New Brunswick Tribune

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

The Premier of N.B. believes the First Nations title claim is serious and far-reaching

Key takeaways:

  • On Wednesday, Blaine Higgs stated that a title claim filed by six Wolastoqey chiefs for 60 percent of New Brunswick’s land is “very serious.”
  • According to Natural Resources Minister Mike Holland, the lawsuit may have a significant influence on the province’s timber business.

Premier Blaine Higgs said on Wednesday that a title claim filed by six Wolastoqey chiefs for 60% of New Brunswick’s land is very serious and has far-reaching repercussions.

The chiefs targeted firms such as N.B. In a new land claim filed on Tuesday, power and forestry behemoth J.D. Irving, who exploit resources on their traditional territories. The chiefs want the land returned and compensation for the land’s use over the previous 200 years, and title to the entire territory.

“In almost every case, the land mentioned in this claim is not held by politicians or even the government,” Higgs told reporters in Fredericton. “It is New Brunswickers’ land, which they paid for and continue to pay for through their annual taxes.”

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According to Higgs, the claim may have a significant impact on the timber industry and the provincial economy.

J.D. Irving Ltd. and 18 of its subsidiaries or associated businesses, N.B. Power, Acadian Timber, Twin Rivers Paper, H.J. Crabbe & Sons, and A.V. Group are the defendants named in the lawsuit. In addition to the governments of New Brunswick and Canada, the companies are named.

“This is the first time a claim of this sort has attempted to seize control of privately held land,” Higgs added. “It is devoid of the clarity that New Brunswickers are entitled to.”

According to Higgs, the worth of all the land described in the document would be in the trillions of dollars if the province had to value it. While several chiefs have stated that they will not evict New Brunswickers from their homes and farms, he claims this is not explicitly stated in the court decree.

New Brunswick premier says First Nations title claim is serious and far- reaching

“This allegation causes a great deal of doubt,” Higgs remarked. “It necessitates our government’s undivided attention.”

According to Natural Resources Minister Mike Holland, the lawsuit may have a significant influence on the province’s timber business. He told reporters, “Forestry is the backbone of this province’s economy in many ways, especially in rural New Brunswick.”

“This sector’s strength keeps food on the table for one out of every 14 New Brunswickers,” he continued. “Forestry employs more than 22,000 New Brunswickers directly or indirectly.”

Chief Patricia Bernard of the Madawaska Maliseet First Nation said the chiefs had no intention of bankrupting the government or leaving anyone homeless. “We’d like to collaborate with the province. We’d like to collaborate with these businesses, “During a virtual press conference late Wednesday, she told reporters.

“We were backed up against a wall. We didn’t have a choice, “she stated. “I don’t think we’d be here right now if it weren’t for this government. On a partnership basis, I believe we’d be sitting down negotiating, dealing with our difficulties, dealing with jurisdiction, and dealing with income.”

Higgs stated that he has requested a meeting with the Wolastoqey chiefs and hopes to meet before the year ends.

The Canadian Press initially published this information on December 1, 2021.

Source: CTV News

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