A lawsuit filed by the Mig’mawei Mawiomi Secretariat (MMS) is simple – the crown did not consult First Nation’s people before developing on their land.
Executive Director of the MMS, Troy Jerome, refers often to several legal precedents when explaining the grounds for the lawsuit. The key is a ruling that the crown must consult First Nation people when developing on their land.
“Chaleur Terminals” in Belledune is moving forward, and the Mi’gmaq have not been consulted.
The company did hold an information session.
“The crown cannot delegate its duty to consult,” Jerome said. “How does Chaleur Terminal, or any of its parent companies know how to deal with an aboriginal right?”
Another source of contention is the New Brunswick Government’s insistence that the matter is for the federal government, according to Jerome.
“They should of engaged with the feds and made sure the feds engaged with us before they issued any permits. You cannot just say, ‘we’re issuing permits, you go talk to the feds,’” Jerome said. “You’re the crown … It’s the crown that has a legal obligation. It’s the crown that has a fiduciary duty.”
“It’s the province in this case, which represents the crown, that removed us from our land, put us on these reserves, and it has the fiduciary [duty].”
Jerome said there is a misconception that Mi’gmaq people oppose all projects.
“[We’re] looking for where they can be involved in. Where we can benefit, but at the same time, not ruin our way of life.”
There are concerns over the actual project – 110-car trains moving along the Restigouche River twice a day, carrying product from the Alberta tar sands, to be stored and exported. Jerome – and many others – would like to know the various impacts such a project could have on the area.
Jerome said he has not been given any such information. He does, however, have a document
But that is not the basis of the lawsuit.
“It is based directly on the authorization the provincial government gave to build that terminal.”
The court date is set for January 18th.
“We are going into a project management kind of scenario with our lawyers.,” Jerome said. “We’re not going to wait until December to prepare ourselves. We’ll be ready way early.”
He said an important aspect to the preparations will be the principle of Etuaptmum – two eye seeing. Using the strengths of multiple perspectives when understanding or explaining anything.
“From the aboriginal perspective – we know what it is,” said Jerome. “But we need to show western science to a western judge so that he can look at it and say, ‘ok, what they’re saying is backed up by science.'”
Experts in multiple fields are being lined up.
As of July 30th Jerome had not received a response from any of the parities
Bonnie Doyle Creber, a Communications Director with the NB Government said it would not be commenting on the matter while it is before the courts.
Michelle Perron, a Media Relations representative with the Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, decline to comment and stated the federal government was not named in the litigation. She also provided this link about the government’s duty to consult.