Lifting Of Fracking Moratorium Does Not Have The Consent Of Mi’gmaq Chiefs

MIRAMICHI - The Chiefs of Mi’gmawe’l Tplu’taqnn Inc. (MTI) were blindsided by the decision of the Higgs government to lift the moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in the Sussex area without consent, consultation, or input from First Nations in New Brunswick.

In 2016, the New Brunswick Commission on Hydraulic Fracturing released its Final Report. The Commission urged the Province of New Brunswick, to rebuild its relationship with Indigenous Peoples, and to adopt a nation-to-nation consultation process with First Nations, which would include a cumulative impact assessment, and Indigenous-led research and monitoring. Theymade this a condition that must be met before any moratorium could be lifted. It seems the Higgs government has unilaterally decided to ignore the advice of these experts, as well as others in law and science, and allow this industry to proceed without any regard for what the Commission proposed.

“Fracking remains an issue of serious concern to our Mi’gmaq communities. This Premier must remember that First Nations have never ceded our lands and waters in this province. The Mi’gmaq, and the Fort Folly First Nation continue to fish, hunt, and gather on the lands and waters of the Kennebecasis River, and the Sussex and Penobsquis area. For us, water is sacred, and anything that pollutes our lands and waters is like a knife to the heart of Mother Earth,” said Chief Rebecca Knockwood of Fort Folly First Nation and Co-Chair of MTI.

“The Premier must remember the Crown has a duty to consult, and to seek our consent to development in our territory. The Mi’gmaq should’ve been engaged on this issue when the Government was just considering lifting the moratorium in the Sussex area,” said Chief George Ginnish of Natoaganeg First Nation and Co-Chair of MTI.

The Chiefs urge the Premier to read the full report of the Commission on Hydraulic Fracturing and then sit down and listen to First Nations to begin the work of repairing the broken relationship. Maybe then we can talk about how we move forward together.

Mi’gmawe’l Tplu’taqnn Incorporated (MTI) is a not for profit organization whose members are the nine Mi’gmaq communities in New Brunswick. Its objectives include promoting and supporting the recognition, affirmation, exercise, and implementation of the Aboriginal and Treaty Rights; the right of self-determination; political, cultural, economic, educational and social development; justice and equity; wider respect and understanding; and general awareness of its member communities and their Mi’gmag laws, rights, values, traditions, customs and practices. It represents eight of its member communities in negotiations under the Mi’gmaq/Canada/New Brunswick Framework Agreement.

For inquires contact:

Jennifer Coleman, Director of Policy and Operations

Mi’gmawe’l Tplu’taqnn

(506) 455 1881

jennifer@migmawel.org

MTI congratulates Elsipogtog

PRESS RELEASE

The Chiefs of Mi’gmawe’l Tplu’taqnn Inc. (MTI) congratulate Chief Aaron Sock and the community of Elsipogtog on signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and beginning the process of obtaining a mandate to negotiate matters within federal jurisdiction.

“The MOU signed today has the goal to move forward to find shared and balanced solutions for Elsipogtog and the Government of Canada. We recognize this is an important step for Chief Sock and his community,” said Chief Rebecca Knockwood, Co-Chair of MTI.

MTI, on behalf of its eight other members, has been and will continue their existing negotiations with the Government of Canada and the Government of New Brunswick under a signed Framework Agreement. These discussions include self-determination, recognition of Mi’gmaq title, and implementation of Mi’gmaq Aboriginal and Treaty Rights throughout New Brunswick.

“MTI is making good progress in negotiations towards Rights Implementation Agreements. These Agreements will be brought back to our communities for deliberation and ratification,” said Chief George Ginnish, Co-Chair of MTI.

MTI will also continue to collaborate with the Mi’gmaq negotiation tables in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Quebec.

Mi’gmawe’l Tplu’taqnn Incorporated (MTI) is a not for profit organization whose members are the nine Mi’gmaq communities in New Brunswick. Its objectives include promoting and supporting the recognition, affirmation, exercise, and implementation of the Aboriginal and Treaty rights; the right of self-determination; political, cultural, economic, educational and social development; justice and equity; wider respect and understanding; and general awareness of its member communities and their Mi’gmag laws, rights, values, traditions, customs and practices. It represents eight of its member communities in negotiations under the Mi’gmaq/Canada/New Brunswick Framework Agreement.

