Filed under: Action, Anarchist Movement, Development, Environment, Featured, Indigenous, Land, Quebec
In mid-August, a blockade began in Gaspesie, located in so-called Quebec in Canada. The blockade sought to stop the drilling of oil in Mik’maq territory, and was supported in various statements by Mik-maq people. An article published on IGD about the blockade wrote:
On August 7th, militant ecologists established a hard blockade at the entrance to the Galt Site on Mik’maq territory near Gaspé [a city at the tip of the Gaspé Peninsula in the Gaspésie–Îles-de-la-Madeleine region of eastern Quebec, Canada]. This is a highly strategic action, timed several weeks before Junex is slated to begin unconventional horizontal drilling, and just after it was announced that their government cronies will be hooking their pals at Junex up with a cool 8.4 million taxpayer dollars. Because of widespread opposition to fracking in so-called Quebec and the Maritimes, and the fact that Junex is a junior company propped up by government hand-outs, we believe that this is a highly winnable fight.
This is a hard blockade which the militants are prepared to forcibly defend and, as such, represents a stark escalation in ecological resistance in our bioregion. What happens in the next two weeks is critical. It is imperative that we stop the industry from getting a hold in Gaspesie, and now is the time to do it.
The blockade included both Natives and settlers, and although after a few days was taken down by police, we have since seen several other camps spring up to continue the struggle. In a statement from the River Camp:
Three weeks ago, an anonymous blockade of the access road to the Galt sites considerably destabilized the oil company, which until this point had been operating under the radar as much as possible, not even having held a preliminary public consultation on their project. We want to underscore the fact that this new development, which was announced yesterday by the band councils, would probably never have happened without the enormous efforts of the many people struggling on the ground: those who were active during the blockade, the indigenous people and settlers who have been working together at the River Camp, as well as the environmental groups who have been struggling for years in Gaspésie.
The River Camp is alive, active, and here to stay. The temporary halt of Junex’s work is no guarantee that the work will stop forever, nor does it signal the end of fossil fuel exploitation on the territory. We are thus determined to pursue this struggle. The River Camp is a place for organizing, sharing information and exchanging ideas. The need for such spaces, which inspire and make waves far beyond the limits of the camp as such, remains essential. We want an active public conversation, one that takes place horizontally, and it is this that we will continue to nurture. The strength of the relationships created or maintained by the camp is significant.
In September, a call then went out for a week of actions in solidarity with ongoing struggles in and around Gaspesie, against the fossil fuel industry. In the original call, posted to Montreal Counter-Info:
Several groups are currently fighting against the exploitation of hydrocarbons in Gaspesie in order to prevent Junex, Petrolia, Squatex and others industries from sacking the peninsula.
With this in mind, we are calling for the organization of actions through September 4-10 in support of the blockade of the Junex oil wells, the river camp in Gaspe and in solidarity with the municipality of Ristigouche Sud- Est. On September 5, Ristigouche’s lawsuit will be launched by Gastem for $ 1.5 million for a regulation to protect the drinking water sources of its 168 citizens.
Junex Inc. and other petroleum giants have been boosted by recent legislation which seeks to open up more fossil fuel drilling and fracking. Prime Minister Trudeau has also attempted to being into the fold various indigenous nations, as they represent the single biggest threat to the ability of the neoliberal state to push through extractive industrial development.
Camp by the Riviere
Currently, fighting on the front lines against Junex has been the Camp de la Rivière. From their website:
After the dismantling of the barricade, the Camp by the River has become a vantage point in the struggle against hydrocarbons and fracking in Gaspésie. In addition to being the site of senseful everyday interactions, the camp multiplied efforts aiming to build a force capable of opposition the economy of death, the joint efforts of an extractivist State and the oil companies it finances. By gathering inhabitants from everywhere, as much from Gaspésie than the rest of Quebec and the maritimes, it proved that it contains potential for tremendous encounters and alliances.
The August 19th Junext Banquet, which regrouped around 100 people, including two traditional Mi’maq chiefs, shows how the future of the mobilization is promising. In their declaration, they write that “After the dismantling of the blockade, the struggle is just beginning, and coalitions are being formed between Mi’kmaq District Chiefs from the northern and southern ends of our Nation, as well as with land and water protectors from other nations. We call all groups and individuals concerned by the protection of water and land on Gespegawagi territory to voice their support, take action, and join the struggle on site.”
If certain media tried to use the sudden calm to discredit the blockade’s radical gesture, it is necessary to mention that no separation exists between good and bad protectors of land and water. Instead, the division separates, on the one hand, those who protect and care for the territories, and on the other, those who support the extractivist economy’s destructions. The Camp by the River remains in favour of a diversity of tactics, and refuses their pacification: solely defeat is not an option.
Week of Action Begins
The following actions are compiled from MTL Counter-Info:
“A banner drop and flyering at UQAM to kick off the week of action! We’re told that one of the militants encountered a family member of Lavoie, the family of the president and vice-president of Junex. We’re delighted to know that the message will be sent to them directly.”
“A solidarity action from Cégep du Vieux Montreal.”
Fuck that Resources Quebec that invests loads of cash in oil companies, and fuck that Resources Quebec, and fuck that Quebec! Yooouhouuuu Junex, petrolia, IT’S OVER!”
