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Mi'kmaq continue to fight to protect their territory from environmental devastation with a new blockade

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Mi'kmaq continue to fight to protect their territory from the environmental devastation of resource extraction with a new blockade.

This is not the first time land defenders of the Mi'kmaq territory have erected blockades in an attempt to protect their traditional territories from corporate mining and resource acquisition threats.

Known for their fierce resistance to fracking, the Mi'kmaq and Elsipogtog First Nations have been struggling against shale gas fracking on their traditional territory by SWN Resources, along with Acadian and Anglophone allied support.

There was a major showdown on Thursday October 17, 2013, as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) moved in to enforce a court injunction to remove any blockaders from the area.

Rick Rogers, an Anishinaabe Ogichidaa, commented on the actions of the police: "The Canadian nation has existed alongside different Indigenous nations, but this militant action by the RCMP is an act of war."

Forty people were arrested. Communities across Canada slowly began to learn how to pronounce Elsipogtog (Elle-see-book-tuq; which roughly translates into "River of Fire") in the Mikmawisimk language and take notice of the Indigenous resistance in the Maritimes.

The good news -- and a strong show of momentum -- is the exciting fact that the province of Newfoundland and Labrador have established a moratorium on fracking, making the announcement in November 2013 by its Minister of Natural Resources, Derrick Dalley.

He said that his government would not be "accepting applications for onshore and onshore to offshore petroleum exploration using hydraulic fracturing."

"We are thrilled about Newfoundland's moratorium and commend the government's decision. We urge the government to take its time to investigate all the evidence on all aspects of fracking, and be truly consultative by incorporating community and First Nations input into their final decision," says Angela Giles, Atlantic regional organizer for the Council of Canadians.

Now, Chief Andrea Paul of the Pictou Landing First Nation in Nova Scotia has pledged her own people's defense of the environment.

Indigenous demonstrators and their allies are currently blocking access to the Northern Pulp Corp. paper mill's broken wastewater pipe in an attempt to force the company and the premier's office to create and implement a plan to close the Boat Harbour treatment plant and begin an environmental cleanup of the area. The blockade began in the evening of Tuesday June 10, 2014.

This includes preventing the company from using an access road to transport any heavy equipment it would need to fix the underground pipe which community leaders say broke near a traditional Mi'kmaq burial site.

In a phone interview with the Cape Brenton Post, Chief Paul told a reporter, "Now we know nothing is flowing through (the pipe) because they can't do anything until this is fixed." 

The Mi'kmaq community has been concerned that the broken pipe from the Northern Pulp mill has been leaking into the fresh water marshlands and the East River, endangering the environment and the health of their traditional territory. They also resent that the company has yet to release any information concerning how bad the spill was from the 3.6km pipe.

Chief Paul says her community found out about the break through eye witness reports and post made through social media, not from the company itself. 

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