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Fifth annual Peace and Friendship Treaty Days brings Thomas Berger to UNB

Author: UNB Newsroom

Posted on Mar 11, 2020

Category: UNB Fredericton

Thomas Berger

The University of New Brunswick is hosting its fifth annual Peace and Friendship Treaty Days on March 12 and 13 at the Wu Conference Centre in Fredericton, which will feature a keynote presentation by former MP Thomas Berger.

This year’s theme is “You Cannot Own Another Life Form: Integrating Indigenous Understandings of Sharing into Land and Resource Use Decisions.” The conference will feature a panel discussion, water ceremony and wampum-making. It will begin with a re-enactment of the Wolastoqiyik meeting in a longhouse to approve the Peace and Friendship Treaty of 1760.

Berger is a Vancouver-based lawyer and former MP, MLA and judge on the Supreme Court of British Columbia. He has an abiding interest in issues of Aboriginal rights and title and served as counsel to the Nisga’a in the ground-breaking Aboriginal title case of Calder v. British Columbia.

Berger is perhaps best known as commissioner of the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry between 1974 and 1977. As commissioner, he undertook an assessment of the environmental, cultural, social and economic impacts on northern Canada of the proposal to build a natural gas pipeline through the northern Yukon, along the Mackenzie River valley in the Northwest Territories, through Alberta, and into the United States. He is one of Canada’s foremost experts on the topic of engaging Indigenous peoples in environmental, land, and resource management decision-making. His keynote takes place on Thursday, March 12, at 7 p.m.

“This year’s topic turns out to be a timely one,” says Ian Peach, coordinator of Peace and Friendship Treaty Days at UNB. “Working out how to respectfully engage Indigenous peoples as partners in land and resource use decision-making is important to avoid conflict and disruption, such as in these past months. Everyone needs to know how to do this correctly, and Thomas Berger has a wealth of experience in that.”

The 2020 UNB Peace and Friendship Treaty Days seeks to educate the community about the culture of the peoples of the Wabanaki Confederacy, the Peace and Friendship Treaties that the British signed with the Wabanaki nations in the 18th century, and current Crown-Indigenous relations.

In a discussion panel on March 13, attendees will look back on the treaty relationship and such milestones in the inclusion of Indigenous knowledge and Indigenous worldviews as the Berger Inquiry to discuss how governments can better partner with Indigenous nations and integrate Indigenous understandings of sharing in land and resource management decision-making processes today.

All are welcome to attend Peace and Treaty Friendship Days.

Media contact: Ian Peach, peachil@rogers.com