A sacred fire burns at the Ontario Native Women's Association Friday.
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Thunder Bay was one of dozens of cities across the country Friday with a sacred fire burning in solidarity with a New Brunswick First Nation.
For weeks members of Elsipogtog, near Rexton, N.B., had set up a blockade to protect traditional hunting grounds from fracking, a controversial process that extracts shale gas.
SWN Resources, the company conducting tests in the area, claimed they were losing $60,000 a day due to the blockade and received an injunction for the Elsipogtog members to be removed.
Armed RCMP officers moved in to stop the blockade Thursday morning, resulting in tear gas and rubber bullets being fired. Forty people were arrested and five vehicles torched in the aftermath of the RCMP’s intervention.
Robert Animikki Horton, who visited a sacred fire at the Ontario Native Women's Association in Thunder Bay Friday morning, said the federal government showed its true colours Thursday by putting private economic interests above people's safety.
Media reports indicate that women, children and elders were present when the trouble began.
"The violence showed to our relatives was unacceptable," Animikii Horton said. "They've been peaceful and suddenly RCMP and tactical units are pulling out sniper rifles and automatic weapons. Elders are there they were hurt. It's unacceptable."
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Animikii Horton said Elsipogtog is a turning point in First Nations relations with Canada and reminded him of the Oka crisis of the early 90s, a clash that say one person dead.
"I think it's bigger than Idle No More, what I see happening," he said. "This is just the beginning."
"What's happening over in Mi'kmaq territory in my heart of hearts I believe is just the first of many assaults on the environment, on our nations and people need to wake up and stand up and speak up."
The fire, which burns until 4 p.m., had seen around 50 people come and go by early Friday afternoon.
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