Only a few weeks ago, we were decrying the fact that even now, in the year of its 10th anniversary, the RCMP raid at Elsipogtog remained an open wound for the community, and for all allies of the shale gas movement who fought for justice and resolution.
Now, we regret to share the passing of one of the most recognizable figures of that time, Warrior Chief John Levi of Elsipogtog First Nation.
The fight against shale gas lasted years and produced many unsung heroes from across the province in Mi’kmaq, Wolastoqiyik, Anglophone and Francophone communities. There is no doubt that John Levi was one of the most notable.
While he and all defenders of the land displayed courage and dedication to the cause, I believe Chief Levi’s ability to remain calm and considerate in his actions, despite intense pressure and provocation, kept the events in Kent County from worsening.
Images of burning police cars and a praying woman holding a feather aloft and kneeling before a rank of riot police, have become the enduring symbols of this moment in time. But without the wise leadership of Chief Levi the images might have been much worse.
That so many trusted his judgement in those stress-filled times, is probably all we need to know about the man, and the level of respect and admiration he earned in his short lifetime.
All New Brunswickers who value the land and water owe John Levi a debt, whether they know it or not. The raid at Elsipogtog may fade from memory, but his influence will echo in Kobit Lodge, which he co-founded as an institution to protect the land.
As time passes, and we lose more protectors like him, it will become even more important to share his story, as well as that of the land defenders and the entire shale gas movement, so those who come after us will learn what might be accomplished through unity and purpose.
Written by Jim Emberger and Deborah Carr
Read more about Chief John Levi here: https://www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/john-levi-warrior-chief-1.6757793