New Brunswick is embroiled in another battle with the local First Nations, on whose territory New Brunswick was formed – and this is not surprising.
The province’s legislative practice of stealing native land predates Confederation. Its colonial identity is built largely on the same principles of exclusion, exploitation, domination and ouster practiced by the New Brunswick government.
In some ways, this makes the acceptance of the land even more important, as they speak to the core of provincial-indigenous relations: the land.
In the Maritime Provinces and Gaspe, the lands are governed (in the most liberal definition of that term) by a series of 18th-century peace and friendship treaties signed between the British Crown and the Wabanaki Union of Nations. These treaties did not give territory or title to the Crown.
This is a fact stated by the Government of Canada and the New Brunswick Court of Appeal – a necessary and important truth that precedes any reconciliation. A government that refuses to obey it should not have the legitimacy to rule.
land acknowledgment and what’s happening in nb
In their most elaborate interpretation, land acceptances are small reminders to settlers that treaties are living documents and that as treaty people and partners we have responsibilities to bring those documents to life and renew those commitments.
Land acceptances may be action-oriented calls to service, but the reality is that they are often little more than symbolic gestures.
Surprisingly (and seemingly out of nowhere), on October 14, New Brunswick Attorney General Ted Fleming declared the use of land sanctions recognizing the unbroken and unrestricted areas of Wollastokiak and Migmack by government employees in full public service. Banned.
The government argues that it has “no choice” but to defend itself after the Wlstki Nation filed its own legal claim on indigenous title over 60 percent of the provincial territorial landmass. Logically, this defense included a ban on symbolic gestures.
By “example”, Fleming said he has not approved such land since October 2020. Tribal Affairs Minister Arlene Dunn has remained silent on the matter, avoiding requests from the media and deferring to Fleming on the question.
NB. Crown-Indigenous Relations in
It has been a challenging 18 months or so for provincial-indigenous relations in New Brunswick. Since taking office in September 2020, Dunn has managed to consider himself unwelcome in indigenous communities throughout the province. He has called for understanding, saying that “they will see that my actions speak louder than words.”
His actions include publicly weak calls for the government to conduct a public inquiry into systemic racism against indigenous peoples, which prompted chiefs to demand his resignation. He then proposed the All Nations/All Party Working Group on Truth and Reconciliation, which collapsed after the indigenous leadership withdrew support for him and his proposed work.
Recently, Dunn appeared before the Canadian Senate to explain her government’s rejection of the United Nations Declaration on Free, Prior and Informed Consent on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Unsurprisingly, the provincial-indigenous relationship is barely alive in New Brunswick. In June, when Madawaska chief Patricia Barnard removed the Canadian and New Brunswick flags from her community, it got stronger:
“At present we have virtually no relationship with the federal government, except as a constitutional responsibility, and no relationship with the provincial government.”
Nation-to-Nation Relations NB . I must be dead
The land acceptance ban is a death blow to the nation-to-nation concept in New Brunswick.
It represents an insidious reality: that the Attorney General, the Premier and the Minister of Tribal Affairs have convinced a reluctant cabinet to reject the basic fundamental principle of peace and friendship treaties – that these lands are unrestricted and unrestricted.
Rejecting this theory, New Brunswick also rejected the sovereignty of Wolstokiaic and Migmac, thus maintaining a decades-old acceptance of the doctrine of discovery as a form of government policy.
The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples affirms that accepting indigenous sovereignty is a precondition for reconciliation – I have written about this as well.
If the senior minister of the Crown in New Brunswick responsible for Indigenous relations cannot or cannot accept Indigenous sovereignty, then surely the nation-by-nation must be dead.
monolithic and unrestricted
The fact that the land’s acceptance bothers the New Brunswick government to the point that the Ministry of Justice is cracking down on their use doesn’t say much about the province’s legal case against the Wolastokee Nation. Clearly, New Brunswick is reluctant to relinquish its claim to full and exclusive sovereignty over the region.
Yet they have exactly that: a claim. That the strength of the claim rests on civil servants, who avoid the use of the words “unconcerned” and “unrestricted”, shows that the province also recognizes its ludicrousness.
The lawsuit is a very tangible result of 200 years of land theft sanctioned by the New Brunswick legislature. We don’t need an acknowledgment of the land to confirm it, when we have laws that make it clear.
accept the land, don’t accept the land
The spectacle reveals a sad state of affairs in New Brunswick: this government does not know what it is reconciling and, instead of having the humility to learn, has chosen to kill nation-by-nation.
The series of half-measured, watered-down legislative motions and childishness of the past 18 months emphasize that when it comes to realizing reconciliation we are being led by inept, unqualified people.
The Department of Tribal Affairs, which not only follows the party line on Terra Nullius but is set it, is led by a minister who claims to his colleagues that he is working on a plan to improve relations with the First Nation. has been It is a plan she conceived to improve a relationship without the knowledge of the First Nations, which she has demonstrated on every occasion that she does not understand.
Accept the land, don’t accept the land. But a new approach to the relationship, rooted in justice, equality and harmony, based on a shared acceptance of the principles of peace and friendship treaties, and perhaps also led by new faces, is needed.