Canada: Tensions High in Mik’maq Blockade Against Colonial Gas Grab


Blockade to stop fracking on Route 134 in Mi’kmaq territory, October 2013.

Blockade to stop fracking on Route 134 in Mi’kmaq territory, October 2013.

by EF! News

Legal maneuvers with crucial tactical implications in the struggle between Mik’maq First Nations and the exploiters of natural resources present new challenges in the historic struggle for self-determination against colonial land grabs.

Earlier this year, the Elsipogtog First Nation, which is part of the Mik’maq band government, was supported by the Signigtog Grand Council, representing Mik’maq communities throughout southern New Brunswick and northern Nova Scotia, in occupying the land that the energy companies wanted to exploit, halting their activities and commandeering a vehicle.

Earlier this week, the Elsipogtog camp was brutally cleared by Canadian police, and in response, the Mik’maq blockaded Route 134, halting all traffic on the highway and blocking the gas company’s access to their vehicles. Their singular struggle has been a leading inspiration in the resistance to land grabs and gas fracking.

In a coincidence deep with significance, the new blockade came into effect on Treaty Day, a day dedicated to the signing of 1752 Treaty of Friendship and Peace between Canada (at that time under the colonial English Crown) and the Mi’kmaq.

Yesterday, however, a Canadian Judge issued an order to Mi’kmaq protestors demanding that they remove their barricades on Route 134 and allow the natural gas company SWN Resources Canada access to its equipment in the area.

The Canadian police have agreed not to enforce the order of eviction until dialogue between Elsipogtog councilor Robert Levi and New Brunswick Premier David Alward. Right now, there are ongoing negotiations, and the mood is tense. According to the Halifax Media Co-op,

“Even now, with the overhanging threat of an injunction in which every John or Jane Doe has been named, the road blocked compound along highway 134 streams with Acadian and local non-Indigenous families. It remains, as it has from its inception, a safe and welcoming space for children to play amongst the fallen trees. Whether the intimidatory effect of a New Brunswick court injunction changes the mood of this encampment remains to be seen.”

The Elsipogtog are expected to hand-deliver a formal letter of eviction, or trespass, to SWN Resources Canada signed by the Mi’kmaq Grand Council and Chief Aaren Sock. This gesture will place the onus of law on the Indian Act, and up the ante in the legal fight for First Nations’ self-determination and land rights.

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