“In the week of action in solidarity with the River Camp, a banner was dropped on the walkway of Cégep St-Laurent, reading “Fuck oil companies, solidarity against Junex”. Several students distributed fliers announcing a demonstration in solidarity with the River Camp. Due to positions and mandates against hydrocarbons, the AECSL (Student association of Cégep de Saint-Laurent) supports all initiatives that aim to struggle against oil companies. Solidarity!”
“During the night of July 13th to 14th, 2017, Forces Écosocialistes [Ecosocialist Forces] took action by arsoning the equipment of the oil company Squatex, located in Bas-St-Laurent. An article describing the act was first published by Radio-Canada, then republished by Mtlcounter-info and finally by Earthfirst. The events were described as “suspicious”, to use the exact wording of the police and the journalist.
Two months have now passed since this attack against the oil company. And it’s in the current context of increased resistance to fossil fuel development on Québécois soil that we decide to affirm the volontary and thought-out character of the action. Our claim arrives, then, following the occupation of the company Junex’s Galt site and numerous banner drops on university campuses. Admirable individuals are rising to affirm their will to expel this oil industry garbage from the territory and we want to commend their courage and determination. We also want to insist on one point: alongside Junex there are other active companies that are just as destructive.
Squatex’s development site consisted of four principal structures. The flames spared just one, containing only certain metal equipment like pipes and other non-flammable objects. The other structures were: a lift truck, the drilling container, and a trailer connected to a water reservoir. They were all doused in gasoline and lit on fire. The pictures available on the Radio-Canada article attest to the success of our action. The spared structure allowed us to write the name of our group in black paint: Forces Écosocialistes [Ecosocialist Forces]. Three separate structures burning simultaneously with a tag well in sight: “suspicious” indeed.
Isn’t it ironic to destroy the oil company with the very substance it wants to put to market? Let’s at least say that if this dirty energy wasn’t available, we wouldn’t have had to destroy it. Like capitalism, it creates the weapons that will provoke its fall.
Many projects are now in progress in Bas-St-Laurent and Gaspésie. The most popular among them is without doubt that of Junex near Gaspé. However, there are other, lesser known projects that equally deserve special attention. That of Squatex – the structures have not yet been repaired, but the company still has the permits – in the Mitis MRC or that of Petrolympic which is coveting the ZEC BSL.
Estimates sent to Radio-Canada by Mario Lévesque, lobbyist and pig in chief of Squatex, suggest that there are potentially 52 million barrels of oil buried in Bas-St-Laurent. There’s lots to make the capitalists salivate and lots of reasons to prepare the resistance.
Certain voices spoke out against the Petrolympic project. First, the ZEC board of administrators fiercely opposed the presence of the oil company. Then, certain indigenous groups also had their say. The mayors of the municipalities of the MRC also took a position against the project. Since then there has been no news, and Petrolympic remains silent as to its intentions. We need to be on guard.
We, as activists, believe in a diversity of tactics. Consequently, we give equal value to occupations, banner drops, and direct actions like the one we proudly carried out. For what it’s worth, we wish to insist on our unconditional support for the anti-oil and pro-environment movement that we all help create.
So Junexit and Squatexit too! Let’s tell Petrolympic: get out! Forces Écosocialistes will work to preserve the environment and will continue affirming that green capitalism, or sustainable development tied to economic growth, is an oxymoron as well as unrealistic, a lie of the ruling class. Open respect for biodiversity, the protection of the climate and natural environments, and the struggle around the various environmental issues can be realized only with the departure of capitalism. And against oil, we will need to target all of our enemies.
“Friends in Sherbrooke did a banner drop yesterday morning on the Terrill bridge, close to the Cégep and downtown Sherbrooke, in solidarity with the river camp and against the oil industry plundering. This small visibility action is embedded within the week of action called for by the camp!”
“On Sunday September 10, we mobilized in solidarity with the ongoing resistance against the extractive oil industry in Gaspésie, in particular, Junex and its investors. Corporations like Junex (and their investors) collude with provincial and federal governments. These collaborations exemplify how neoliberal capitalism (as the current economic and political context) functions to sustain the settler-colonial state of Canada. Recently announced legislation allowing for drilling and fracking in rivers and lakes within so-called Quebec demonstrates such complicity to the point of absurdity – the state no longer seems to even care about making it appear that its role is neutral in paving the way for the poisoning of water and land for capitalist profit.”
“Pipelines are war; one built from the insatiable greed of corporations which have normalized violence against the land and its living. Our resolve within this struggle intensifies with each audacious assault Enbridge launches; each time they dismiss the concerns and requests of Indigenous Nations. Every court proceeding. Every act of intimidation. Every lie or false claim of safety or necessity. We’ve had enough.
So back when Enbridge started shipping in pipeline segments for their line 10 expansion, we started sabotaging them.”
“We received this photo of solidarity made by gentes involved in the fight against Junex oil in Mi’kmaw territory not ceded (territory known as Gaspésie). Located in eastern Quebec, the “Gaspé Peninsula” is threatened on all sides by new regulations that allow oil extraction in the region. Last August, dozens of environmentalists and anti-colonial activists blocked access to a Junex drilling site for several days. Following their expulsion, they found themselves on the side of Route 198 where a solidarity camp had been set up. The “River Camp” (or “Junexit”) will soon begin its second month of existence and the gentes on the spot is now preparing to face the winter!
NO TO PETROLEUMS! NO TO NUCLEAR! One world, one struggle!”
The Struggle Continues
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