First Nations say reclaiming Crown land a 'desperate' move
Professor of aboriginal law says staking a claim to public land on Saturday will be symbolic
Members of the Elsipogtog First Nation will begin reclaiming parcels of land in Kent County on Saturday by placing plaques on Crown land but an aboriginal law expert says it will be a symbolic exercise with no legal consequences.
Kenneth Francis says plaques will be placed on 50 separate 100-acre lots which will be staked off.
He hopes the effort to reclaim stewardship over all unoccupied Crown land, beginning with a district known as Signitog in southeastern New Brunswick, will be taken seriously by the provincial government.
It's a matter of survival, it's our life at stake so if we have to use all the punches that we have, we will.- Kenneth Francis, Elsipogtog First Nation
"This is getting really, really, really desperate for us and they better be looking at it as very desperate for them because I think this is going to be a confrontation and a conflict of very momentous times," said Francis.
Serge Rousselle, a professor of aboriginal law at the University of Moncton, says placing plaques on Crown land will have no legal consequences.
"It's a show of solidarity, that's about it."
Rousselle says in order to prove their claim to the land the Elsipogtog First Nation would have to show regular occupancy and use of the land for hunting and fishing.
"It would be an occupation, possession, which goes back pre-British sovereignty up to now, so they cannot, for example, claim all of New Brunswick," he said. "They have to show a real relation with a specific part of land and that takes time."
Rousselle says they would also have to show that they continue to have a relation with that land.
Documents and oral testimony from elders could be used as evidence in court, but Rousselle says his advice would be for First Nations to continue negotiating.
"In New Brunswick not a lot has been done and unfortunately we just realize it when this kind of event happens …so the only way to do it is, as the Supreme Court said, we are all here to live together for a long time so we better sit down and negotiate modern treaties."
Francis says First Nations feel like they are in a crisis with very few options
"It's a matter of survival," he said. "It's our life at stake so if we have to use all the punches that we have, we will."
RCMP investigating racial slur by officer
New Brunswick RCMP are confirming one of its members made an inappropriate comment during the violent clash with protesters near Rexton on Oct. 17.
Witnesses have said the officer made a slur against aboriginal people.
RCMP Cst, Jullie Rogers-Marsh says exact details of the comment are not being released.
"What I can say is it certainly was an inappropriate comment. The RCMP is taking this very seriously. It is certainly is a behaviour that is unacceptable. The member was sent home immediately and an internal investigation is ongoing."
Rogers-Marsh wouldn't say whether the officer is being paid while off-duty or how long the investigation is expected to take.