Photos of the protest from the Fredericton chapter.
The Council of Canadians Fredericton chapter joined with the Peace & Friendship Alliance last night to protest outside the combined annual general meetings of several governing provincial Liberal party riding associations.
The rally was to demand that the New Brunswick 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.
Ron Tremblay, spokesperson for the Wolastoq Grand Council, explains, “The lands tied to those contracts are the stolen ancestral territory of our people. …[Premier Brian] Gallant should have announced he was going to suspend the contracts until Indigenous People were properly consulted.”
The traditional homeland of the Maliseet (Wolastoqiyik) people lies within the valley of the St. John River and its tributaries. Their territory covers most of west central New Brunswick, as well parts of Maine and Quebec. The Wolastoq Grand Council is the traditional decision-making structure for the Indigenous peoples of the St. John River valley.
Fredericton chapter activist Maggie Connell highlights, “This forestry deal was done in secret without Wolastoq Peoples knowledge or ours. We want to prevent irreparable harm to Acadian forests which will not regenerate for hundreds of years. And after such severe weather this winter, our elected leaders can no longer hide from climate change. They have a duty of care to prevent widespread loss of forest cover. Many of these areas now allowed in the forestry contract are on steep slopes and wet areas that once cut, will not retain as much water after heavy rain events, thus increasing the risk of flooding in downstream communities.”
The chapter tells us on their Facebook page that the province’s natural resources minister was met by members of the Peace & Friendship Alliance at the demonstration. They add that, “Fifty people came together from throughout the province and territories to send Brian Gallant a clear message to stop the forestry industry deals and the destruction of our Crown Forests, the lands of our ancestors and our heritage. The rally was televised live on a segment with CBC-RC Le Telejournal Acadie. The coverage begins at about 10:50 here.”