For inquires contact:

Jennifer Coleman, Director of Policy and Operations

Mi’gmawe’l Tplu’taqnn

(506) 455 1881

jennifer@migmawel.org

Mi’gmaq communities clarify plans for former CBC property

PRESS RELEASE

FORT FOLLY, NB - Approximately two years ago, six Mi’gmaq communities in New Brunswick – Fort Folly, Eel Ground, Eel River Bar, Metepenagiag, Indian Island and Buctouche – came together to purchase the former CBC properties in Aulac, New Brunswick. Chief Rebecca Knockwood of Fort Folly First Nation has taken the lead on this venture on behalf of the group.

The communities have decided that before any development takes place, the property needs to be designated as reserve land. There are a number of steps that need to be undertaken before the reserve designation is received. An initial step in the process includes writing to municipalities and other third parties to inform them of the intention to designate the land as reserve land, explain the process going forward, and see if those parties have any concerns. The entire process could take up to another two years but the chiefs are considering options for the land.

“This area, Signigtig, holds cultural and historical significance to the Mi’gmaq. Considering the location of the lands, we recognize there is potential to see some development of those lands. However, no decisions have been made as to what that development will look like. More environmental assessments will need to be undertaken to ensure the land and surrounding environment is protected,” said Chief Rebecca Knockwood.

The Chiefs are open to speaking with groups who are interested in discussing proposed ideas for theproperty. Any proposals should be directed to Tracy Cloud at tracyanne@migmawel.org.

For inquires contact:

Jennifer Coleman, Director of Policy and Operations

Mi’gmawe’l Tplu’taqnn

(506) 455 1881

jennifer@migmawel.org

MTI and Parks Canada work together to provide a workshop and tradeshow

PRESS RELEASE

L’no Minigog First Nation - Mi’gmawe’l Tplu’taqnn Inc (MTI) and Parks Canada Agency are proud to have worked together to develop and host a “Doing Business with the Government of Canada Workshop and Tradeshow” at L’no Minigog First Nation on Friday, October 5. This free, full-day event brought together members of the New Brunswick Mi’gmaq business community with federal government buyers of goods and services as well as with organizations that support small business and Indigenous economic development in the province. The event was made possible thanks to the support of partners at Public Services and Procurement Canada-Office of Small and Medium Enterprises; Crown-Indigenous Relations & Northern Affairs Canada; Indigenous Services Canada; the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, and with funding from the Joint Economic Development Initiative (JEDI).

Through presentations, a seminar and a tradeshow, participants were able to learn more about how their businesses can supply goods and services to the federal government, how to access information on valuable programs and supports for Mi’gmaq businesses and meet face to face with decision makers, experts and resource people to get informed, network, and explore opportunities for community economic development.

“This event was a chance to learn more about potential opportunities for our businesses and people. We look forward to participating in more workshops like this with government departments at the federal and provincial level and seeing the impact this experience will have in the development of our communities and their members,” said Chief Ken Barlow of L’no Minigog First Nation.

“As Canada’s largest provider of natural and cultural tourism, Parks Canada’s destinations form important cornerstones for Canada’s local, regional, and national tourism industry. We are very pleased to co-host this event and create an opportunity for dialogue and collaboration between the Government of Canada and the Mi'gmaq of New Brunswick. This forum allows us to share information regarding procurement, contracting, employment as well as other economic development and business opportunities with Indigenous peoples in New Brunswick,” added Géraldine Arsenault, Parks Canada’s Field Unit Superintendent for the Northern New Brunswick Field Unit.

This event, which was open to all Mi’gmaq communities in New Brunswick, originated as an idea of the MTI and Parks Canada Advisory Committee created with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in October 2016. The committee includes representatives from MTI and Parks Canada in New Brunswick and focuses on collaborations in areas of mutual interest such as economic development, cultural awareness and education, as well as natural and cultural resource conservation.

For inquires contact:

Jennifer Coleman, Director of Policy and Operations

Mi’gmawe’l Tplu’taqnn

(506) 455 1881

jennifer@migmawel.org

Mi’gmaq Chiefs not adequately consulted on Forest Strategy Review

PRESS RELEASE

The Gallant government today released its review of the 2014 Forest Strategy that was signed by the previous government; a review that was promised in the Liberal’s 2014 election platform. With the amount of time that has passed the Mi’gmaq Chiefs of New Brunswick had hoped more of the concerns they had raised over the past number of years would have been adequately addressed.

The Mi’gmaq were not adequately engaged as a part of the review. The Mi’gmaq are still deeply concerned about the impacts of the Forest Strategy and the Forest Agreements will have on the health of New Brunswick’s forests. “This review did not address our concerns with the original Strategy and Forest Management Agreements. This will still impact our Aboriginal and Treaty Rights to hunt, fish and gather,” said Chief George Ginnish, Co-Chair of Mi’gmawe’l Tplu’taqnn Inc. (MTI).

