In case you hadn’t already heard, on October 17th RCMP officers violently descended on a blockade led by the Mi’kmaq Warrior Society in New Brunswick, Canada. The blockade was was preventing Houston-based SWN Resources from accessing their shale gas exploration (fracking) vehicles.
Police fired rubber bullets and used pepper spray on peaceful protestors including elderly people causing numerous injuries. Many activists were also arrested.
The protestors are concerned that fracking (hydraulic fracturing) will damage the environment and poison their drinking water. They are also angry that they were not asked for permission by the state to hand over their land to to a foreign company for exploitation.
Here is a report from Submedia.tv who were at the protest when the Royal Mounted Canadian Police attacked the blockade.
Here is some more detailed information about the issue from the Sacred Fire website, which is posting regular updates as this battle for a community’s sovereignty over the use of their land continues to unfold.
The Province of New Brunswick has allowed South-Western Energy (SWN), a Houston-based corporation, to explore 2.5 million acres of lands for the purpose of shale gas extraction, or “fracking”.
Fracking involves drilling wells that fracture shale rock beds and pumping millions of gallons of pressurized fresh water and toxic chemicals, including known carcinogens and neurotoxins, into the well to bring up the gas. This hydraulic fracturing process is known to cause earthquakes, contaminate water, and disrupt animal life. Millions of liters of fresh water become contaminated with a toxic cocktail of chemicals, petroleum by-products and naturally-occurring ionizing radiation that is brought up from deep within the earth. These chemical and radio-toxins travel through the food chain. There is no guaranteed safe way to treat and dispose of this dirty waste water. Some 7 million liters of dirty frackwater has already been dumped into the ocean through municipal sewer systems in Windsor, Nova Scotia.
The people of New Brunswick elected premier David Alward on a platform of enacting a moratorium on fracking. Once elected he changed his position because he views the revenues as a quick way to deal with provincial debt and unemployment. We know that fracking will not create sustainable jobs in New Brunswick. Even the truck drivers are brought in from the US. The few local jobs that are generated are low-paying, non-unionized and short-term. We know that all the profits will go south to line the pockets of multi-national oil and gas executives and investors who do not live here and will never have to suffer the consequences. We know that the human and environmental health impacts are devastating.
Seismic testing has already begun causing irreparable harm in New Brunswick. The people of Penobsquis are now trucking in their water; many of their wells have caved in or dried up and homes have started sinking into the ground after seismic testing. Insurance companies will not cover the damage claims.
The grassroots Indigenous people of Wabanaki are asserting their legal Aboriginal rights and responsibilities to their traditional territory and resources. They have not been consulted nor have they given their consent. This shale gas activity is not an isolated event but the continuation of 500 years of colonial exploitation. The Government of Canada has no treaty right or legal authority to allow a foreign corporation to destroy the waters and poison the lands, homes and livelihoods of the Indigenous peoples and of all their neighbours who are living in their territories.
Water is not a commodity that can be owned, it is a resource that must be cherished and protected. If the water is poisoned, there can be no sustainable jobs, or life at all. We are unwilling to accept that outcome.
It is unacceptable to risk millions of liters of fresh water being intentionally poisoned while so many Aboriginal and settler communities are already without clean drinking water. It is unacceptable that our governments are acting without accountability against their own promises and against the will of the majority of the people.
The Acadian, English, French and Aboriginal communities of Kent County are standing together peacefully against fracking. At present, an estimated 29 people have already been arrested for peacefully standing their ground to stop seismic testing trucks and equipment.