Premier missed an opportunity for reconciliation at meeting with Chiefs

Despite a united call by 15 chiefs from the Wolastoqey, Mi’kmaq, and Pestomuhkati First Nations in New Brunswick for a public inquiry into systemic discrimination against Indigenous people within the justice system at yesterday’s meeting in Fredericton, Premier Blaine Higgs refused to commit.

“The Premier has missed a tremendous opportunity to start down the road to reconciliation and begin to build a respectful relationship with First Nations by establishing a Commission of Inquiry into systemic racism against Indigenous people,” said Green Party leader David Coon.  “I can’t believe the Premier brushed off the Chiefs’ detailed proposal in the wake of the police killings of Chanel Moore and Rodney Levi, and at a time when New Brunswickers overwhelmingly want him to help make things right between our peoples.”

The Green Party leader spoke to a number of the Chiefs after the meeting who had been looking for a glimmer of hope that justice might be done, and like so many before him, Higgs snuffed it out.

“I am calling on the Premier to break the centuries-old pattern of paternalism and establish the public inquiry the Chiefs are requesting.  They want an interim report within 60 days of the establishment of an inquiry to recommend measures aimed at addressing systemic discrimination against Indigenous people in New Brunswick that can be implemented immediately.  I am prepared to help him to make this inquiry happen,” said Coon.