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New Brunswick wants thousands of land owners excluded from Indigenous title claim

FREDERICTON — The New Brunswick government is moving to protect private property owners from a land claim by the Wolastoqey Nation that seeks title to more than 60 per cent of the province.

Last week the provincial government filed a motion in Court of King’s Bench to exclude 250,000 homeowners and businesses from the title claim of the Wolastoqey Nation, should it succeed.

Premier Blaine Higgs says public statements by the Wolastoqey chiefs that their claim wouldn’t affect private landowners is not adequately reflected in the legal documents the First Nation filed with the court.

Wolastoqey Nation lawyer Renee Pelletier, however, says the nation’s six chiefs have consistently said in public and in court filings that they aren’t looking to displace people or affect their property rights.

The Wolastoqey Nation filed a land claim in 2020 seeking title to more than 50,000 square kilometres in the province that the nation claims as its traditional lands.

The nation updated the lawsuit in 2021 to demand compensation from corporations that operate on about 20 per cent of the land it claims, and from the Crown for allowing the development.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 28, 2023.

The Canadian Press

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