New Brunswick-based Council of Canadians chapters were at the Peace and Friendship Alliance meeting in Rogersville, New Brunswick yesterday.
Fredericton chapter activist Caroline Lubbe-D'Arcy tweeted:
- At Peace & Friendship Alliance meeting in Rogersville. #Forestry: learning about plight of woodlot owners, wood marketing boards
- Minister @Rick_Doucet (Energy and Resources) allegedly didn't know # of wood marketing boards in #NB + #nbpoli ignores wood marketing boards
- Elsipogtog Aboriginal Title Claim discussed now.
The Peace and Friendship Alliance is an alliance of Indigenous, Acadian, and Anglophone New Brunswickers that meets on a monthly basis.
Forests and woodlots
The New Brunswick Forest Products Commission oversees seven marketing boards in the province. The mandate of the marketing boards is to sell wood from private woodlots to forestry companies. The York Sunbury Charlotte Forest Products Marketing Board alone represents about 7,100 private woodlot owners.
In May 2014, the Fredericton, Moncton and Saint John chapters were at a rally at the New Brunswick Legislature that demanded a forest strategy that respects ecological limits and builds resilient communities and creates meaningful employment, that woodlot owners and workers be given a viable shot at making a living, and that Aboriginal treaties and rights be respected. In March 2106, the Fredericton chapter joined with the Peace and Friendship Alliance to demand that the government suspend forestry contracts that were signed without meaningful consultation. The province's Department of Natural Resources has signed agreements with forestry companies that guarantee an increased annual allowable cut for the next 25 years.
In May 2016, CBC reported, "The Eel Ground, Fort Folly, Buctouche, Eel River Bar, Indian Island, Metepenagiag, and Pabineau First Nations have filed a lawsuit against the New Brunswick government over its forest policy and management agreements with industrial forestry companies. The chiefs contend the province's forest strategy, management agreements, management plans and the Crown Lands and Forests Act itself amount to an unjustified infringement of their Aboriginal and treaty rights. The chiefs opposed the forest strategy brought in by the Alward government in 2014 which allowed for a 20 per cent increase in the annual allowable cut of softwood on Crown land."
Green Party leader David Coon has stated that if large companies lost their increased quotas and needed more wood "they could buy it from private woodlot owners".
The National Observer has reported, "In the forestry sector, the provincial government charges so little in stumpage fees to forest companies who lease Crown land for logging it’s losing money on its holdings (JD Irving controls 32 percent of leasable Crown land in New Brunswick – just over one million hectares). A 2010 CIBC World Markets report said that for that fiscal year, the provincial government lost $32-million in revenues after paying out for forest, wildlife and regional management. In 2015, the provincial auditor calculated that while gross timber royalties for 2012-13 totaled approximately $65 million, the budget for the Department of Natural Resources was $75-million."
Elsipogtog Aboriginal Title
In November 2016, chapters in New Brunswick expressed solidarity with the Elsipogtog First Nation when it asked the Court to confirm that the Mi'kmaq Nation continues to hold Aboriginal title and rights in Sikniktuk, which encompasses the entirety of southeastern New Brunswick. The Elsipogtog First Nation is located within the district of Sikniktuk of Mi'kmaq Territory - referred to as Mi'kma'ki. Elsipogtog wants the Court to confirm that their nation has the authority to order injunctions to prevent the further destruction of the land, water, air and forest in their traditional territory.
Kent County chapter activist Ann Pohl has stated, "Elsipogtog is not asking for title to be granted, it is asserting that as Mi'kmaq People in Mi'kma'ki, they have title, which they do. So it will be up to the province and feds to prove them wrong in that assertion. Indigenous Title cannot be granted by the Crown, as it was never surrendered."
For numerous blogs on the work of the Peace and Friendship Alliance, please click here.