In addition, the government failed to address the Chiefs concerns with Clause 7.6 in the Forest Management Agreements. This clause gives license holders a veto over forest management practices. This is something that should be worrisome to all New Brunswickers.

The practice of giving too much power, access and, essentially subsidies, to corporate interests has to be reviewed. The Auditor General of NB and trade rulings have confirmed the government continues to subsidize the forest sector by selling timber from Crown Lands at below its value.

The Mi’gmaq Chiefs will continue to speak with their communities and others in the forest sector and look at what further action will need to be taken. Mi’gmawe’l Tplu’taqnn will not be making any further comment at this time.

For inquires contact:

Jennifer Coleman, Director of Policy and Operations

Mi’gmawe’l Tplu’taqnn

(506) 455 1881

jennifer@migmawel.org

Mi’gmaq respond to CAST’s Open Letter to DFO

PRESS RELEASE

NATOAGENEG - The Collaboration for Atlantic Salmon Tomorrow (CAST) issued a media statement dated October 25, 2017 entitled ‘Wild Atlantic Salmon at a Crossroad’. The Mi’gmaq of New Brunswick disagree with much of the content in that media release. “The release contained some erroneous information and failed to mention a number of relevant and important facts,” stated Chief George H. Ginnish of Eel Ground Fist Nation and co-Chair of Mi’gmawe’l Tplu’taqqn, which represents the Mi’gmaq in New Brunswick on many legal and constitutional issues.

Chief Ginnish set out some of the most serious of the errors made by CAST. “The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) is legally required to consult with First Nations when it contemplates making a decision which might affect Aboriginal or Treaty rights”, Chief Ginnish said. He pointed out that the Mi’gmaq hold court recognition and affirmation of both Aboriginal and Treaty rights concerning salmon. He said the Mi’gmaq should have been consulted when CAST’s project was first brought to DFO and well before any small salmon were collected by CAST to raise as adults and to then be released into the Miramichi River. “DFO unlawfully issued permits and failed to consult us on any of this planning,” he said and continued that “we Mi’gmaq have lived along the Miramichi River for many thousands of years and have intimate knowledge of the river, its tributaries and salmon. But none of that was considered by either CAST or DFO in the planning, issuing of permits or implementation. The fact that not a single person engaged a First Nation during the development of this project is unacceptable”.

Chief Ginnish also pointed out that salmon are one of the most important and nutritious sources of food for the Mi’gmaq which could not be replaced. “Many of our people are simply too poor to afford alternatives. CAST is literally experimenting with our people’s food without any consideration as to how we would interact with these experimental fish.

Further, there have been concerns raised by a number of organizations and scientists which doubt the premises CAST has relied upon. Apparently DFO scientists are also raising concerns,” Chief Ginnish said.

The Mi’gmaq have made it consistently clear since we first learned of this experiment what isrequired, and what changes must be made, for our support of and consent to this project. To date, the conditions have not been met and we cannot consent to this experiment taking place on our river."

For inquires contact:

Jennifer Coleman, Director of Policy and Operations

Mi’gmawe’l Tplu’taqnn

(506) 455 1881

jennifer@migmawel.org

Mi’gmaq in New Brunswick set the record straight on Taxation Agreements

PRESS RELEASE

METEPENAGIAG - The Mi’gmaq Chiefs can no longer sit back and listen to the “alternative facts” perpetrated by the Independent Gas Retailers of New Brunswick (IGRONB) regarding Taxation Agreements with First Nations in New Brunswick.

“It is clear the IGRONB do not have an understanding of how government funding is provided to First Nations, and why these tax agreements were implemented in the first place,” stated Chief Bill Ward of Metepenagiag First Nation.

First Nations are chronically underfunded and must find own-source and taxation revenues to provide services to their community members that are comparable to services found offreserve. However, this is extremely difficult especially when First Nation communities in New Brunswick are among the poorest communities in Canada.

“First Nation communities are not recipients of provincial government funding when it comes to building K to 12 schools, building small rural health centres, or building and maintaining roads,” said Chief Bill Ward. “If the independent retailers feel that First Nations should remit 100% of taxes collected on-reserve, then they must also consider that the provincial government would need to fund services for those who live on-reserve. Will they provide the capital project dollars? Will there be provincial dollars for health and education on-reserve?” asked Chief Bill Ward.

