Canada: Indigenous people launch blockades against fracking

October 19, 2013

First Nations people have blockaded motorways on October 17 in Rexton, New Brunswick in Canada's west in protest against the violation of their traditional homelands by colonist mining companies seeking to commence fracking for shale gas.

Protsters from the Elsipogtog First Nation were joined by other local residents to stop shale gas exploration over fears it would lead to environmentally damaging fracking processes.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) descended on the blockade, firing tear-gas and rubber bullets after those on the barricades refused to back down. Police arrested 40 people, including several First Nations elders.

Clashes with police followed as some protesters fought back with Molotov cocktails, while other practiced non-violent resistance. Despite the violence of the RCMP, the demonstrators held the line, fighting off the police and maintaining their defence of the Earth and their communities.

Police reported that up to five vehicles had to be abandoned in the retreat.

The police were trying to enforce a government injunction on behalf of SWN Resources Canada, a large company with the aim of commencing fracking for gas.

This came after the First Nations people sought public consultation and the honouring of specific treaties with the Canadian state.

When discussions failed, the Elsipogtog people held a series of demonstrations against the mining companies, still to no avail. The blockade was the latest tactic of a movement that has also drawn in many non-indigenous residents.

This is just the latest of many indigenous uprisings against the Canadian state over resource extraction policies.

Indigenous people have very little say in where and how mining takes place, with many traditional lands destroyed and treaties simply ignored by the government and corporations. This has led to a series of uprisings, including the violent Mohawk Uprising in Oka and Idle No More, a mass movement of indigenous people calling for sovereignty and respect.

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