Mi'kmaq woman fundraising for winter supplies for Standing Rock
An event Sunday called “Songs of Solidarity” is helping Annie Clair to return to Standing Rock
A Mi'kmaq activist from Elsipogtog First Nation is raising money to go back to Standing Rock, N.D., and plans to bring winter supplies to protesters in the camp there who are now bracing for the onslaught of winter weather.
Annie Clair was a demonstrator at the anti-shale gas camp erected in Rexton in 2013 to oppose hydraulic fracturing in New Brunswick. An event scheduled for Sunday called "Songs of Solidarity," will help raise money for her return to North Dakota.
"I feel I still need to go back and give my support, even though they said they're going to stop the pipeline," said Clair. "For me, I feel like they're not going to stop it."
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The Standing Rock Sioux Nation has had an an encampment set up since April to oppose the proposed Dakota Access pipeline. The demonstrators self identify as water protectors and feel the proposed route would threaten the Sioux Nation's water supply.
On Dec. 4 the Department of the Army, a federal agency under the U.S. Defence Department, announced it would not allow the $3.8 billion pipeline to be built under Lake Oahe.
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe chair Dave Archambault has asked those at the camp to leave and believed the next stage would be a fight in the courts.
However, others like Clair believe the fight isn't over on the ground. She plans to bring winter boots, coats, hats and gloves to protesters determined to wait out the winter.
"After the first time I went, I've been talking to people about Standing Rock, so now people are wondering what's going on," said Clair. "Like what are they doing, so I find if I go up there and I see it with my own eyes and I talk to the people, then I'll know what's going on."
Clair took a week-long trip to North Dakota along with a woman from Eskasoni last month and has been educating people about the pipeline since her return. She felt compelled to go because of the stories she heard from social media and wanted to see it herself.
"In North Dakota the main people that have say in a yes or no are the elders. And they do not want violence no aggression or any of that stuff, they want peace and they want to stick with the traditions," said Clair.
She said that kind of reverence for the elders is needed for future demonstrations on the east coast. Clair felt a certain level of traditionalism was sometimes lacking in the Rexton camp, and future encampments need that level of respect.
"It was really a ceremonial camp and it really felt good and safe. I didn't feel like I was in any danger whatsoever," she said.
When she returns, she's planning to join the Alton gas camp at the Shubenacadie River in Nova Scotia.
"We all need to work together, and for them to involve the traditional ways and like there has to be love and peace for them to all work together," said Clair.