First Nations to Resume Blockade in Canadian Fracking Fight

By Sarah Lazare - Common Dreams, Photo Credit Miles Howe

Renewed protests follow announcement that energy company will re-start shale gas exploration

Elsipogtog First Nations members are heading back to the streets in New Brunswick this week to defend their land from a gas drilling company eager to re-start exploratory fracking operations in the region.The new wave of local anti-drilling resistance will resume an ongoing battle between the community members who faced a paramilitary-style onslaught by law enforcement agencies last month that sparked international outcry and a wave of solidarity protests.

"This is an issue of human rights and access to clean drinking water, and it's fundamentally about sovereignty and self-determination." –Clayton Thomas-Muller, Idle No More

The renewed protest follows a recent announcement by New Brunswick's premiere that SWN Resources Canada, a subsidiary of the Houston-based Southwestern Energy Company, will resume shale gas exploration in First Nations territory after it was halted by blockades and protests.

Elsipogtog members announced Monday they will join with local residents and other First Nations communities—including the Mi'kmaq people—to "light a sacred fire" and stage a protest to stop SWN from fracking.

“SWN is violating our treaty rights. We are here to save our water and land, and to protect our animals and people. There will be no fracking at all,” said Louis Jerome, a Mi'kmaq sun dancer, in a statement. “We are putting a sacred fire here, and it must be respected. We are still here, and we're not backing down.”

"The people of Elsipogtog along with local people have a very strong resolve and will be there as long as they need to be to keep the threat of fracking from destroying their water," said Clayton Thomas-Muller, a campaigner with Idle No More, in an interview with Common Dreams.

Community members previously blocked a road near the town of Rexton in rural New Brunswick to stop energy companies from conducting shale gas exploration on their land without their consent.

In early October, the government imposed a temporary injunction on the New Brunswick protest, bowing to pressure from SWN.

Claiming the authority of the injunction, over 100 Royal Canadian Mounted Police launched a paramilitary-style assault on the blockade in late October, bringing rifles and attack dogs and arresting 40 people.

First Nations communities and activists across Canada and the world launched a wave of actions in solidarity in response to the attack.

"Within 24 hours of the paramilitary assault on the nonviolent blockade by the fed police, Idle No More and other networks organized over 100 solidarity actions in over half a dozen countries," said Thomas-Muller.

Days later, a Canadian judge overruled the injunction on the protests. Yet the federal and provincial governments continue to allow SWN to move forward fracking plans on indigenous lands, in what First Nation campaigners say is a violation of federal laws protecting the sovereignty of their communities.

"This is an issue of human rights and access to clean drinking water, and it's fundamentally about sovereignty and self-determination," said Thomas-Muller. "Support for the Elsipogtog and their actions to reclaim lands in their territory is something that is powerful and united from coast to coast and around the world."


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Showing 6 reactions

  • Heather O'meara
    commented 2013-11-13 13:01:08 -0800
    I was so disappointed to see they’re at it again I started a petition to tell SWN directly to go away. As a settler ally, I welcome input and participation, especially from First Nations both in terms of the wording and framing of this petition, and/or being an admin on the petition page. Here are the links to the petition and my website….
  • Jay Bailey
    commented 2013-11-07 07:53:47 -0800
    His name is David Alward. His office email address is Don’t denigrate! Educate! Be kind but firm. His reality is misinformed.
  • Victor Muise Muise
    commented 2013-11-06 01:33:56 -0800

    Let us pray that our nation will respect our “History” and “Culture” throughout the next generation.

    May the universe open up and the Great Spirit look upon our Mother earth, so that the vision of life
    Will be released from the “East,” and the sacred sweet grass will cleanse our children. Then the eagle will
    Soar across this land and watch over our growing nation.

    Now, our universe is alive and our grandmother comes from the “South” and nourishes us with love and passion, as we use our sacred medicine, sage. Let us pray that our families, community, country and world
    Give emotional, physical, and spiritual strength to our culture. May our great-grandmother heal the sick and deliver the seeds of enlightenment to our unknown becoming of our next generation.

    Then, the universe expands and a spirit guide from the “West”, the black bear, with his sacred medicine, cedar. He ponders the earth and wanders the sacred ground in order to learn the secrets of life, so that we may teach the young of old ways. Then the young will grow in wisdom and become messengers who will carry the sacred bundles on to future generations, keeping the circle strong.

    So now, may all the universe be cleansed together, Nation after Nation and may the strength of the polar bear from the “North”, with its sacred medicine, fungus, enhance our Indian family, keeping us united in the spirit and free from fear. Let us stand proud, that our Indian people be educated in our language, way of life and beliefs for generations to come. No amah Tahoe Victor James Muise “Sake" Spiritual Leader of the children not “YET” born to “Mother Earth”
  • Laulani Teale
    commented 2013-11-05 18:45:58 -0800
    Much Aloha from O’ahu!!!
  • Stefaan Snauwaert
    commented 2013-11-05 16:08:57 -0800
    Much support from Belgium ! Fracking should be illigal and ecocide should be punishable !
  • Robert Mcneil
    commented 2013-11-05 15:02:31 -0800
    May our Creator grace and bless you as you stand firm against those who wish to destroy and plunder the earth which was given to us to look after and tend as we journey to our homeland. You have taken on a great and noble task. may you be sustained with peace,courage ,and strength in the days that are to come…..walalin nisgam ,walalin ulnu.