Fractured land, A first-hand account of resistance to fracking on Blood land

Fractured land, A first-hand account of resistance to fracking on Blood land by ELLE-MÁIJÁ TAILFEATHERS, February, 28 2012, Briar Patch
The proprietary nature of fracking chemicals keeps them largely hidden from the public; however, it is known that chemicals such as benzene, lead, boric acid, and toluene are often used in the process. It is estimated that only 30 to 50 per cent of fracking fluids are recovered after the process, leaving toxic waste to seep into the groundwater and soil surrounding the well. Given the incredibly toxic nature of this form of extraction, fracking has been banned in numerous countries and states around the world. Unfortunately, it remains unregulated in Canada.

Indigenous peoples are in a unique position as a population living on the margins of Canadian society, faced with a long list of social issues due to a violent history of colonialism. Because of our resource-rich lands and our unique relationship with the Crown, we find ourselves targets for resource development companies. This is manifested in the rhetoric of “economic development,” which is the ideology that purports to solve today’s “Indian Problem” by extracting resources from our land and, in theory, generating employment and sustainable futures for Indigenous peoples. However, economic development rarely plays out this way in real life. Instead, resource development companies bring in their own trained staff for the short-term period of development contracts, typically leaving Indigenous communities with the task of cleaning up the mess. Indigenous peoples are not the same as other Canadians in the eyes of the law – nor should we be. However, as long as the issue of Aboriginal rights and title to land and resources remains unresolved, resource development companies can essentially do as they wish with Indigenous lands and resources without being held accountable to provincial and federal governments. These governments in turn benefit from the exploitation of resources on Indigenous land.

Despite our efforts, fracking went ahead on Blood land. Ultimately, this is what led a small group of peaceful protesters to gather and establish a blockade on September 9, 2011. Since then, Kainai residents have begun to witness the effects of fracking first-hand. So far, two earthquakes have been recorded on Blood land, and the distinct fume of sour gas is seemingly always present near the well sites. On a particularly windy day in early December 2011, a number of students at the Kainai middle school became physically ill, experiencing vomiting and dizziness after exposure to the sour gas fumes from a nearby well site. This is all deeply troubling, and the situation will likely only get worse as long as fracking continues on Blood land.

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