I will be able:
- To become more familiar with contemporary First Nations communities in urban settings and off-reserve (Activity 1 and 2)
- To explore various features of reserve life (Activity 1 and 2)
- To write and produce an editorial on a First Nations community in New Brunswick (Activity 2)
- To use and draw a map to identify Mi’kmaw and Wolastoqey communities in New Brunswick and their proximity to water forms (Activity 1)
- To compare and contrast two different reserves in New Brunswick (Activity 1)
- To interview an Indigenous person who lives off-reserve (Activity 3)
We have to move away at some point to non-carbon energy sources. Moving towards solar and other green renewable energies is the way to the future, and us as a community we need to take part in that. … It’s part of our duty as stewards of Mother Earth to take care of it.Chief Ross Perley, Tobique First Nation (Neqotkuk)
Tobique First Nation invests in $50 M wind farm near Sussex—CBC News April 03, 2018
First Nations people live in various types of communities across New Brunswick. Some live in communities on land that was originally set aside specifically for the use of what the federal government once called ‘Status Indians’. Others may live on a reserve but adjacent to larger centres like Bathurst, Campbellton, Miramichi, Edmundston or Fredericton. In all these cases, the cities are on unceded territory and continue to expand and encroach more and more on the territory. Some Indigenous people choose to live off-reserve altogether. As Crown Land took ownership of traditional lands, the small parcels of ‘reserve land’ left behind could no longer accommodate population growth. This lesson aims to discuss some of the circumstances and challenges and successes in places where Wabanaki are living now.
Students will get an opportunity to create a report on the First Nations community nearest to where they live along with one further away. Some communities use First Nation individually as part of their official title. However, in these cases they are part of a larger Mi’kmaw or Wolastoqey First Nation composed of multiple communities. To do this, they will use the federal community profiles of First Nations in New Brunswick at https://fnp-ppn.addnc-aandc.gc.ca/fnp/Main/Search/SearchFN.aspx?lang=eng.
The profiles include general information about the Wolastoqey and Mi’kmaw First Nations, including each community’s governance, federal funding, geography, registered population statistics and various census statistics. The students will also use the First Nations’ own websites and draw some conclusions about the challenges and opportunities in each community. These sites are easily accessible by googling the community or the First Nation’s name.
Review why reserves were created initially. Reserves were created in a number of different ways and for various reasons. Before Confederation the colonial administrators of New Brunswick established reserves to eliminate the seasonal lifestyles of First Nations and to be able to open large swaths of land to new non-Indigenous settlers that had arrived. Reserves were also established through formal agreements between First Nations and the Crown, including promises of peace and friendship, and through special arrangements with individual Chiefs. Oftentimes the original land grant agreed to was greatly reduced in size over time.
The unique legal, cultural, and historical issues affecting Indigenous people in New Brunswick have created challenges since Confederation among federal, provincial and First Nations governments. Confederation occurred without consultation or inclusion of First Nations leadership. When New Brunswick was declared bilingual in 1969, it affected Anglophone and Francophone employment opportunities. For Wabanaki, the lack of acknowledgement of Indigenous languages meant that their employment opportunities did not improve. Ongoing systemic racism has perpetuated lower levels of education in a system from which Wabanaki worldviews are absent. The marginalized Wabanaki often include the tradition holders and those who know and can teach cultural values. Diplomas granted by settler-established education systems do not acknowledge this high level of cultural understanding, leaving Wabanaki students looking uneducated on paper. Consequently, there can be high levels of unemployment, as well as health and social problems in some First Nation communities, eventually adding up to an unjust attack on cultural well-being. Poverty also means that Wabanaki people find it difficult to find accommodations.
Yet more recently, the Indigenous cultural revival has led to some significant successes in economic development, tourism, community development and industries involving the use of natural resources (for example, wind farms) often initiated by the First Nation community. This has brought about improvements in health and well-being, partly due to the revival of traditional holistic healing practices.
Many Wabanaki people who live off-reserve or in a city still regard their reserve as their physical and spiritual home. For the Peskotomuhkati in New Brunswick who are presently seeking land where their nation once lived but which is not acknowledged as theirs by settler governments, this is particularly challenging. In general, the customs and traditions of First Nations are more evident on reserves than elsewhere. Many institutions such as universities provide cultural events and forums that bridge the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. For people off-reserve, reserves also offer a chance to visit extended family and relatives. The New Brunswick Aboriginal Peoples’ Council was established in 1972 and is open to all off-reserve Indigenous individuals who value the efforts undertaken to enhance the livelihood of off-reserve Indigenous people. For more information see: https://nbapc.org/home/
It is our hope this lesson will help all students in New Brunswick gain a better understanding of the Wabanaki way of life in First Nations communities.