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Wolastoqey Chiefs, forestry company sign ‘historic’ agreement

By Brad Perry Mar 1, 2023 | 6:40 AM

An agreement between a New Brunswick forestry company and the Wolastoqey is being described as historic.

On Tuesday, AV Group and the six Wolastoqey First Nation chiefs announced they had signed a memorandum of understanding.

The MOU outlines a path toward mutually-beneficial forest management and economic development opportunities, according to a news release from the Wolastoqey Nation.

“This is a historic step toward partnership between private industry and the Wolastoqey who have stewarded this land since time immemorial. This is a significant step towards respecting our Aboriginal title,” Chief Ross Perley of Neqotkuk (Tobique First Nation) said in a news release.

AV Group and the Wolastoqey will pursue a greater collaborative approach to forest management and “explore alternative forest tenure models that will incorporate meaningful input into decision-making processes.”

One of the first deliverables from the MOU will be creating a mutual guiding principles document for developing a forest co-management model.

The MOU also includes the transfer of a parcel of land that will be determined by feedback from the Wolastoqiyik.

“By simply talking and listening, we discovered more common ground than we initially expected with our Wolastoqey partners,” said Conway Elkins, director of woodland operations for AV Group.

“Now we find ourselves on an exciting and ground-breaking path to a more productive relationship.”

AV Group is one of several New Brunswick forestry companies named in an Aboriginal title claim filed by the Wolastoqey Nation in 2021.

The Chiefs aid they hope the agreement is the first step of a settlement of that claim against AV Group.

“This agreement should be seen by government, other forestry companies and New Brunswickers as a demonstration that by working in lock-step with Indigenous partners, we all can enjoy a sustainable relationship with the land we all now call home,” said Chief Allan Polchies Jr. of Sitansisk (St. Mary’s First Nation),

“Today’s MOU is about beginning a relationship and discussing options for settlement. The Wolastoqey Chiefs would welcome such discussions with any of the Industrial defendants.”


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