Elsipogtog woman says she suffered trauma, injuries at hands of RCMP during arrest

Elsipogtog First Nation community member Marie Simon said she blacked out in the back of the RCMP paddy wagon just before her epileptic seizure.

(Video shows Marie Simon’s arrest at about the 2:00 mark. Simon was wearing a blue coat. She is seen on the ground behind the line of RCMP officers. Video courtesy of Noel Jij)

By Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
Elsipogtog First Nation community member Marie Simon said she blacked out in the back of the RCMP paddy wagon just before her epileptic seizure.

When she regained consciousness, Simon said she was lying on the highway with RCMP officers around her. She said her hands were still bound with zip-ties behind her back.

“They were saying, ‘are you sure she’s alright? Are you sure she had a seizure?'” said Simon, in a telephone interview with APTN National News. “When I was finally able to get my head together enough to talk I said ‘look, I am epileptic.”

Simon was one of seven people arrested Monday afternoon during demonstrations against SWN Resources Canada’s controversial shale gas exploration work on Hwy 11 in New Brunswick. The demonstrations shut down the highway for several hours and fires were set alight in the late afternoon.

Simon now has bruises on her face and her sprained left wrist is bandaged and the swelling prevents her from fully opening her fingers. She also has trouble keeping food down and believes it’s the result of a knee to the stomach she received from an RCMP officer after she was arrested.

“It was traumatizing,” she said.


(Swelling apparent on Marie Simon’s face. Facebook photo courtesy of Marie Simon)

Simon was arrested at about 1:30 p.m. local time as RCMP officers tried push a group of demonstrators off Hwy 11.

Video from the incident shows RCMP officers surrounding a small group of demonstrators. One of the officers shouts, “Move to the side now.”

One of the demonstrators responds, “who is pushing women? Cameras over here.”

Suddenly there is a brief scuffle as Simon is pulled through the line of officers and pinned to the ground.

“The officer in front of me pushed me right on my chest. I said don’t touch me that’s my chest, that’s my breast, and he went and did it again,” said Simon. “He pulled me by my left hand…I was saying let me go, let me go, let me go and he wouldn’t let me go. He pulled me through the line of cops…he pulled me through and slammed me on the ground, face right on the ground.”

Simon said she remembers having a knee pressed against her neck, another pressed between her shoulder blades and a third dug into the bottom of her back as officers bound her hands with zip-ties.

Then, she said she was hit again as she was being pulled up off the ground.

“I was crying, my hand was hurting, my neck was hurting, my stomach was hurting, my ribs,” said Simon.


(Marie Simon’s bandage sprained left wrist and hand. Facebook photo courtesy of Marie Simon)

But it was when she was sitting in the back of the paddy wagon that she began to feel a seizure coming on. Simon said she hadn’t had a seizure for about a year and suddenly she began to feel the familiar jolts in her muscles.

“I told an officer and he just looked at me,” she said. “They shut the door on me.”

Another man who had been arrested and was in the back of the wagon began trying to calm her breathing down, said Simon.

“He was getting so mad saying, ‘she needs help, why aren’t you helping her?'” said Simon. “That’s the last thing I remember and I woke up on the highway, I was on the side of the road, a whole bunch of cops around me.”

Simon said paramedics were on the scene by then, but the RCMP officers refused to free her hands so she could be put on the stretcher.

“They were hesitant,” she said.

They finally agreed to take of her zip-ties and cuff her hands in the front so she could be taken to the hospital in nearby St. Anne, NB.

Simon said her blood pressure was extremely low and her sprained wrist was bandaged. She was then taken to a holding cell at the Shediac, NB, RCMP detachment, but they could only take fingerprints from her right hand because she couldn’t fully extend the fingers on her left.

Simon said the officers would not let her call her fiance to tell him where she was. She was only allowed to call legal aid and was advised not to give any information to the police and was denied the pain killers given to her by the doctor in St. Anne.

“I was sitting (in the cell) and wondering if this is where I am going to stay. They told me they didn’t know if I was going to be released,” she said. “I was looking at the toilet and wondering what I was supposed to do and if I was going to see my family.”

She was eventually released at about 7:30 p.m. local time with conditions, including staying at least  one kilometre from SWN’s exploration vehicles.

Simon said she is now planning to file a complaint against the RCMP for her treatment despite being told by an officer in the Richibucto RCMP detachment that she needed the name of the officer who allegedly roughed her up. Simon said the Shediac RCMP detachment told her they wouldn’t accept the complaint and that she should file it in Richibucto.

Simon said she tried to demand the name of the officers during her arrest, but none would give it to her and their name tags weren’t visible on their uniforms.

Still, despite the misery, Simon would still march out onto the highway again.

“I don’t regret it. If I didn’t have a police order not to be within a kilometre of it, I would be there again on the front lines and I would never regret it,” she said. “I am proud of who I am, where I come from. I did this to defend our land, our water, our people, Aboriginal or not.”

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