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Council of Canadians in solidarity with Maliseet grandmothers opposed to Sisson Brook mine

Maliseet grandmothers have set up a camp at the site of the proposed Sisson Brook mine, an hour north of Fredericton.

The Council of Canadians is opposed to the proposed Sisson Brook mine in New Brunswick that was approved by the Trudeau government in late-June.

Sisson Brook is a proposed open-pit tungsten and molybdenum mine that would be built at the headwaters of the Nashwaak River on Maliseet territory about 100 kilometres north of Fredericton. The mine would also include an unlined tailings pond and an ore processing plant. Molybdenum is used for warplanes and industrial motors.

This past February, CBC reported, “The Todd Corporation, a 130-year-old company based in Wellington, New Zealand — with remarkable similarities to New Brunswick’s own Irving family enterprises — has emerged as the chief backer of Northcliff Resources Ltd. and the beleaguered Sisson Brook mine it has been attempting to create.”

St. Mary’s First Nation Chief Candice Paul has stated, “We assert Aboriginal title to the area where the mine is being proposed …The mine would destroy this part of our territory, it would never be the same again.”

And CBC has reported, “A Maliseet First Nations chief says the New Brunswick government threatened to cancel lucrative tax deals with her band and other Indigenous communities if they didn’t sign an agreement on the Sisson mine. Chief Patricia Bernard of the Madawaska Maliseet First Nation says she doesn’t support the proposed mine, but her band couldn’t risk losing the money it gets from provincial gas, tobacco and sales taxes collected at its Grey Rock commercial development [in Edmundston].”

That article adds, “Premier Brian Gallant [has] announced that the six Maliseet chiefs in the province had signed an ‘accommodation agreement’ on the proposed $579 million open-pit tungsten mine. That’s despite public opposition to the project by five of those chiefs as recently as last April, when they said the project would ‘destroy one of our last remaining areas to harvest and practise our culture’.”

Chief Bernard says, “We do not approve and at no point do we approve of that mine. But if they’re going to go ahead with the mine, we needed to take some sort of accommodation for that loss. The chiefs did not approve of this mine. This accommodation agreement is compensation for something the province is going to do.”

Fredericton chapter activist Mark D’Arcy has blogged about a Longhouse that was built near the New Brunswick Legislature to coincide with ‘Canada Day’ as “a powerful testament to the traditions of the Wolastoqiyik”.

D’Arcy highlighted, “After July 3rd, the Longhouse will be disassembled and transported to Sisson Brook in support of the grandmothers taking part in ceremony to protect the land and water from the proposed tungsten- molybdenum open-pit mine. The Wolastoq Grand Council and their non-Indigenous allies (including the chapters of Council of Canadians here in New Brunswick) understand that the risk of a tailings pond spill into the headwaters of the Nashwaak River is simply too great, as demonstrated by the catastrophic Mount Polley spill in British Columbia back in 2014.”

On July 6, APTN National News reported, “Maliseet grandmothers have set up camp on the site of a proposed open pit mine.”

Construction on the mine is expected to start in the spring of 2018.