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Mi’kmaw lawyer accuses Blaine Higgs of fearmongering and ‘deeply racist attitude’

A Mi’kmaw lawyer says New Brunswick’s attempt to force a court to remove sections of the aboriginal title claim is yet another example of Premier Blaine Higgs’ fear-mongering and “deeply racist attitude toward First Nations.”

Six Wollastocke First Nations have asserted aboriginal title to about half of New Brunswick, and the government is asking the courts to overturn several sections of the claim. Higgs says he’s trying to protect smaller property owners in the property claim area.

But Higgs is misrepresenting Aboriginal title law, Pamela Palmater, a lawyer, professor and member of the Eel River Bar First Nation, said in an interview broadcast Tuesday. Informational morning.

“It’s doing nothing but divisive, and he’s been doing that since he’s been in office,” he said.

“Unprecedented demand”

The title page specifically names the federal government, NB Power and six companies, mostly in the forestry industry, and their 19 subsidiaries.

In a statement last week, Higgs said Wolastokei dismissed the concerns of all small unnamed property owners in the property claim area.

“Today, hundreds of thousands of New Brunswickers in more than half of our province are at risk of having their property affected by this unprecedented claim in which they have been denied any position or representation,” Higgs said.

A woman with brown hair is crouched holding a feather.
Lawyer Pamela Palmater says the New Brunswick premier is divisive after being elected. (Lisa Mackintosh)

But Palmater said the existing title claim, if successful, would have no impact on ordinary New Brunswickers, their families or property.

The title claim is based on the Crown land held by the province and the decisions regarding the use of that land.

He said that could mean Wolastokee First Nations have more say in fees, licenses and rights to develop crown land.

“When you say ‘exclusive use and occupancy,’ that doesn’t mean they’re going to kick New Brunswickers out of their homes and expropriate their land,” Palmater said. “It’s not like that.

“Third party interests, whether it’s an Aboriginal title claim in court or a land claim negotiation process, they’re always protected.”

CBC New asked the Prime Minister’s Office for a response to Palmater’s comments, including the allegation of racism against Higgs.

The office did not respond but sent a statement to Indigenous Affairs Minister Arlene Dunn.

A map of New Brunswick with half of it in orange.
Extent of aboriginal land claim by The Wolastoqey Nation in New Brunswick. (Wolastoqey Nation in New Brunswick)

Dunn’s statement said the concern of property owners prompted the motion to change the title requirement, which the government believes is inconsistent with public comments made by Wolastoqey leaders.

“The Wollastockes have made different statements publicly, but the legal language in their Notice of Action is clear that the unnamed parties’ land is included in the claim.”

Palmater said it’s unfortunate the situation even had to go to court, and he believes both sides would be better served at the negotiating table.

But he blames the prime minister for the lack of negotiations.

“If he wanted to protect New Brunswickers, he would say: we are here to protect New Brunswickers,” Palmater said.

“It didn’t happen … It was a very racist separation between First Nations and what he considers New Brunswick people.”

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