Backgrounder - Tobique First Nation – 1892 Surrender Claim

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Canada and the Tobique First Nation are in negotiations to resolve a specific claim. The following provides some background information.

The territory identified in the context of the Tobique First Nation 1892 Surrender Claim is located in New Brunswick's Saint John River Valley southeast where the Saint John and Tobique Rivers meet. The Tobique First Nation Reserve was created in 1801 following a petition by band members. In 1854, a survey was conducted identifying the Tobique lands as having a surface of 18,394 acres.

Early in its history, the community faced some challenges with the presence of squatters and the cutting of timber situated on its territory. The Tobique First Nation expressed its frustration on these matters by issuing several petitions, with the first one in 1818. To deal with these ongoing problems, the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick passed the 1844 Act - An Act to regulate the management and disposal of the Indian Reserves in this Province. Between 1854 and 1868, several lots which were initially part of the reserve were granted or sold by provision of this act.

After Confederation, squatting and timber cutting continued to take place and remained a major concern for Tobique First Nations members, as demonstrated by petitions presented in 1868 and 1881. Until 1892, reserve lands continued to be sold and patented with the opening of the New Brunswick Indian Land Sales Book in 1873.

In 1890, the government of New Brunswick expressed a desire to open a large part of the Tobique Reserve for settlement for non-members. Towards this goal, a surrender of the reserve lands was conducted in 1892. However, in this particular case, the process never obtained approval by an Order in Council - a necessary step in the surrender of Indian lands. This alleged surrender concerned the part of the reserve “south of the Tobique River saving and excepting a tract of two hundred acres on the southern side designated as Indian meadow”. The territory was then almost entirely sold and patented to private individuals in the following decades, except for 169 acres returned to the Tobique First Nation in 1965.

Pursuant to the Specific Claims Policy, Canada accepted for negotiation the Tobique First Nation's 1892 Surrender Claim on May 23, 2008, on the basis that Canada has a lawful obligation due to an invalid surrender.

June 17, 2008