Really quick…the people of Elsipogtog are out setting up plaques and reclaiming ‘Crown’ lands. Canadians are confused and think the Mi’kmaq are trying to squat.
1. Those lands do not belong to Canada. They were never ceded, and the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed this in 1999.
2. Even with…
Basically what’s going on here is that Southwestern Energy (which owns pipelines and oil and gas extraction projects all over the US) is trying to search for natural gas in shale formations, which they’d likely end up extracting via fracking.
This has angered members of the Mi’kmaw Nation, on whose traditional land the exploration project lies. (The Nation is currently negotiating with the federal government for a comprehensive land-claims agreement with self-governance and so far has signed an “umbrella agreement” with the federal and provincial governments which basically lays out ground rules for eventual negotiations, but that’s nowhere near recognized by federal and provincial governments yet.). Other nearby residents are also not enthusiastic about the process, because of course local residents bear all the environmental costs of the extraction process while all the profits accrue to a nonlocal company.
Anyway, towards the end of September members of the Mi’kmaw Nation and like-minded settler types established a blockade to stop letting through natural gas exploration vehicles. At the beginning of October, Southwestern Energy obtained an injunction to get the protesters to leave. They declined to do so, because a big part of why they were protesting was civil disobedience against a government that has not yet recognized their claim to govern the land and underlying resource extraction projects.
At this point, the standoff between the protesters and the heavily-armed RCMP who were sent in to enforce the injunction has gotten pretty intense. Dozens of protesters have been arrested, the RCMP has apparently been using aggressively physical tactics, several RCMP vehicles have been set on fire, and media access is severely restricted. The CBC has a pretty detailed article, as does the independent pro-Indigenous Intercontinental Cry; their accounts of what’s happening are a little irreconcilable. Also ayiman has been reblogging lots of primary content on tumblr.
Not sure how this is going to end. Solidarity protests are being organized all over North America, but it seems pretty inevitable that the heavily-armed RCMP are going to be able to end the blockade soon. On a larger scale, it’s not clear how this can get translated into the kind of institutional change that would make future blockades unnecessary. Federal and provincial governments are composed of people who care about winning elections more than anything else, and in Canada there’s more sympathetic media coverage of the destruction of half a dozen (insured!) RCMP vehicles than First Nations land claims, so I don’t know what the trajectory would look like between here and changes to regulation for extractive industries or changes to the role of First Nations governments in land use policy. Practically speaking, though, active fracking would not only severely complicate future land claims processes but also quite likely irreversibly contaminate groundwater supplies. So there’s some pretty clear rationale for acting now, even if the probability of success is low.
It’s worth noting that Southwestern Energy stock hasn’t taken much of a hit and Seeking Alpha notes its low political risk. So apparently investors think there’s no realistic chance that the RCMP won’t be successful in enforcing the injunction, removing the blockade, and allowing Southwestern Energy to run hugely profitable natural-gas extraction while offloading the environmental damages on the residents.
I hope this article goes viral and makes a difference.
I think this is the first time I ever lost followers because I started posting again. Hmf.