Since early last night, a group of Indigenous women who are members of the Blood Nation (also known as the Kainai), located just west of Lethbridge, Alberta, have been blocking the road leading to one of the hydraulic fracturing (fracking) sites of Murphy Oil — one of two companies which have signed leases to frack on the reserve that is home to some 10,000 members. The women have vowed not to move until plans for fracking are stopped.
The women are part of the Kainai Earth Watch, and have been active advocates to stop the fracking due to the major threat to human health, wildlife and livestock and the irreversible damage to the land and water on the Blood Reserve and surrounding areas. They say this action is the only choice left to them to stop the fracking operations, four of which were scheduled to begin today.
In late 2010, Kainaiwa Resources Inc. (KRI) quietly signed off on a deal with the Calgary-based junior mining company Bowood Energy and the U.S. company Murphy Oil. In exchange for the $50 Million, Bowood Energy and Murphy Oil gained a five-year lease to roughly 129,280 acres — almost half of the Blood’s reserve — for oil and gas exploration. The two companies will be allowed frack no fewer than 16 drill sites on the reserve.
Since that time local residents of the Blood Nation and surrounding communities have come together to oppose the projects. Members of the Kainai Earth Watch have partnered with numerous community groups, including the Lethbridge Chapter of the Council of Canadians, to host educational workshops, organize petitions, and meet with government officials. Despite their efforts, nothing has been effective in actually preventing the fracking from going ahead.
As of early this afternoon, Lois Frank, one of the women who are occupying the road, says that the blockade is still in place and the operation has not yet started. The women have been threatened with arrest, but no timelines have been given.
People interested in supporting this action can contact Lois Frank at 403-795-7945 or Mike Bruised Head at 403-737-2194 for more information. We will update the situation when more information is available.
You can also visit the site to stand in solidarity with the women’s blockade. Directions to the site are: Take Hwy #2 South, just after Standoff at the large Blue Co-op at the Blood Nation turn East. Follow the road 5 mins and you can’t miss it.
In June of this year, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow was taken on a tour of the reserve by members of the Blood Nation. At the time, she wrote, “I had the honour of spending the day on the Blood Reserve yesterday, and while I was amazed at the beauty I saw, I was very distressed at the poverty and environmental degradation present there as well. I want to declare my strong support for those members of the Blood community who are resisting a massive new fracking operation planned for the reserve. Fracking requires the injection of tons of sand, millions of litres of water and a cocktail of hundreds of dangerous chemicals at high pressure into shale rock where it shatters the rock like a stone cracking a windshield, releasing the gas. Fracking on the Blood Reserve will poison the community’s water supplies and endanger the Oldman River, the water supply for the City of Lethbridge. The University of Lethbridge has a world class water department and it is my hope that it will use its resources to support the struggle for water justice on the Blood Reserve and across Alberta.”