Warrior raises Mi’kmaq flag at blockade. Photo: Miles Howe
Warrior raises Mi’kmaq flag at blockade. Photo: Miles Howe

By: Andy Crosby

Protests against fracking resumed in eastern New Brunswick as SWN Resources Canada prepared for an autumn round of seismic testing in September. The Texas-based shale gas company had earlier retreated from Kent County for a period of eight weeks following intense protests and RCMP violence.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is the controversial practice of injecting chemicals and water into the ground in order to break apart rock formations to release shale gas.

In late September, SWN moved five seismic testing trucks, called thumpers, into a fenced-in compound owned by the oligarchic Irving family at the junction of highways 134 and 11 in the town of Rexton.

According to the Halifax Media Co-op, SWN’s fall campaign will focus on two seismic lines that run through Acadian and Indigenous communities, including the Elsipogtog First Nation.

On Sept. 29, RCMP blocked automobile access to the compound, where dozens of anti-fracking protesters had gathered. Police injured two people and made two arrests.

In response, the Mi’kmaq Warriors Society moved behind police lines and erected a blockade of their own.

On Oct. 1, the Elsipogtog Band Council issued a resolution demanding SWN vacate their territory within 24 hours. Chief Arren Sock read the resolution to an estimated crowd of 500 people assembled near the blockade, according to the New Brunswick Media Co-op.

According to Sock, the Elsipogtog First Nation and the Signitog District Grand Council – representing Indigenous peoples in the Maritime provinces – are immediately “reclaiming responsibility for stewardship of all unoccupied reserved native lands in their territory.”

In response, SWN sought and were granted a court injunction, authorizing police to “arrest, remove and remand anyone in contravention of the order not to impede traffic, and to allow SWN to carry out its exploration activities without harassment,” according to the CBC.

New Brunswick Premier David Alward has since met with the First Nation, and the RCMP were put on high alert, with at least 30 officers on site.

As of Oct. 4, the RCMP restricted all access to the Mi’kmaq Warriors’ blockade.

This article first appeared in the Leveller Vol. 6, No. 2 (Oct/Nov 2013).