Police cars burn at a Mi'kmaq protest against shale-gas exploration in New Brunswick, Canada

Police in Riot Gear Tear-Gas and Shoot Mi'kmaq Protesting Gas Exploration in New Brunswick

Martha Troian

Chaos has erupted as Chief Arren Sock and council members from Elsipogtog First Nation are among at least 40 people arrested by riot-gear-clad police raiding a Mi'kmaq blockade protesting shale gas exploration in New Brunswick. 

Details are still emerging, but amateur photos and video have appeared online showing heavily armed police on the site and what appear to be snipers in nearby fields and forests. There are also photos of several police vehicles on fire. Those arrested, which may include elders conducting ceremonies at the site, are being detained by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). There were also some reports of shots fired. 

Early this morning, hundreds of RCMP moved in to the site of a blockade that had been set up on provincial route 134 near Rexton, New Brunswick. They were enforcing an injunction that would end the blockade set up by Mi'kmaq protesters and their supporters. 

Tear gas and even rubber bullets were used during the RCMP raid. An untold number of protesters were arrested (some say more than 30), several reporting that they were “roughed up” by officers. Elders who had been conducting ceremonies at the site have been arrested as well.

Sock and at least one of his council members from the Elispogtog First Nation were among those rounded up by police and were being held by the RCMP. News of the police action spread fast on social media, and people near the protest say supporters are supposedly beginning to pour in from neighboring Nova Scotia but also as far away as Alberta.

More photos on social media show dozens of vehicles supposedly belonging to supporters lining the highway, arriving to support the Mi'kmaq.

Indian Country Today Media Network spoke with Floyd Augustine, who says he is currently in charge of the Mi'kmaq Warrior Society, a group who says they've been tasked with defending Mi'kmaq lands and communities. He says he's trying to rally what warriors were not arrested—including his own brother—and plan their next steps.

The protests began last spring, when Texas-based natural resources company SWN Canada began exploring for natural gas deposits in the region. Opponents to the exploration worry that it will soon lead to hydraulic fracturing, the practice known as fracking that involves injecting noxious chemicals into the ground to break out the oil and gas deposits.

At last report, police had donned riot gear, and APTN described the scene as “chaotic.” Elsipogtog Warriors told Indian Country Today Media Network that they have put out a worldwide call for Sacred Fires to begin, and blockades were set to run all over the country. 

Reaction has reached all the way to New York City, where a protest is planned at 5:30 p.m. today in front of the Canadian Embassy. 

RELATED: First Nation Moves to Evict Fracking Co. From Lands Held in Trust


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Sierra86's picture
Submitted by Sierra86 on
Watch on the Cdn news tonight the highlight will be on the vandalized RCMP cars and the indigenous protesters will be criminalized. No mention will likely be made about the police and their apparent rubber bullets. The segment will likely be slanted in favor of the mining exploration and how much wealth and jobs it will create in New Brunswick. No mention will be made of previous police raids with machine guns on indigenous protesters in Oka, Quebec in 1990; in Ipperwash, Ontario in 1995 and Gustafsen Lake in B.C. also in 1995 and now there in New Brunswick.

Alice's picture
Submitted by Alice on
why is it always first nation being treated like we don't belong , when all we want is to protect our land for our children and yours. We have people come here for other countries and get to keep all their customs believes and the government is there to support them, but we get shot at and dragged away and lucked up when we stand up for ourselves. We want to protect the land for all Canadians.

Bernadette Kelly's picture
Bernadette Kelly
Submitted by Bernadette Kelly on
Should be no fracking.....the land belongs to the mi!Kmaq people...done right thing block it

Bernadette Kelly's picture
Bernadette Kelly
Submitted by Bernadette Kelly on
Should be no fracking.....the land belongs to the mi!Kmaq people...done right thing block it

pat wells's picture
pat wells
Submitted by pat wells on
If I burned some police vehicles and blockaded any road in Canada I would be arrested and charged, so should anyone else!

Jim Shephard's picture
Jim Shephard
Submitted by Jim Shephard on
God bless the native people for at least trying to save a land that has been home to them for thousands of years. They are not in this for monetary gains like the oil companies are. When will our governments and learn that the land we live on is sacred. Fracking is disastrous to the environment. Let the Texans mine their own property and stay off of our beautiful and pristine land.

Reverend Rokie Stetson's picture
Reverend Rokie ...
Submitted by Reverend Rokie ... on
I say it time we stop doing what ever we want .there lands need to be left alone The Elders know there lands let them pick what is best. Dont you think we have took enough. May God (creator) watch over you and your lands.

Tu tu 's picture
Tu tu
Submitted by Tu tu on
Bless the mi'kmaq they are in the right!!!!!! so they will win the fight with this greedy company who wants to destroy the earth!!!!!!

Carol Ioannides's picture
Carol Ioannides
Submitted by Carol Ioannides on
I am appalled by the action of the Canadian police. That fracking is a destructive mess & needs to be banned. Money shouldn't rule everything and allow the destruction of the land, here in the U.S. and in Canada.

satya's picture
Submitted by satya on
fuck you SWN Canada! Full support to all people defending the health of the earth!

bob carter's picture
bob carter
Submitted by bob carter on
So interesting. Curious in knowing what the people here actually know about energy exploration. With their existing infrastructure they should be able to democratically handle their land and benefits. So why riot. If the Premier is not listening then vote him out. Your care for the future should motivate all persons in New Brunswick.

walkinturtle's picture
Submitted by walkinturtle on
Just to clarify, it is not Canadian is First Nation Land... it was invaded... when your children become sick from the toxins flushed into your aquifers ... when the lands of Canada succumb to the damage of fracking... then perhaps you will simply lay down and except your fate along with your child's... but First Nations are part of the land, and have not forgotten our place within the hoop. We will stand for those who cannot or will not stand for themselves. We will honor our mother and will forever stand strong for her. We are the land!

tu tu uaxri's picture
tu tu uaxri
Submitted by tu tu uaxri on
fithy cops, puting there hand on those sacred native people, the real caretakers of mother earth,, the ones who have the spiritual power, shame on all of those greedy heartless lizards

Anonymous's picture
Submitted by Anonymous on
Im happy to see our people standing up and fighting for our land still. more then fired up to join the fight

Linda Rock 's picture
Linda Rock
Submitted by Linda Rock on
I stand with my brothers and sisters against the SWN Canada or any other oil or gas company that tries to destroy our land .

Linda Rock
Linda Rock
Submitted by Linda Rock on
Leave it to some smuck to make this about Obama and the US . Did you even read the article anonymous ? If you had read it you would have known it was about the First Nations protest against fracking in Canada and had nothing to do with the Us or Obama other than the gas company is Texas based . Get a grip !