This Day in History

Dec. 6, 2013: First Nations Water Warriors Block Fracking

Time Periods: 21st Century
Themes: Climate Justice, Environment, Native American, Organizing, US Foreign Policy, World History/Global Studies
A beautiful reworking of an iconic image from Elsipogtog, by artist Fanny Aishaa. The original photo was taken by Ossie Michelin, a reporter for APTN and the woman is Amanda Polchies.

An artistic rendition of an iconic image from Elsipogtog, by Fanny Aishaa. Original photo by Ossie Michelin, a reporter for APTN. The woman is Amanda Polchies.

On December 6, 2013, Texas-based shale gas company South Western Energy Resources announced that it would cease natural gas exploration in New Brunswick, Canada after mounting public outcry, protests, and a growing blockade orchestrated by First Nations residents.

A coalition including members of the Mi’kmaq Elsipogtog First Nation, French-speaking Acadians, and white anglophone families set up a series of road blockades preventing gas exploration. After months of resistance, the efforts of First Nations demonstrators and allies not only halted drilling, but brought in a new government and, in 2016, won an indefinite moratorium on fracking in the province.

As quoted in The Guardian, former Chief of Elsipogtog Susan Levi-Peters stated, “It is our responsibility to protect Mother Earth, to protect the land for non-natives too. My people are speaking up for everyone.”

According to the Swarthmore’s Global Nonviolent Action Database,

In total, over 100 people were arrested in association with the campaign. Campaigners stopped the South Western effort to prepare for hydro fracturing in Elsipogtog. Mi’kmaq members, including Suzanne Patles, have sworn to continue their struggle if South Western ever returns.

Related Resource

A Storyline production directed by Michael Premo, Water Warriors is a 22-minute short film and exhibition about a community’s fight to protect their water and way and way of life. Find discussion questions, a blockade timeline, and more about Mi’kmaq resistance at this Screening Guide. The film is available to stream at Kanopy.