Treaties and Land Claims: Current Problems

NB


April 13, 2021


Duty to Consult/FPIC

Ongoing failure to consult with Wolastoqey Chiefs

Wolastoqey Chiefs – Premier Blaine Higgs cancelled all tax revenue sharing agreements with New Brunswick First Nations that had been in place for over 25 tears. These agreements were established to offset the ongoing significant gap “in the per capita funding federal and provincial governments provide for education and social services for First Nations reserves’ throughout Canada compared to funding levels off-reserve for similar services.

“With the recent court decision siding with the Wolastoqey on the matter of these tax agreements giving us faith that the justice system here isn’t totally broken, this decision by the Premier to find an alternative door out of these agreements shows that this government is, in fact totally broken,” said Chief Bernard. “This settler government has little interest in a meaningful relationship with the original peoples of this territory beyond how much more money it can leech from our resources, be it natural or financial.”

Background on Higgs’ history on tax-sharing agreements:

  • In 2014, without consulting Premier David Alward or his cabinet colleagues, he issued a notice to cancel tax sharing agreements with First Nations days before a provincial election call citing his view that helping minorities was unfair to the majority he represents.
  • In 2020, he engineered his carbon tax in such a way that several million was taken away from First Nations despite designing special measures so that the provincial government lost no revenue and that the natural gas distributor lost no revenue from the carbon tax.
  • In 2020, he overruled his own minister of Aboriginal affairs to block an inquiry into systemic racism and in response dumped that minister from cabinet and relegated the portfolio to a part-time job.
  • In 2021, despite an ongoing court proceeding he proactively telephoned several reporters to speak against the tax-sharing agreements and issued a statement trying to defend his position.
  • In 2021, the courts ruled his plan to use the carbon tax as an excuse to take money from First Nation initiatives to boost their economies, reduce poverty and fund social services was against the law. Government has refused to comment on this decision until now.

“The fact that the Premier made a point to suggest that First Nations don’t pay taxes but access the same programs as the rest of the province and perpetuate this racist stereotype is frightening,” Bernard said. “It is well documented that First Nations aren’t able to access health, education or other social support on a level equal to non- Indigenous Canadians.”

To add insult to injury, Chief Bernard said she and other Chiefs received an invitation from the finance minister with only two-hours’ notice to be briefed after the fact on today’s announcement


December 1, 2021


Land Claims

Peace and Friendship Treaties 1725 & 1778

APTN- The chiefs of Wolastoqey Nation have added to their lawsuit against the province of New Brunswick, this time adding a number of corporations for conducting business on their territory without consent…the chiefs said that the corporations operate on “20 percent of the more than five million hectares identified in the claim as the traditional lands of the Wolastoqey in New Brunswick.

“These private companies are beneficiaries of the land, water, and resources that were illegally taken from us,” says Patricia Bernard, chief of Matawaskiye First Nation. “This is our traditional, unceded and un-surrendered land and we are owed compensation for the last two hundred years of land and resource theft.” The corporations named Tuesday are include J.D. Irving, Limited and “18 of its subsidiaries or related entities;” NB Power; Acadian Timber; Twin Rivers Paper; HJ Crabbe & Sons; and A.V. Group.

Today, the Wolastoqey chiefs filed a new version of their title claim, focusing on major forestry companies that occupy traditional lands. The lawsuit now includes major forestry companies including J.D. Irving and the province’s power utility over exploration on traditional lands without consent.


October 15, 2021


Land Claims

Peace and Friendship Treaties 1725 & 1778

Government of New Brunswick – GNB new policy on territorial land acknowledgment which forbids GNB staff from issuing territorial or title acknowledgments, is purported to be in partial response to the Wolastoqey title claim. We were forced to file a title claim because our rights continue to be ignored by GNB. Now, in response to this, the Province seeks to further trample our rights and erase us from the history of this province.
We have unceded Aboriginal title in the province of New Brunswick. That is a historical fact that the provincial government is simply going to have to come to terms with as representatives of the Crown here in New Brunswick.


October 5, 2020


Land Claims

Peace and Friendship Treaties 1725 & 1778

NationTalk – The six Wolastoqey Communities in New Brunswick – Matawaskiye (Madawaska), Neqotkuk (Tobique), Wotstak (Woodstock), Pilick (Kingsclear), Sitansisk (St. Mary’s) and Welamukotuk (Oromocto) – announced they will be filing a lawsuit seeking the Court’s recognition of the Wolastoqey Nation’s title to lands in New Brunswick. Between 1725 and 1778, the Wolastoqey Nation negotiated and entered into Treaties with the Crown, known as the Peace and Friendship Treaties. The Crown did not honour the Treaties, and took Wolastoqey lands without consent, and pushed the Wolastoqey people into six small communities along the river. They have carved up the land and given it to private landowners, and kept for themselves all benefits in the form of taxes, royalties, leases and fees.

They have acted as if they have sole jurisdiction over the land and this is simply legally not the case,” said Chief Tim Paul of Wotstak. “You cannot give away something that is not yours to give. Yet for nearly 300 years, ignoring agreements signed nation to nation in black and white, this is what the governments of that time and the succeeding governments of New Brunswick and Canada have done.” “Meanwhile, many of our people live in poverty,” continued Chief Gabriel Atwin of Pilick. “Canada and New Brunswick and the preceding governments had a fiduciary duty to protect our lands. They did not honour those duties. And our people have suffered because of that breach. Even to this day they refuse to recognize what they have done and we are filing this lawsuit to ask the courts to recognize what the Crown has done.”