The Mi’gmaq, Peskotomuhkati (Passamaquoddy), and Wolastoqey (Maliseet) Peoples, which are the Indigenous Nations in New Brunswick, have sustained their families and communities in New Brunswick for thousands of years. At the time of contact with European settlers they had vibrant cultures with economies based on the use and trade of plants, fish, seafood, and wildlife, supported by land and water networks connecting camps, villages, and spiritual places. Their relationship with the land has always been one of respect, reciprocity, and conservation of natural resources.
The Indigenous Nations in New Brunswick and the other Maritime provinces signed Peace and Friendship Treaties with Great Britain (the Crown) in the 18th century. Under these Treaties the Crown and Indigenous signatories agreed to co-exist peacefully and encouraged cooperation to help the British and other settlers establish lives in the Atlantic provinces and country we live in today.
To this day, the Peace and Friendship Treaties are the foundation of the relationship between Indigenous Nations, federal, and provincial governments. These treaties have been included in the Canadian Constitution since 1982. The Treaties protect the rights of Indigenous Nations to live on the land they have cared for since time immemorial. The Treaties protect the rights of Indigenous Nations to harvest natural resources to support their cultural, social, health, spiritual and economic wellbeing.
Treaties are signed on a nation-to-nation basis and the relationship is between the people of those respective nations. Therefore, we are all Treaty People. Let’s all take our Treaty responsibilities seriously, respect differences in rights, celebrate our shared enjoyment of the lands, waters, and resources, and work as partners in protecting these precious natural resources.