Wolastoqey Nation files claim against New Brunswick corporations for resource extraction on their land

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.

At a virtual news conference Tuesday, 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 new claim was filed by all six Wolastoqey communities – Matawaskiye (Madawaska Maliseet First Nation); Neqotkuk (Tobique First Nation); Wotstak (Woodstock First Nation); Pilick (Kingsclear First Nation); Sitansisk (Saint Mary’s First Nation) and Welamukotuk (Oromocto First Nation).

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.

A year ago, six Wolastoqey chiefs filed a suit claiming Aboriginal title to almost half of New Brunswick.

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.

Read the statement of claim here: 

Download (PDF, 2.93MB)

The nation says the land claimed in the original suit covers “five million hectares which have been governed, protected, managed, used and occupied by the Wolastoqey from time immemorial.

“These companies haven’t shown a willingness to negotiate in good faith or show the respect that we need for our treaty rights,” says Ross Perley, chief of Neqotkuk.

Wolastoqey lands are unceded and unsurrendered.

Bernard says the Peace and Friendship Treaties have been ignored for 200 years.

“Today’s statement of claim should be seen as an opportunity to correct those wrongs,” she says. “And help our ecosystem heal, let us the guardians of this land for time in immoral ensure our traditional lands thrive for Indigenous and settler residents alike for centuries to come.”

J.D. Irving’s vice president of communications, Anne McInerney said in an email to APTN News, “Given this is before the courts, we’ll refrain from committing.”

Bernard says it may take decades until the claim is settled.

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