Some of New Brunswick’s largest forest companies say their operations are at risk as a result of a claim by the Wolastoqey Nation on about 60 percent of the land in the province.
Three companies – and several affiliates – want a specific document removed from the lawsuit, and they recently filed a legal petition in the Court of King’s Bench to do so.
They say allowing “certificates of pending litigation” – which others warn the country is part of an ongoing legal battle – to register for registration “is likely to disrupt and undermine the operations of their businesses,” according to filings, copies of which have been obtained by CBC.
The companies are part of a long list of defendants that includes some of the province’s largest entities, including the province of New Brunswick, the government of Canada, energy companies, railroads and leisure companies.
The Wolastoqey Nation first filed land title claim in 2020 for more than five million hectares that the chiefs identify as traditional Wolastoqey lands.
In 2021, they amended the claim to specifically name some of the province’s largest companies, including forestry contractors JD Irving Ltd., Acadian Timber and HJ Crabbe & Sons.
The Wolastoqey Nation of New Brunswick represents the First Nations of Matawaskiye (Madawaska), Wotstak (Woodstock), Neqotkuk (Tobique), Bilijk (Kingsclear), Sitansisk (St. Mary’s), and Welamuktok (Oromocto) along the St. John River, also known as known to Wolastoq.
Three separate applications were recently filed in the Court of King’s Bench by HJ Crabbe & Sons, Acadian Timber and JD Irving – as well as several affiliates.
According to the motions, the forest companies want the certificates removed from the claim because they are “incompatible” and “inconsistent” with the Indigenous title.
In its filing, HJ Crabbe & Sons argues that certificates of pending litigation amount to a “cease and desist” order on the land they own, preventing the company from selling land “and financing its business and jeopardizing the viability of its operations.” “.
The other two companies make similar claims in their own filings.
No comment from company
In an emailed statement, Renée Pelletier, an attorney representing the Wolastoqey Nation, said: “We intend to contest these motions, but we will not comment further on the matter as it is currently in court.”
No date has yet been set for hearing the motions.
Pelletier said the Wolastoqey Nation has claimed certificates of pending litigation “on the properties that we wish to return from the Industrial Defendants. Here, CPLs would serve as a tool to protect the rights of the Wolastoqey pending trial, but also to protect potential buyers and lenders by communicating the claim.”
When contacted Thursday, a spokesman for JD Irving declined to comment. Similar inquiries to HJ Crabbe & Sons and Acadian Timber have gone unanswered at the time of publication.