To imply that First Nations’ communities are receiving more than what’s fair and not contributing to the Province is misleading. Chief Ward states “A recent study showed that direct spending associated with the Atlantic Indigenous Economy totaled $458 million in New Brunswick alone. Spending by First Nations is a key economic contributor to numerous communities in our territory, including Campbellton, Dalhousie, Bathurst, Miramichi and Rexton, among others. Without the economic contribution from surrounding First Nations and their tax agreements, these communities would be in much worse shape.” The IGRONB has provided no proof for their claim that the closures of independent gas retailers are a result of the tax agreements with First Nations, despite requests from Mi’gmawe’l Tplu’taqnn to provide more details.

The IGRONB fails to consider other factors, including the overall decline of independent retailers across Canada, the relocation of highways, and the economic conditions in certain parts of New Brunswick. The number of retail fuel sites in Canada dropped from over 20,000 in 1989 to 11,916 in 2015. The increase in big box stores and large highway service centres selling gas are more likely the main contributing factor in the closures of independent gas retail stations.

The Government of New Brunswick and First Nations in New Brunswick originally signed these taxation agreements in recognition that First Nations in this province are a government that has the right to share in the revenue that is generated in New Brunswick and in their communities. Contrary to the assertions of the IGRONB, recent court decisions actually support the idea that First Nations and government should reach co-operative arrangements regarding collection of tax revenue on reserve.

There are tax agreements between provincial, federal and First Nations governments across Canada, not to mention revenue sharing for resource projects, something Mi’gmaq First Nations in New Brunswick do not currently enjoy. Chief Ward stated: “We are constantly looking for ways to create opportunities for our communities and neighboring municipalities in this province. We look forward to further discussions with the public and private sectors on how we can continue to contribute to New Brunswick’s overall economic well-being.”

 

For inquires contact:


Jennifer Coleman, Director of Policy and Operations

Mi’gmawe’l Tplu’taqnn

(506) 455 1881

jennifer@migmawel.org

Indian Status Cards: ‘We Do Not Expire' Campaign Says Costly Renewal Process Must Change

An online petition is calling on the federal government to scrap the renewal process for Indian Status cards.

“The renewal process is too lengthy and unnecessary and un-accommodating,” says Edward Martin’s petition on Change.org. After two months, the petition has collected more than 6,200 signatures.

A status card is government ID that gives "registered Indians" access to some benefits, such as tax exemption for certain purchases made on-reserve and for the PST segment of the HST in Ontario.

“Imagine having to renew your SIN number,” Martin said in an email to The Huffington Post Canada. “It’s the same thing.”

Originally from the Listuguj Mi'gmaq First Nation on the Quebec-New Brunswick border, Martin was in the middle of moving to Victoria, B.C. in August when his status expired.

Edward Martin, a Mi'gmaq man in Victoria, says that the renewal process for certificates of Indian Status is 'unnecessary' and 'redundant.'

Two months earlier, he drove more than 350 kilometres from North Bay, Ont. to Gatineau, Que. to renew his status card at the Indigenous and Northern Affairs office. When he got there, Martin said he was told he needed to provide a passport photo, scan of his birth certificate, and a declaration signed by a lawyer to prove his identity.

“I was upset and realized something needs to be done,” he said. “The renewal process is just another attempt to keep us jumping through hoops.”

The requirement to renew status cards “is consistent with other official identification documents, such as passports and drivers licenses," according to the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada website. Renewal can be done in person or by mail, but the applicant must pay for all document printing and mailing costs.

Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada did not respond to HuffPost Canada’s request for comment about Martin’s petition.

“Imagine having to renew your SIN number ... It's the same thing."

“The status card is NOT a passport,” Martin wrote in his petition. A person’s registration number never changes, so to renew it is “redundant,” he told HuffPost.

The federal government started defining who is legally “Indian” with the Indian Act in 1876. At the time, anyone who went to university would lose their status, as would any woman who married a non-status person.

'A form of apartheid law'

“The Assembly of First Nations as well as other leaders and academics have described the Indian Act as a form of apartheid law,” according to the University of British Columbia's Indigenous Foundations website.

The concept is based on the assumption that indigenous people are “‘children’ requiring control and direction to bring them into more ‘civilized’ colonial ways of life," it explains.

In 1969, then prime minister Pierre Trudeau tried to abolish the Indian Act and dismantle the Department of Indian Affairs.

While many indigenous people agreed that the act was problematic, the move wasn’t supported. The policy was “overwhelmingly rejected” by indigenous people who said that assimilating into mainstream society would not create meaningful equality.

 

Credit | Emma Paling | Huffington Post Canada

Mactaquac dam to be kept going until 2068, NB Power says

NB Power wants to maintain the Mactaquac dam for its intended lifespan, until 2068, at an expected cost of $2.9 billion to $3.6 billion.

