Now, almost seven years after the incidents in Elsipogtog, CBC reports: “A spokesperson for the CRCC said the RCMP responded to those findings over the summer and a final report is being finalized and prepped for public release this fall.”

There are concerns about what the report will say.

Earlier this summer, CBC reported: “[The Commission] found that in general terms and with certain exceptions, RCMP members did not demonstrate bias in general, or engage in differential treatment of Indigenous protesters when making arrests.”

That article adds: “RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki said she agrees with most of the recommendations in the report.”

PBI-Canada echoes Voices at Risk with the concern that the “failure to investigate and prosecute threats or attacks against land or environmental defenders can create a climate of impunity, which can lead to further attacks.”

To see a 90-second trailer for the 22-minute documentary Water Warriors about this struggle against fracking, please click here. The photo above is from the Elsipogtog in Five Minutes video by Kwakwaka’wakw historian and comic book artist Gord Hill.

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