I don’t want any snide or snarky comments to this post as this is an issue for which I am truly saddened.
The median family income on the Richibucto 15 Indian reservation is 62% below the provincial average at only $24,500. 55% of all families are in the bottom decile of income compared to only 10 percent in New Brunswick as a whole. There are few places in Canada as poor as Richibucto 15.
Contrast that with Fort Nelson Indian Reserve in BC where the median family income is more than double Richibucto 15.
Recently the Fort Nelson Indian Reserve signed an agreement with the provincial government that will provide the Reserve “with a share of the revenues generated from resource development in their treaty territory, including the natural gas activities in the Horn River Basin, bringing economic opportunities and fuller participation in the economy”. This is shale gas development.
In New Brunswick, the residents of Richibucto 15 are engaged in a massive attempt to stop seismic testing – on land outside their territory. As reported by the CBC they believe shale gas will destroy the land, the water and now the animals too.
As I say this is truly saddening to me. What is going on? Is this a failure of leadership? Media? What? These natural resources should be a mechanism to help raise these communities out of that poverty and cycle of dependency (35% of total income in Richibucto 15 is from government transfers compared to less than 20% on the Fort Nelson reserve).
I don’t have any answers. Maybe shale gas will destroy life as we know it even as a report today shows that as a result of shale oil and hydraulic fracturing the US will be the world’s #1 producer of oil by 2017.
I worry that this oil and gas revolution will pass us by and we might not even get a chance to determine if our gas can even be developed in the first place.
To what end? The lawyers and former politicians are going to be fine. The retired civil servants on full pension, fine. It will be those living in places like Richibucto 15 that will pay the price and now they are leading the charge.
It’s days like these I regret the line of work I chose to pursue.