Wolastoqey demand legislators force action from Higgs government

FREDERICTON (Nov. 16, 2020) – Wolastoqey leaders are troubled by the
silence and indifference they are receiving from the Higgs government. Two months since the last election, neither the premier nor his minister responsible have made any contact with them. They are calling on MLAs
to force action to end systemic racism.

“Mr. Higgs’ first action after his re-election was to relegate the relationship between the Crown and Indigenous peoples to a part-time job, just one of four titles assigned to a first-time minister,” said Chief Gabriel Atwin
of Pilick, speaking on behalf of the Chiefs of the six Wolastoqey Nations in New Brunswick. “We called on government to launch an inquiry into systemic racism within 30 days of the election, here we are and the government continues to refuse to listen.”

This government was re-elected two months ago and its cabinet was appointed seven weeks ago. None of the six Wolastoqey Chiefs have heard from Premier Blaine Higgs or Aboriginal Affairs Minister Arlene Dunn during that time.

“Although Mr. Higgs presides over a majority government, there are already cracks,” said Atwin. “Former minister Jake Stewart has said he will vote in favour of an inquiry. We hope other PC MLAs will do the same.”

Just three PC MLAs would have to join with opposition MLAs to pass a motion in the legislature, or five PC MLAs if the People’s Alliance voted with the government.

In addition to Stewart, former minister of aboriginal affairs and PC MLA for Southwest Miramichi-Bay du Vin, there are five Wolastoqey communities that are represented in the legislature by six PC MLAs, four of whom are cabinet ministers:

• Welamukotuk is represented by Oromocto-Lincoln-Fredericton MLA Mary Wilson;

• Sitansisk is represented by Fredericton North MLA Jill Green and Fredericton-York MLA Ryan Cullins;

• Pilick is represented by Fredericton West-Hanwell MLA Dominic Cardy;

• Wotstak is represented by Carleton-York MLA Richard Ames;

• Neqotkuk is represented by Carleton-Victoria MLA Margaret Johnson.

“We call on these MLAs to consider their conscience and their obligation to their Indigenous constituents and vote accordingly,” said Atwin. “They can ensure that justice is served and systemic racism finally begins to end in this province.”

Media Contact: Tim Porter, 506-461-0554, porter@porterobrien.com