Last week that protest resulted in the blockade of a compound where N.B. natural gas and oil exploration company SWN Resources stores its equipment and vehicles. 40 people were arrested and weapons were seized when RCMP enforced an injunction to end the blockade, which has since been lifted.
“We are deeply saddened by the escalation to violence in the past weeks resulting from the Elsipogtog community not being allowed to voice their concerns against destructive resource extraction in their territory,” says Treaty 8 Tribal Chief Liz Logan. “We are urging a more peaceful approach and strongly suggest that companies and our government respect the Elsipogtog by stopping this disrespectful disregard for the immediate and long term impacts of gas development.”
Treaty 8 has dealt with resource development companies and the government for several decades, and says it knows all too well the “lack of a careful and collaborative approach”, impacting the First Nations’ ability to use the land, drink the water and support local wildlife. Chief Roland Willson points to the example of the West Moberly First Nation, who recently went to court to protect the Burnt Pine Caribou Herd, as it felt it was not properly protected from the construction of a nearby mine.
“It is an embarrassment that we have to force our elected officials to realize that money does not take precedent over the livelihood of human beings,” he says. “First Nations cannot continue to let money hungry governments open the door to industry development at all costs. There is an obligation of the Crown to work with First Nations to find a balance between economic development and protecting our lands and resources for future generations.”
In a release, Treaty 8 maintain that it is in support of resource development when it is done in cooperation with First Nations, and short and long-term social, economic, and environmental aspects are taken into consideration.