04 OCTOBER 2013
Dear Premier Alward:
In the wake of the resolution of Elsipogtog's Chief and Council to reclaim their stewardship over all unoccupied Crown land in the Signigtog district of the traditional territories of the Mi'kmaq, I am writing to urge you to meet with Chief Arren Sock and his Council at the earliest possible time.
The provincial government has maintained its relationship with First Nations is one of government to government. As you know, First Nations in New Brunswick have always maintained that Crown lands are lands that are held in trust by the Crown on their behalf since they were never ceded by treaty. However, at the same time, the Government of New Brunswick treats these lands as its own.
Five days from now, Canada will commemorate the 250th anniversary of the Royal Proclamation of 1763, the foundational document for the relationship between First Nations and the Crown. The Royal Proclamation was enshrined in the BNA Act of 1867 and is entrenched in Section 25 of the Constitution Act of 1982. As the Royal Proclamation of 1763 proclaims that lands not ceded to, or purchased by the Crown are reserved for First Nations, the commemoration on October 7th will take on a heightened sense of importance in New Brunswick, in the face of the decision by the elected and hereditary leaders of Elispogtog and the Signigtog district to re-assert their stewardship over unoccupied lands in the district.
I firmly believe your response to their decision will determine what happens next. In my opinion, at this moment, it is paramount that you meet with Chief Arren Sock, his council and the hereditary leaders from the community on a government-to-government basis in the spirit of the Peace and Friendship treaties. You have the opportunity, indeed the responsibility, to rise to the occasion to take the first steps in transforming the relationship between the Government of New Brunswick and First Nations to one that is genuinely respectful and just.
This is an historic moment in the relationship between New Brunswick and First Nations. How you respond to Chief Sock and the hereditary chiefs will determine whether that relationship becomes mutually beneficial to all our people and the commonwealth of life in our province, or deteriorates into conflict and legal action.
I hope and pray that you will approach this with an open heart, in the spirit of peace and friendship between our peoples.
Leader, Green Party of New Brunswick