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Elsipogtog First Nation v. Fracking, NB, Canada


From late May to August 2013, The Miqmaq community of Elsipogtog in New Brunswick has maintained a sacred fire and a blockade near the junction of highways 126 and 116 west to symbolize a new boundary for fracking in the area.

The fire and gathering have impeded seismic testing trucks or 'thumpers' believed to signal the beginning of shale gas fracking exploration in the area. The region is currently under lease to SWN Resources.

There are about 10 companies licensed to explore for shale gas in the province but SWN Resources is the only one doing seismic testing at the moment.

At the end of May, Noel Augustine, a leader of the local council, sent the following message to SWN headquarters: 'The Migmag Grand Council of the Signigtog district, District 6 hereby gives public notice to all potential developers, the Government of Canada, and the province of New Brunswick, that pursuant to our Indigenous and Inherent rights as the righfull and lawfull owners of all Signigtog District Lands and resources, that no shale gas exploration and/or development or gas line shall proceed within our district without the expressed written consent and full participation of the Migmag Grand Council and the migmag people of the Signigtog District.' In response to the blockade, the province sent in massive numbers of RCMP to clear the highway. The community responded by inviting, all Idle No More & Defenders of the Land - Sovereignty Summer - activists, allies and supporters, and partnership organizations to join its stand to defend the land and water.

Over a few weeks in June, the RCMP has arrested 33 protesters, including children and elders, at various demonstrations in Kent County in recent weeks. Following this, in August some unspecified 'industrial equipment' was torched.

SWN stopped its exploration work at the end of July as a result of a negotiated detente following intensifying protests. The company, however, is widely expected to return to finish its exploration work this month.

The Mi'kmaq Warrior Society has promised to again bolster protests against the exploration work saying they will use 'any means necessary' to stop shale gas exploration on their territory.

The Mi'kmaq Warrior Society believes that the Canadian military has a duty to protect the Mi'kmaq nation from 'enemies, both foreign and domestic' under Peace and Friendship Treaties signed between Mi'kmaq and the British Crown.

Stephanie Merrill of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick said her group was surprised to learn that the Environment Department issued a permit allowing SWN Resources to conduct seismic testing in wetlands in eight counties in the province.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Elsipogtog First Nation v. Fracking, NB, Canada
State or province:New Brunswick
Location of conflict:Elsipogtog First Nation, Moncton, Kent County
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Shale gas fracking
Specific commodities:Natural Gas

Project Details and Actors

Project details

According to the Premier of the province, new regulations for fracking include a requirement for exploratory wells to have a double casing to protect surrounding groundwater. Oil and gas companies also have to buy $10 million in liability insurance to cover personal injury or damage to property or the environment.

Project area:1000000
Level of Investment for the conflictive project45000000
Type of populationRural
Company names or state enterprises:Southwestern Energy Resources from Canada
Relevant government actors:New Brunswick Government, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canadian Military
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Mikmaq nation, Idle No More, The Kahnawake Warrior Society, Miqmaq Warrior Society, Council of Canadians, Conservation Council of New Brunswick

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Social movements
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Property damage/arson
Threats to use arms
Arguments for the rights of mother nature


Environmental ImpactsPotential: Desertification/Drought, Fires, Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Potential: Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Militarization and increased police presence, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place


Project StatusProposed (exploration phase)
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Strengthening of participation
Proposal and development of alternatives:Asking for a moratorium on fracking and recognition of their right to free prior and informed consent over projects in their territory.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Currently the company has withdrawn but plans to try to re-enter the territory soon.

Sources & Materials

Tensions escalating in northern New Brunswick as anti-fracking protest continues, APTN

New Brunswick Government, Natural Gas

No need to worry about shale gas testing: New Brunswick premier, National Post

New Brunswick: truck seizure, road block, ends peacefully despite RCMP negotiation failure.

Elsipogtog anti-fracking protester: no more games

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

People arrested at Anti Shale Protest on Route 126 in Kent Country

Meta information

Contributor:Leah Temper
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:385