Halifax, NS – Representatives of several Halifax-based environmental, social justice and cultural groups are condemning the heavy-handed actions of the RCMP which have led to the arrest of 12 protesters seeking to halt the advance of fracking in Kent County, NB, north of Moncton.
Members of the Council of Canadians, The Sierra Club of Canada and other concerned citizens visited the sacred fire yesterday and were outraged to learn that the RCMP had made several arrests this morning in order to facilitate the exploratory drilling of the area by SWN Resources, a Houston-based corporation. SWN’s massive 2.5 million-acre hydraulic fracturing project in New Brunswick could damage waterways and ecological systems across the Atlantic region.
“Where is the media?” asks Angela Giles, Atlantic regional organizer with the Council of Canadians. “And how is this democracy? The New Brunswick government has not been given the mandate to move ahead with shale gas development. The RCMP are paid with public money and then are assigned to protect private interests over the interests of the people... This is not right.”
Billy Lewis, Mi’kmaq elder, also visited and prayed at the Sacred Fire in Elsipogtog yesterday. “This is Indigenous land and there is a duty to consult Mi’kmaq and Maliseet, and they weren’t consulted. These actions affect the land, the treaties and all of us.”
“In visiting the site yesterday, I was struck by the determination to protect their health and the environment from fracking,” says Gretchen Fitzgerald, Director of Sierra Club Canada – Atlantic. “I’m amazed the lengths that everyday people have to go to in order to protect the water, the land, the air, and we owe them our gratitude.”
Since the protests began last Tuesday, there have been reports of aggressive RCMP behaviour, and as of today a total of 17 people arrested. However these protests have been an historic coming together of Acadian, Anglophone and Indigenous communities in the province working together to assert their community rights and protect the water, land and all of us.
Several groups have expressed solidarity with these actions, including but not limited to Sierra Club of Canada – Atlantic Canada Chapter, the Council of Canadians and NOFRAC.