Protests sweep Canada following paramilitary assault on indigenous fracking blockade – ‘Indigenous communities like the Elsipogtog First Nation are on the frontlines of defending water and the land for everyone’Posted by Jim at Sunday, October 20, 2013
By Sarah Lazare, staff writer
18 October 2013
(Common Dreams) – Protests are sweeping Canada following Thursday's assault by paramilitary-style police on members of indigenous Elsipogtog Mi’kmaq First Nation and local residents as they blockaded a New Brunswick fracking exploration site.
The group had barricaded a road near the town of Rexton in rural New Brunswick since September 30 to block shale gas exploration by SWN Resources Canada, a subsidiary of the Houston-based Southwestern Energy Co, that is moving forward without the community's consent or consultation.
Thursday morning, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police stormed the protest, donning camouflage uniforms, wielding rifles, and bringing police dogs to the site. Kathleen Martens with Aboriginal Peoples Television Network reports, "[a]t least four RCMP cruisers were burned" in the events following the raid.
The RCMP announced that 40 people had been arrested, citing a court injunction against the protest.
"The RCMP is coming in here with their tear gas - they even had dogs on us," Susan Levi-Peters, the former chief of the nearby Elsipogtog aboriginal reserve, told Reuters. "They were acting like we're standing there with weapons, while we are standing there, as women, with drums and eagle feathers. This is crazy." The media is reporting that some protesters threw molotov cocktails at the police, who reportedly tear gassed the crowd.
In the immediate aftermath of the violence, people across Canada mobilized to show solidarity for the besieged blockade, with APTN reporting that First Nations people across the country are putting a call out for an immediate show of support for the Elsipogtog members.
APTN reports that solidarity activists blocked a bridge in Listuguj, and supporters from Six Nations blocked part of a highway near Caledonia on Thursday. Organizers with IdleNoMore in Lethbridge, Alberta held a march through the city immediately following the raid. Solidarity demonstrations also took place in Washington, DC and New York on the doorstep of the Canadian consulates.
“Protesters in Rexton are standing up to a Texas company that wants to profit on the backs of New Brunswickers while placing the water and the environment at risk,” stated Emma Lui, water campaigner with the Council of Canadians. “Indigenous communities like the Elsipogtog First Nation are on the frontlines of defending water and the land for everyone, and this should not be criminalized.” [more]
By Martha Troian
17 October 2013
(indian Country Today Media Network) – Chaos has erupted as Chief Arren Sock and council members from Elsipogtog First Nation are among at least 40 people arrested by riot-gear-clad police raiding a Mi'kmaq blockade protesting shale gas exploration in New Brunswick.
Details are still emerging, but amateur photos and video have appeared online showing heavily armed police on the site and what appear to be snipers in nearby fields and forests. There are also photos of several police vehicles on fire. Those arrested, which may include elders conducting ceremonies at the site, are being detained by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). There were also some reports of shots fired.
Early this morning, hundreds of RCMP moved in to the site of a blockade that had been set up on provincial route 134 near Rexton, New Brunswick. They were enforcing an injunction that would end the blockade set up by Mi'kmaq protesters and their supporters.
Tear gas and even rubber bullets were used during the RCMP raid. An untold number of protesters were arrested (some say more than 30), several reporting that they were “roughed up” by officers. Elders who had been conducting ceremonies at the site have been arrested as well.
Sock and at least one of his council members from the Elispogtog First Nation were among those rounded up by police and were being held by the RCMP. News of the police action spread fast on social media, and people near the protest say supporters are supposedly beginning to pour in from neighboring Nova Scotia but also as far away as Alberta.
More photos on social media show dozens of vehicles supposedly belonging to supporters lining the highway, arriving to support the Mi'kmaq.
Indian Country Today Media Network spoke with Floyd Augustine, who says he is currently in charge of the Mi'kmaq Warrior Society, a group who says they've been tasked with defending Mi'kmaq lands and communities. He says he's trying to rally what warriors were not arrested—including his own brother—and plan their next steps.
The protests began last spring, when Texas-based natural resources company SWN Canada began exploring for natural gas deposits in the region. Opponents to the exploration worry that it will soon lead to hydraulic fracturing, the practice known as fracking that involves injecting noxious chemicals into the ground to break out the oil and gas deposits. [more]