""Maliseet Nation peoples are finalizing plans to return to their ancestral hunting and fishing territories in the New Brunswick portion of their tribal territories where their Maliseet forefathers have lived, hunted, gathered and fished for more than 10,000 years"", said Henry ""Hank"" Bear, Maliseet lawyer and Member of the Maliseet Nation.
Like the Gana and Gwi Bushmen, Mr. Bear
stated, Maliseets have international legal rights and intend to preserve and practice their traditional economies, including a hunter-gatherer lifestyle.In addition, Maliseets have also preserved their commercial fishing lifestyles.But the Canadian provincial and federal governments have historically resisted and then, through RCMP, DNR and then DFO police tactics, denied Maliseets access to their ancestral hunting grounds in Mount Carelton Provincial Park and ancestral fishing territories at Fundy National Park by forcing Maliseets to live in relocation camps called Indian Reserves, where Maliseets have been penned up on small plots of ground well away from their preferred hunting and fishing grounds; Indian Reserves where there still exists the highest rates of unemployment, alcoholism, drug and domestic abuse, and suicide rates in North America.
The illegal occupation, wrongful possession and wholesale granting of Maliseet ancestral lands to immigrant New Brunswickers, railroad companies, pulp and paper companies and the setting up of two huge land areas of over a million acres each at Mount Carlton Provincial Park at the headwaters of the Tobique River and the other at Fundy National Park on the shores of the Bay of Fundy had everything to do with the removal of Maliseet people from their ancestral hunting and fishing grounds. Mr. Bear
says, ""It is clear that it was the intention of Canadian provincial and federal officials and politicians that Maliseets be denied their ancestral modes of living off their land and fishing grounds.The present condition of the Maliseet people, despite recent efforts to improve themselves economically, administratively and politically, remains evidence enough of how badly Canada''s and New Brunswick''s illegal land grab has hurt the peoples of the Maliseet Nation
Over the past few years, beginning, perhaps with the Marshall fishing rights case and, most recently, the Sappier and Polchies case, Maliseets have won several court cases where the Supreme Court of Canada
have upheld Maliseet rights to fish, hunt and gather wood in our ancestral grounds.These historic court rulings make it clear that it was illegal for Canada or the Province of New Brunswick to deny Maliseets access to these same ancestral grounds, Mr. Bear
stated, and Maliseet peoples are now making preparations to leave the small Indian Reserve encampments and begin their return to their traditional way of life in the Mount Carleton Provincial Park as a main Maliseet Nation
base to support hunting and gathering activities and in Fundy National Park as a main Maliseet Nation base to support their commercial fishing activities in the Bay of Fundy. Mr. Bear
said, ""I am very happy to see this begin to happen after working so long to achieve this goal.
...""Our forests are being clear cut"" said Mr. Bear, past Administrator of the Maliseet Forest Service.