University of New Brunswick Hosting Thomas Berger at 5th Peace and Friendship Treaty Days
The University of New Brunswick is hosting its fifth Peace and Friendship Treaty Days on March 12 and 13 at the Wu Conference Centre on the University’s Fredericton Campus. The theme for this year’s event is “You Cannot Own Another Life Form – Integrating Indigenous Understandings of Sharing into Land and Resource Use Decisions”. This is a timely topic, especially given the national protests over the conflict between the Crown and the Wet’suwet’en over the Coastal Gaslink pipeline in northern British Columbia.
The highlight of the event is the keynote talk by Thomas Berger, at 7:00 p.m. on March 12. Thomas Berger is a Vancouver-based lawyer and former Member of Parliament, Member of the British Columbia Legislature, and judge with an abiding interest in issues of Aboriginal rights and title. He was counsel to the Nisga’a in the ground-breaking Aboriginal title case of Calder v. British Columbia. Mr. Berger is best known, however, as Commissioner of the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry between 1974 and 1977. As Commissioner, he undertook an assessment of the environmental, cultural, social, and economic impacts on northern Canada of the proposal to build a natural gas pipeline through the northern Yukon, along the Mackenzie River valley in the Northwest Territories, through Alberta, and into the United States. He is, thus, probably Canada’s foremost expert on the topic of engaging Indigenous peoples in environmental, land, and resource management decision-making.
This year’s UNB Peace and Friendship Treaty Days seeks to educate the community about the culture of the peoples of the Wabanaki Confederacy, the Peace and Friendship Treaties that the British signed with the Wabanaki nations in the 18th century, and Crown-Indigenous relations today, with a number of events at the Wu Centre during the day of March 12. In a discussion panel on the morning of March 13, we will look back on the treaty relationship and such milestones in the inclusion of Indigenous knowledge and Indigenous worldviews as the Berger Inquiry to discuss how governments can better partner with Indigenous nations and integrate Indigenous understandings of sharing in land and resource management decision-making processes today. For anyone, in Indigenous communities, in government, in the private sector, or among the interested public, who wants to understand how Indigenous peoples should be properly engaged in resource development decisions, Thomas Berger’s talk and UNB’s Peace and Friendship Treaty Days are a golden opportunity to learn. As all of New Brunswick is unceded land of the Wolastoqey, the Mi’kmaq, and the Peskotomuhkati, the lessons we can learn from these discussions matter to us all.
Contact: Chelsea Cullins