Published Wednesday, November 6, 2013 6:31PM AST
Anticipation is growing as protesters await the arrival of SWN Resources to resume shale gas testing in Rexton, N.B.
When they do, First Nations members plan to light a sacred fire that, according to tradition, can’t be crossed without permission for four days after it is lit.
“We believe there’s spirits there and ancestors arrive here to help use and to protect us,” says sun dancer Louis Jerome. “This is why the sacred fire is very important.”
The protesters hope the lighting of the sacred fire will stop shale gas exploration in Rexton.
“They have to really respect that because we cannot move, even the RCMP, they can’t move that,” says Jerome.
Police say they don’t have a problem with the sacred fire, as long as it’s off the road.
However, police say the protesters could be breaking the law if they light the fire too close to the highway, which could endanger motorists and the public.
“I think it’s really important for people to understand that public safety is paramount and that anybody lighting a fire or blocking a road is certainly putting people’s lives at risk,” says RCMP Const. Julie Rogers-Marsh.
SWN Resources was supposed to resume shale gas testing this week but the easily recognizable thumper trucks are nowhere to be seen.
However, geophones lining sections of the highway suggest the company is present.
As support for the protesters continues to grow, it appears neither side is backing down.
On Tuesday, Premier David Alward reconfirmed his commitment to shale gas exploration and protesters reconfirmed their commitment to stopping it.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Jonathan MacInnis