Video by Ni Québec, ni Canada, transcribed by MTL Counter-info
Call for Supporters from Gary Metallic here
Gary Metallic: My name is Gary Metallic. I’m the District Chief of the Gespegawagi Overseers Tribal Council.
Frank Sorby: And I’m Frank Sorby, subchief of Gespegawagi Tribal Council.
Ni Quebec Ni Canada: We’re here to talk about what’s going on around the Junex company, Galt projects and the blockade. What do you think about what’s going on?
GM: What do we think? From what we’ve heard, we support the blockade, and I think a lot of our people support it. We don’t want oil or fracking exploration or extraction being done on our territory because it’s going to hurt the environment, water, wildlife and so forth.
FS: Basically, you said it all.
NQNC: What do you think about all those people who want to be in relation to Mi’gmaq people and fight together against this project that is devastating the land?
GM: I think we have to form those alliances because, as we spoke about earlier, it’s okay to have protests and blockades but that alone will not be enough to stop whatever governments and mining, gas, oil, or fracking are trying to do. They have the courts at their service and it’s just a matter of time before they’re dismantled. But we have to form the alliance that we talked about, where our legal defence in Aboriginal title claim is combined with what your people are trying to do over there. When we put the two together, it would be, I think, very hard for Quebec to challenge Aboriginal title.
NQNC: What do you think of this resurgence of settlers who want to make links of solidarity and struggle with indigenous people, in this case with Mi’gmaq people, in different ways and on different fronts?
GM: Well our position has always been, as the 7th District Tribal Council, we have to co-exist. No one’s going anywhere. We’ve lived together several hundred years. May have not been the most peaceful relationship, but right now the way things are going, governments and corporate raiders are destroying our lands and resources, and environment. And it’s time for the people to stop them. And the only way to do it is to form these alliances, whether it’s Mi’gmaq, French, Acadian, English, this is the only way that our voices will be heard.
NQNC: What did you think about the reaction of Manon Jeannotte, the band-council chief of Gespeg?
GM: It’s a typical reaction from a band-council, especially if they are doing business with governments and oil and gas companies. I think that’s what we have here in the district, that’s the relationship that has existed since, I believe, 2005. And just her statement alone, saying that if we did oppose what’s happening in the oil extraction or gas by Junex or Squatex, they would meet face to face. But they’ve already been meeting face to face for almost a decade. And I don’t think they have any intentions of opposing what’s going on, based on her statement.
NQNC: What should be done right now?
GM: Right now, as I mentioned earlier, the alliances have to be formed, together with the people who are at the site, and our traditional Tribal District governments. We have the means to provide the legal and constitutional arguments that this land still belongs to us. Quebec had no business or no history giving any licenses to anybody without our consent, so what we do is challenge them on that. And I think bringing up this Aboriginal title land claim, with the constitutional arguments that go with it, that it’s still unceded Mi’gmaq lands, we will get their attention for sure.
NQNC: Why do you think that a lot of environmental groups, mostly settlers, don’t understand the relationship between capitalism and the band-councils? Like they don’t take this into consideration when they speak about relations with indigenous people. This makes a lot of people mixed up and surprised about band-councils signing agreements with companies, or just supporting, or just not resisting or whatever…
GM: Well that’s a big problem, because even we have that amongst ourselves. Our own people don’t understand it. Because of these back room, closed-door negotiations with governments and oil and gas companies, we don’t know what’s going on. But we as the traditional district government know that the relationship is not legitimate. Because there is a definition of band-councils and the traditional ancestral governing systems. And that means that traditional ancestral systems were here long before the band-councils were created in 1876. And therefore, the band-councils are only a federal entity, actually one entity negotiating itself for land claims and rights. And that’s the key. Our defence for court purposes, is that specifically points that out. And to add to that, we also have that clause for co-existence with non-native settlers, that this can be done easily. As I said, we’ve lived together for over a century.
NQNC: Outside of this situation, and more largely, what do you think we can build as a relation in more concrete ways, to build better relations between indigenous and non-indigenous people?
GM: Better relations, I think there is one common factor that will bind us all together. Mother Earth and the resources have to be protected. Because if you look around the globe and what’s happening, global warming and so forth, water being contaminated like in North Dakota. If water is contaminated, water provides life to everyone, humans and species. Now if we don’t protect that, if we can’t do that as human beings, well what’s going to happen?
And the other reason why we have to form these alliances and co-exist is our governments, whether federal or provincial, have done a terrible job of managing our lands and resources, as we can see today. The result of it is global warming. We have scientists saying that if this doesn’t stop, the use of fossil fuels, mankind will just disappear, almost like the dinosaurs. But nobody is listening. So the alliances between our people have to be formed, to take that authority back from these governments that have abused the authority that was given to them. Either by your system, the voting system, and our people have to now assert that aboriginal title, and take that back as well. And that’s where the co-existence will come in.