Elsipogtog: Blockade Begins
On Sunday, 29
September 2013, Elsipogtog women protectors blocked the entrance to a
recently constructed compound housing Southwestern Energy Resources
Canada (SWN) equipment on local Highway 134, near present-day Rexton,
New Brunswick. The compound is located on Elsipogtog
traditional territory, which is unceded land.
Within minutes they
were joined by other indigenous protectors, as well as Acadian and
Anglophone community members. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police
(RCMP) attempted to re-secure the entrance to the compound, but the
unarmed protectors successfully stood their ground. An encampment was
erected. At the time of this release, the blockade has entered its
fifth day. All SWN property within the compound remains untouched and
The week prior to
the stand, Acadian and Anglophone protectors discovered the compound.
Early one morning, five “thumper” trucks were observed entering
the compound. These trucks are used for seismic testing conducted in
preparation for shale gas exploration.
For the first time
in local history, First Peoples, Acadian, and Anglophone communities
have united together in opposition to the proposed shale gas
exploration. The campaign has entered its third year. Despite
multiple petitions, rallies, and pleas, and despite approximately 90%
of the Kent county population standing in opposition, the
conservative provincial government repeatedly declares that “shale
gas exploration will continue.”
The CPT team was
present when the blockade began, and remains within the encampment.
RCMP has blocked the highway at either end of the encampment with
patrol cars and SUVs. While vehicles are not permitted to enter the
encampment, protectors on foot can freely enter and exit. RCMP has
permitted vehicles present on the site before the road blockade to
remain. The CPT car is one such vehicle and the team either sleeps in
the car or in a tent.
remains peaceful. No weapons are present. A continuous flow of people
mingle through the daylight hours and more appear to spend the night.
Moderate RCMP presence remains at either end of the road block, and
when engaged, officers appear relaxed and without hostility during
In what can only be
described as an historic event, Elsipogtog Chief Arren Sock entered
the encampment on Tuesday, October 1, flanked by about 300 people. He
read a recently-enacted Band Council Resolution authorizing the
reclamation of all unoccupied Crown Land, land that has not been
ceded by First Peoples to the Canadian government. He and Band
Council members also issued an eviction notice to SWN, ordering SWN
to leave by midnight, October 1.
SWN has not left.
Protectors are attempting to meet with the provincial government but
to date, the provincial government has refused. Should the meeting
occur, representatives from First Peoples, Acadian, and Anglophone
communities will participate.
Justice Team has provided accompaniment to Elsipogtog protectors
since June 30. The team encourages supporters to read prior team
releases for further background.