NB government employees ordered not to recognize First Nations credentials at events

Provincial employees in New Brunswick are no longer allowed to make land or title recognitions in reference to First Nations lands, Attorney General Ted Flemming said Thursday in a memo prompted by lawsuits against the government over rights. indigenous peoples and land titles.

Instead, the memo says that employees should only use “ancestral recognition” approved by the provincial government’s office of protocol.

In recent years, title recognitions have become standard practice at universities, municipalities and government officials across Canada at the start of public events and ceremonies.

In New Brunswick, they generally recognize Wolastoqiyik, Mi’kmaq or Peskotomuhkati, depending on where the reconnaissance is made, and they indicate that an event is taking place on unceded territory.

“As you may be aware, the Government of New Brunswick (GNB) is currently involved in a number of legal actions that have been brought by some First Nations against the province, including a claim for property and title to more than 60% of the province. Flemming’s leaked memo said, which was then verified by a provincial spokesperson.

“As a result of this litigation, GNB legal counsel and the Attorney General’s Office have advised that GNB employees cannot make or issue land or title recognitions.

“This includes the use of territorial acknowledgments in meetings and events, in documents, and in email signatures.”

Flemming wrote that it may still be “desirable” at times to do “ancestral recognition”, which is provided at the bottom of the note.

“Please note the absence of terms such as ‘unceded’ or ‘unreturned’,” Flemming wrote.

After Premier Blaine Higgs was re-elected in 2020, a land recognition read by Lieutenant Governor Brenda Murphy during the Speech from the Throne did not include the terms “unceded” and “unceded”.

Murphy’s acknowledgment consisted of one line: “We meet today in the ancestral territory of our Indigenous people.

A land recognition read by Lieutenant Governor Brenda Murphy in the post-election 2020 Speech from the Throne did not include the terms “unceded” and “unceded”. (Submitted by the Province of New Brunswick)

The terms were also missing in Higgs’ speech on the opening day of the 40th Annual General Assembly of the Assembly of First Nations in Fredericton in 2019.

In this speech, he reaffirmed his government’s commitment to strengthen relations with the Indigenous peoples of New Brunswick. He also said the duty to consult, a legal obligation confirmed by several Supreme Court of Canada decisions, needs to be clarified.

“We also need a clear understanding of what the consultation means to make sure we have done it effectively,” he said in 2019.

“It’s so disrespectful”

Oromocto First Nation Chief Shelley Sabattis said land title recognition is an important part of recognizing that New Brunswick is on land that was never ceded to Europeans when they arrived and settled down. She thinks Flemming’s memo is a slap in the face for the First Nations people.

“We have been here from time immemorial,” Sabattis said. “We’ve always been there, and being put aside and being taken in to follow a more dominant society or a more dominant culture, that just seems… ridiculous. It’s like, it’s so disrespectful.”

Oromocto First Nation Chief Shelley Sabattis said she thought the order not to recognize the land was disrespectful. (Logan Perley / CBC)

Last year, Oromocto, along with five other Wolastoqey First Nations, filed a lawsuit with the province to assert title to their traditional lands along the Saint John River, also known as Wolastoq.

The claim covers about half of the province and is ostensibly the property and title claim that Flemming was referring to.

The Wolastoqey Nation of New Brunswick, a group representing six Wolastoqey chiefs, sent a statement denouncing the memo.

“We have been forced to file a title claim because our rights continue to be ignored by the GNB. Now, in response to this, the province seeks to further violate our rights and erase us from the history of this province. “the chiefs said in the statement.

The Chiefs said their unceded Aboriginal title to the province of New Brunswick is “a historic fact that the provincial government is just going to have to come to terms with.”

“The Wolastoqey Nation is not seeking to reclaim all of the land in its traditional territory through title claim,” they said. “We made it very clear during the Crown’s notice of our claim in October 2020 that we were not seeking to move homeowners to New Brunswick. “

Sabattis said he has already heard from provincial workers in his community who are considering what they should do in response.

“My suggestion is just to keep doing it, to continue to recognize the appropriate recognition. It is not surrendered, first of all, and it is not surrendered. This is what is unique in New Brunswick, or even in the Maritimes.

Chiefs point to Higgs background

The six leaders said Higgs’ track record shows “his one-sided decision-making without any Indigenous input.”

“His contempt for our people is confirmed in the government’s refusal to conduct a public inquiry into systemic racism, its shredding of our tax agreements, its aversion to the implementation of one of the 94 calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, ”they declared.

Province did not make National Truth and Reconciliation Day a provincial holiday. Higgs too withdrew from a 10-year tax sharing agreement and called it “unfair”.

After two First Nations people were killed at the hands of police in less than two weeks last year, the province did not respond to calls an inquiry into the judicial treatment of indigenous peoples. Instead, he appointed an independent commissioner to fight systemic racism against all groups.

Legal expert questions the authority of the order

A law professor says the order spelled out in the memo appears to be legally unnecessary and could potentially hamper the possibility of meaningful reconciliation with New Brunswick First Nations.

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, a law professor at the University of British Columbia, said she believed the directive Flemming issued was legally unnecessary. (Submitted by Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond)

“First of all, this is not an appropriate approach,” said Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, professor of law at the University of British Columbia and director of the Center for History and Dialogue of Indian Residential Schools. university.

“There are Aboriginal rights in New Brunswick. The aboriginal peoples of New Brunswick have the right to assert their rights in court, and they probably do so because there is no other process.

“What an official says or does not say in a greeting at a meeting will not be evidence that will influence and determine that.”

Turpel-Lafond said the memo also seemed onerous and asked if Flemming really has the power to dictate what all provincial employees can and cannot say.

“For example, the aboriginal employees of the government of New Brunswick – are they supposed to stand on their own land and deliver that kind of stupid message to their own people?

“I mean, it sounds like something to me that might touch on racial discrimination and be, you know, pretty harmful and not particularly culturally safe for aboriginal employees of the government of New Brunswick. “

About Leah Albert

Check Also

KUWTT: US plans to strengthen defense ties with PH | 22 November 2021

Good day. Here are the articles from the Manila Times of Monday, November 22, 2021. …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *