New Brunswick

Listuguj chief says New Brunswick travel ban doesn't consider ancestral rights

The Chief of Listuguji First Nation says New Brunswick didn’t consider the ancestral rights of the Mi'kmaq people when he imposed a travel ban between Quebec and New Brunswick.

Premier Blaine Higgs says public health was considered when closing the border

New Brunswick closed its borders to non-essential travel on March 25. (Isabelle Larose/Radio-Canada)

The chief of Listuguj First Nation says New Brunswick didn't consider the ancestral rights of the Mi'kmaq people when he imposed a travel ban between Quebec and New Brunswick.

Listuguj First Nation is on the Quebec side of the Restigouche River and have not been able to enjoy their usual access to Campbellton, just across the Van Horne Bridge, under emergency steps taken to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Darcy Gray said there needs to be a better understanding of the need for respect for First Nations and Indigenous people. 

"You know this is our ancestral territory. There are rights that come with that, and there's an approach I think comes with that and I think that's being ignored." 

On Friday, in an interview with Information Morning Fredericton, New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs said he didn't consider the ancestral rights.

"We didn't take into consideration what the traditional rights of access would have been in that region. We took into consideration what the health risks were for any citizen living on either side of the border." 

New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs said discussions are taking place among the four Atlantic provinces about opening up to the rest of Canada. (Edwin Hunter/CBC)

Higgs repeated what he said 10 days ago — that the government is looking at allowing people from bordering region of Quebec to cross. 

"Maybe there is a width here around the border where this could happen, and we wouldn't be concerned about health because it still prevents the activity from say Montreal or outside the region."

He didn't say when that could happen.

He said he's been having discussions with the Atlantic premiers about opening up Atlantic Canada to the rest of Canada in the coming weeks. If that happened, the province wouldn't have to keep considering the option of connecting border communities.

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