Posted on October 18, 2021

N.B. Government Tells Staff to Stop Making Indigenous Land Acknowledgments

Kevin Bisset, Canadian Press, October 15, 2021

New Brunswick government employees have been ordered to stop making territorial or title acknowledgments in reference to Indigenous lands, because the province is involved in a series of legal actions and land claims initiated by First Nations.

The order was included in a memo issued Thursday to all government employees by Justice Minister Hugh Flemming.

“As you may be aware, the Government of New Brunswick (GNB) is currently involved in a number of legal actions which have been initiated by certain First Nations against the province, including a claim to ownership and title to over 60% of the Province,” Justice Minister Hugh Flemming said in a memo leaked to CBC News .

“As a result of this litigation,” the memo said, “legal counsel for GNB (Government of New Brunswick) and the Office of the Attorney General has advised that GNB employees may not make or issue territorial or title acknowledgments.”

It is common across Canada for politicians and others to begin events by stating that they are standing on unceded territories of Indigenous Peoples.

The memo said the order covered land or territorial acknowledgments during meetings and events, in documents and in email signatures. Employees can make reference to ancestral territory but not use the terms “unceded” or “unsurrendered,” the memo said.

The six chiefs of the Wolastoqey Nation in the province issued a statement Friday morning to say they are deeply disappointed by the new policy. They said their title claim, filed last year, was made because their rights continue to be ignored by the government.

“Now in response to this, the province seeks to further trample our rights and erase us from the history of this province,” the chiefs wrote.

“We have unceded Aboriginal title in the province of New Brunswick,” they added. {snip}

The chiefs said the government of Premier Blaine Higgs has shown growing disrespect for First Nations people.