Hundreds of protesters crowded the front of the provincial legislature in Fredericton on Tuesday, demonstrating against shale gas exploration in New Brunswick.

The protest coincided with the day of the throne speech, in which the Alward government pledged to forge ahead with exploiting the province’s natural resources.

Outside, protesters demanded a stop to shale gas exploration and development of the industry in the province, which they fear could cause environmental damage, including contamination of groundwater supplies.

“They go into the community to exploit the people of the community,” said protester Charles Richard. “Once they exploit them, take everything, they pack their bags and they go. That’s why they call them carpetbaggers.”

Police estimated there were between 350 and 400 protesters. The Council of Canadians say they counted 650.

The anti-shale gas protesters headed out for a march in the city, ending with speeches and songs on Fredericton's green, just down the street from the legislature. A native longhouse and three teepees lined the Saint John River.

Twelve-year-old Isaac Cyr was one of the youngest protesters. He’s from the Elsipogtog First Nation, which has been at the centre of major anti-shale demonstrations in Rexton, including a violent clash with RCMP on Oct. 17 that ended in 40 arrests.

"At the Rexton site I was the fire keeper for four days," he said. "I maintained the fire, the sacred fire."

Anti-shale gas protesters weren't the only demonstrators outside the legislature. A small group of paramedics gathered, unhappy with cuts to the night shift in the Chipman area.

"Our concern is that a trial layoff will impact emergency services throughout the greater Fredericton and Grand Lake area," said Trent Piercy, president of the paramedic union.