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Elsipogtog protest adds fuel to Global Frackdown fire

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October 19 was the second annual Global Frackdown, an international day of action with communities around the world calling for a ban on fracking. Over 250 events were and are still being organized in 30 countries including Argentina, Canada, France, India, Romania, South Africa, the U.K. and the U.S.

This year's Global Frackdown was timely in that just days before, the Elsipogtog First Nation in New Brunswick were confronted by RCMP for actively opposing shale gas development on their territory. New Brunswickers have been opposing fracking/shale gas development for years and the Elsipogtog First Nation for months. The Elsipogtog had led a peaceful blockade of SWN Resources' vehicles for seismic testing for fracking since September 30 and the RCMP had been present since then. However, on the morning of October 17, the RCMP moved in on the Elsipogtog and their supporters at the blockade.

The excessive use of force -- many images of the RCMP in riot gear and snipers are floating online and there are accounts of the use of tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets -- sparked a wave of solidarity events in communities around the world.

Media reports focused on the images of burning cars and weapons found at the blockade. However, it's critical to remain focused on the purpose of the Elsipogtog blockade which was to protect the land, water and people. Despite the lack of free, prior and informed consent of the Elsipogtog, the opposition that New Brunswickers have to shale gas and the Assembly of First Nations' Chiefs in New Brunswick calling on the province to revoke shale gas exploration permits, the New Brunswick government is moving full steam ahead with fracking without due consideration to the long term and cumulative impacts on communities' drinking water, health and greenhouse gas emissions.

A 2012 poll commissioned by the Council of Canadians showed that 66 per cent of people in Atlantic Canada want a moratorium on all fracking for natural gas until federal environmental reviews are complete. A poll released by NOFRAC this week showed that 69 per cent of Nova Scotians support a continued moratorium on fracking, unless an independent review finds there is no risk to drinking water, human health, the climate or communities.

Communities like the Elsipogtog have had to take up what should be governments' responsibility to protect the people not the interest of gas companies. The Elsipogtog's commitment to protect the land and water resonated with many people around the world and provided fuel to the anti-fracking fire. Here are some of the Elsipogtog solidarity and Global Frackdown events that Council of Canadians chapters and allies organized or participated in: (see ** for upcoming events)

- Courtney, B.C./ Unceded Coast Salish Territories - Gasland film screening

- Inverness, N.S. – Celebration of the first by-law to ban fracking within county limits

- Lethbridge. A.B. -  Rally

- Moncton, N.B. -  Global Frackdown and Elsipogtog event

- Nanaimo, B.C./ Unceded Coast Salish Territories - Elsipogtog solidarity rally

- Online – the Council of Canadians is gathering signatures to urge MPs to ban fracking

- Ottawa, O.N./Unceded Algonquin Territory – Don't frack with our water workshop at the Day of Information for A Lifetime of Action youth conference

- **Saskatoon, Sask. - Frack 'n' Roll Workshop at Groundswell: Grassroots Power in the Age of Extreme Energy conference on Saturday, October 28

- **Saskatoon, Sask. - Gasland and Gasland II Screening including a Q&A with Josh Fox on Thursday, October 26

- St. Johns, N.L. -  Facts on Fracking session

- Stephenville, N.L. -  Fracking Awareness Information Booth

- Toronto, Ont./ Mississauga's New Credit First Nation and Six Nations - Elsipogtog solidarity and Line 9 event

- **Winnipeg - Red Feather Campaign, Frack Zombie Walk and Care Package Drive for the Elsipogtog on Friday, October 25

- Whitehorse, Yukon - Rally and presentation 

- Yellowknife, N.W.T. - Rally

- Vancouver,  B.C./ Unceded Coast Salish Territories - Elsipogtog solidarity rally Windsor, Ont. - Gasland II screening and Idle No More rally at RCMP office

Governments and industry often pit job creation against water and environmental protection but it is their responsibility to create sustainable and ethical jobs that don't put our drinking water and health at risk. We are increasingly seeing indigenous communities pick up the slack of provincial and federal governments and putting themselves on the frontlines to defend the water, land and democracy and for that they deserve our gratitude, solidarity and support.  

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