Partnership allows Passamaquoddy to acquire lands and preserve native history

Barb Rayner/Courier Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Carolyn Bennett and Chief Hugh Akagi of the Peskotomuhkati (Passamaquoddy) Nation at Skutik (St. Croix) stand among the unique collection of artifacts of cultural significance to the nation at Camp Chiputneticook at Scotch Ridge.

Scotch Ridge – Saturday was an historic day for the Peskotomuhkati Nation (Passamaquoddy) at Skutik (St. Croix) with the announcement that the federal government has assisted in the purchase of land in Scotch Ridge to preserve Peskotomuhkati heritage
and culture.

Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, Carolyn Bennett, met with
the chiefs of the Peskotomuhkati Nation to announce the acquisition of lands at Camp Chiputneticook as well as a collection of artifacts of cultural significance for the nation.

Camp Chiputneticook is a 2,500 acre property along the St. Croix River, and is of cultural
significance to the nation.

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The federal government provided funding for the nation to acquire the land and buildings
from the Orser family who have used it as their summer home for more than a century.

The department is also assisting the Canadian Museum of History and the nation in acquiring the unique collection of Peskotomuhkati artifacts which are at the lodge. The museum has partnered with the nation to share responsibility for the care, research and exhibition of the collection. This is the first time the museum has made an agreement of this nature.

Speaking before a crowd gathered at the lodge the minister said she was honoured to finally be at Camp Chiputneticook.

“A wonderful place – now under new management. Our government is determined to restore respectful nation-to-nation relations with the Peskotomuhkati as we negotiate a modern treaty,” said Bennett.

“The purchase of this location is an important step in our joint journey of reconciliation, and in addressing issues that have dragged on far too long.”

These discussions, said Bennett, will breathe life into the government’s commitment to a renewed relationship with Indigenous peoples based on recognition of rights, respect, cooperation and partnership.

“A pledge Canada repeated when we met with representatives of the Peskotomuhkati Council, and the government of New Brunswick at a ceremony in September 2016 to reaffirm our treaty relationship.

“At that time, all three parties agreed to implement the principles of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as well as the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

“Grounded in this solid foundation, I have every confidence that we will successfully resolve the Peskotomuhkati Nation land claim for the benefit of your members and all Canadians.”

She said this optimism was also founded on the wise words of Chief Hugh Akagi who has been clear the Peskotomuhkati Nation seeks a treaty solution that works for everyone in this region, and is committed to ensuring the property rights of third parties are protected.

“I couldn’t agree more because I believe profoundly that, working together, we can resolve past grievances in a way that balances the needs and interests of all parties as we build a better future.”

In addition to funding the purchase, Bennett said the government provided the funds for the appraisal of the property, an environmental site assessment, the land transfer taxes and property maintenance for a year.

“Today’s official launch of land claim negotiations is not the last time we will meet as we start on the path of reconciliation. There will be numerous steps along the way as we negotiate an agreement in principle, including a community vote, and eventually reach and sign a final agreement.”

Akagi thanked all the “incredible people” who helped to bring this to fruition adding, “They told me it couldn’t be done. It can be done.

“We welcome this transaction. It is an opportunity for us and the Crown to implement
the kind of landholding that reflects the traditional values of our nation and the intimacy
between our people and the land.

“We want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the Orser family, owners of the Lodge, who for generations shared a long-standing relationship with the Peskotomuhkati.

“2500 acres of conservation forest will provide a unique opportunity to reconnect to our territory as native people. The spirit of this transaction is consistent with the Covenant
Chain relationship our nation has had with the Crown for more than 250 years. Acquiring the lodge and collection is integral to setting the tone for the negotiations.”

The Peskotomuhkati Nation at Skutik Council is based in Qonaskamkuk (Saint Andrews). The nation entered into a number of treaties with the Crown including the 1725
and 1760-61 Peace and Friendship Treaties.

Last July, the department began negotiations with the Peskotomuhkati to define their treaty relationship. The Nation is planning to use the lodge for cultural purposes including a healing centre for anyone needing help with addictions and unresolved trauma.