The Law Society of New Brunswick would like to acknowledge that the lands on which we operate are the traditional unceded territories of the Wǝlastǝkewiyik / Wolastoqiyik [wool-los-toe-wee-ek] (Maliseet), Mi’kmaq / Mi’kmaw [[meeg-ma]] and Peskotomuhkati [pes-ko-tom-uh-ka-ti] (Passamaquoddy). These Indigenous Nations and their territories that make up modern day Maritime Provinces, North East Maine and the Gaspé Coast are governed by the “Treaties of Peace and Friendship” which the Mi’kmaq / Mi’kmaw [meeg-ma], Wǝlastǝkewiyik / Wolastoqiyik [woollos-toe-wee-ek] (Maliseet) and Peskotomuhkati [pes-ko-tom-uhka-ti] (Passamaquoddy) co-developed and signed with the British Crown in the 18th century. The treaties did not deal with the surrender of lands and resources but in fact recognized Mi’kmaw, Wəlastəkwey / Wolastoqey and Peskotomuhkati title, and established the rules for what was to be an ongoing relationship between nations.
The Law Society of New Brunswick recognizes the grief and heartbreak currently being experienced by the L’nu (Indigenous) communities over the recent finding of 215 child remains discovered at the Kamloops Residential School. We offer our condolences and sincere sympathies for this atrocity. We acknowledge that this finding and how Canada and the Provinces respond will further define the treatment of Indigenous Peoples in Canada.
As lawyers, we are in a position of privilege and therefore have a responsibility to speak up when injustices occur. One of the biggest injustices in Canada has been, and continues to be, the treatment of this land's First Peoples. These injustices have manifested through various Laws and Policies, one of which was the formation and implementation of Residential Schools and Day Schools. These injustices have also been exacerbated by the lack of accountability of the individuals and institutions that systemically committed and enabled the abuse and crimes against the children of this land’s First Peoples.
We, the Law Society of New Brunswick, support the need to investigate all Residential Schools and Day Schools throughout Canada and call on the Federal and Provincial Governments to provide funding that allows these investigations to take place. We also acknowledge that these investigations need to be Indigenous driven, community-based, survivor-centric and culturally sensitive.
We, the Law Society of New Brunswick, also call on the Federal and Provincial Governments to implement the Calls of Action stated in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report (TRC). Many survivors have given testimony to the TRC commission that spoke to the number of deaths at these residential schools. At that point, investigations should have taken place like those that take place regarding war crimes.
There can be no reconciliation until the truth is known. Indigenous people and settlers need to know the true legacy regarding the treatment of Indigenous people in Canada. Only then can the healing process begin.