For the last month, the Elsipogtog First Nation located in New Brunswick have been protesting against SWN Resources Canada’s shale gas exploration from carrying out exploration on their traditional land. This has already erupted in a violent clash with RCMP.
The issue is not that the First Nations do not support resource development; the problem is they weren’t consulted about work being done on their land.
The protest has already resulted in a violent clash when the RCMP moved in to enforce a court injunction against the protesters’ blockade. SWN attempted to extend the injunction to stop the protest, however Justice George Rideout ruled there were no grounds to extend the injunction, after hearing arguments in the Court of Queen’s Bench.
Shortly thereafter, the BC Treaty 8 Council of Chiefs stated their support for the Elsipogtog First Nation’s right to protect lands and water. A release from the Council states, “The BC Treaty 8 Council of Chiefs are stating their support for the Elsipogtog First Nation’s right to protect lands and water that are at risk due to fracking and shale gas development within their traditional territory that has been undertaken without negotiation or consent from the First Nation.”
Treaty 8 Tribal Chief Liz Logan says, “We are deeply saddened by the escalation to violence in the past weeks resulting from the Elsipogtog community not being allowed to voice their concerns against destructive resource extraction in their territory. We are urging a more peaceful approach and strongly suggest that companies and our government respect the Elsipogtog by stopping this disrespectful disregard for the immediate and long term impacts of gas development.”
West Moberly First Nations (WMFN) Chief Roland Willson states, “It is an embarrassment that we have to force our elected officials to realize that money does not take precedent over the livelihood of human beings. First Nations cannot continue to let money hungry governments open the door to industry development at all costs. There is an obligation of the Crown to work with First Nations to find a balance between economic development and protecting our lands and resources for future generations.”
WMFN recently won a court battle to protect the Burnt Pine Caribou Herd from the construction of a mine, which was planned to be created in their core habitat.
The release goes on to state, “The Treaty 8 First Nations know well the approach of resource development companies and governments when it comes to traditional territories as northern communities have been inundated with mining, oil and gas and now LNG projects dating back nearly 60 years. “
Treaty 8 First Nations support resource development done in cooperation with Aboriginal peoples that takes into consideration both short and long-term impacts to social, economic and environmental aspects in both traditional communities as well as the greater northern region. Logan adds, “We hope that the Elsipogtog communities’ experience does not set the tone for future interactions between companies and First Nations. We are calling on our government to see the unfortunate consequences of turning a blind eye to reckless resource development.”