The utility made the announcement Tuesday at the Mactaquac Generating Station, saying it took into consideration environmental, technical, social and cost factors.

With the generating station approaching a premature end of its life in 2030 because of continuing chemical reaction in its concrete, the Crown corporation has been exploring a variety of options.

Keeping the station going until 2068 will require a modified approach to maintenance of the dam and replacing equipment over time, NB Power said in its announcement.

NB Power said the option it chose for dealing with Mactaquac's problems came with the lowest cost estimate compared with other options under consideration.

In coming months, NB Power will seek environmental approvals from the province and follow application and review processes for financial approvals to be defined by the Energy and Utilities Board.

"We believe we have made a sound decision about Mactaquac that makes good business sense, meets the present and future needs of New Brunswick's changing power grid and reflects the values of New Brunswickers," said Ed Barrett, chair of NB Power's board of directors said a release. "As a public utility, we clearly understand that any course of action regarding Mactaquac has deep and lasting consequences."

Options considered by NB Power also included:

  • Building a new generating station on the opposite side of the St. John River
  • Leaving the dam in place but without power generation
  • Removing the dam and generation station and allow the river to return to its natural state

The option to repower the Mactaquac dam would involve building a new powerhouse and spillways on the Kingsclear side of the St. John River. (NB Power)

George Porter, NB Power's project director on the Mactaquac project, said previously that the maintenance option would have a shorter lifespan and lower cost than building a new generating station and dam that would be expected to operate for 100 years.

NB Power's debt stands at about $5 billion while the province's debt is forecast to hit $14 billion by the end of the 2016-17 fiscal year.

The existing dam has a capacity to generate 660 megawatts of electricity, which is enough to supply about 12 percent of the province's homes and businesses with electricity, says NB Power.

This was a preliminary rendering of the St. John River at Mactaquac if all structures were decommissioned and removed. (NB Power)

The utility has been given direction by the provincial government to have 40 per cent of its in-province electricity sales provided by renewable resources by 2020. It attained 42 percent of energy sales from renewable resources in 2015-16.

In information released throughout the public discussion about the Mactaquac options, NB Power said if the decision is made not to retain power-generating capacity at Mactaquac, it will have to replace the power from Mactaquac with renewable energy.

Other sources of renewable energy include biomass, biogas, solar, hydro, ocean and enhanced geothermal.

The option to maintain the headpond but not generate power would have involved constructing new concrete spillways on the Kingsclear side of the St. John River. (NB Power)

The Mactaquac dam opened in 1968 and was expected to be in operation for 100 years.

However, an alkali-aggregate chemical reaction in the dam's concrete caused the dam to expand over the years, reducing its expected life span to 62 years.

The building of the dam on the St. John River created a 96-kilometre long headpond above the dam, which has led to real estate development along its shores.

The headpond is also a popular fishing and boating venue.

 

Credit | Alan White, CBC News

Mi'gmag Chiefs of New Brunswick Reaffirm their Unity

The nine Mi'gmag Chiefs in New Brunswick gathered this week in Natoageneg (Eel Ground) to reaffirm their unanimous commitment to work together to protect and advance their Aboriginal and Treaty rights, the lands and waters of Mi'gmag Territory, and the well-being of the Mi'gmag People.

Chief George Ginnish of Eel Ground stated that the Chiefs met for a full day and had spoken of the vision of their ancestors and the need to continue to implement that vision, "In their wisdom, our ancestors looked forward and saw that our rights could be protected then, now, and far into the future, by entering into Treaties first with other Indigenous Peoples and later the French and British. They did that by working together in unity, as one People."

Chief Arren Sock of Elsipogtog said that the Chiefs had examined their collective past with great pride, "For thousands of years this place has nurtured us and provided for us. Our ancestors developed a complex society with laws, strong economies and healthy families. These realities of the Mi’gmag People were based on consensus and determination to work together. We must continue that cooperation and noble vision."

Elder Gordon LaBillois of Eel River Bar said, "I was proud and honoured to sit with the Chiefs in that circle and see their strong commitment to our People. I look forward to great success as we take our rightful place in Canada and New Brunswick.

The nine Mi'gmag Chiefs said that they were asking Premier Gallant to take up their offer to honour the Treaties, to uphold the constitution and law, and to work meaningfully for lasting benefit for all of New Brunswick. "By working together as Mi'gmag and reaching out to government and New Brunswickers we can change the status quo and make this a better, stronger and more diverse place."