A clash erupted on the Elsipogtog First Nation in New Brunswick Thursday after Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers moved in on peaceful Mi’kmaw Nation demonstrators opposed to hydraulic fracking by Texas-based Southwestern Energy. The demonstrators had been blockading vehicles owned by the company.
There were reports of rubber bullets being fired by police, snipers pointing weaponsat First Nations women and children and police cars lit ablaze.
Academic and activist Pam Palmater wrote an insightful post that touches on the lead-up to today’s incident, a history of clashes between the Canadian state and the Mi’kmaw Nation and provides valuable context. It also offers answers as to what the incident means at a macro-level in the Canadian political economy.
The place of First Nations nationhood in the wider Canadian context ─ especially as it relates to water and earth, which are being industrialized heavily by settler governments ─ is arguably unresolved for many people, both First Nations and Moniyawak* alike.
On the facts, today incident appears to have been an example of the Canadian state employing its coercion monopoly against a recognized nation with legitimate concerns about the sustainability of the water supply. The upshot appears to be that state intended to protect foreign capital.
I believe this is a disproportionate and inappropriate response by the Canadian state. The Elsipogtog First Nation must be treated with respect and play an equal and important role in discussions about what is intended for the land being eyed for fracking.
(*Many thanks to Otâcimow for teaching me, via Twitter, the Cree word for “white person.”)