New Brunswick

Bob Rae calls for renewed treaties with N.B. First Nations

Former interim Liberal leader Bob Rae is calling on New Brunswick to renew its historic peace and friendship treaties with First Nations.

Rae says original treaties do not reflect modern day realities facing First Nations People

(REUTERS/Chris Wattie)

Former interim Liberal leader Bob Rae is calling on New Brunswick to renew its historic peace and friendship treaties with First Nations as a step towards consultation on resource development.

Rae says the original treaties, signed with the British Crown in the 1700s, do not reflect modern day realities facing First Nations people.

"Life on reserves remains very tough for people. Incomes among the aboriginal population are well down, they're way down compared to other people and their governments are impoverished," says Rae.

First Nations have … not been consulted properly and their needs have not been accommodated.- Bob Rae

"They don't have any money. So you've got to look at what we need to do to put the relationship between the First Nations and the rest of Canadians on a sounder footing."

Since leaving politics, Rae has been focused on First Nations issues.

He's chief negotiator for the nine Matawa First Nations in talks with the Ontario government about development of the Ring of Fire mining development area in northern Ontario.

Speaking to Information Morning Fredericton, Rae said renewal of the partnership offered in the treaties is crucial for First Nations, as they face greater pressure to share or give up traditional territory for resource development. 

"There are key provincial decisions to be made on resource development. Those decisions are made more difficult by the fact the First Nations have, in many cases, not been consulted properly and their needs have not been accommodated," he said.

Rae said without better agreements and better understanding, there's no certainty of how resource development will go forward.

He said he believes both federal and provincial governments must work together to figure out greater consent and understanding between all parties.

"We need resource sharing. We can look at revenue sharing. We can look at all of these issues together," he said.

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