Harper Government Pressures Poorest Community To Sign Agreement Despite Court Injunction

By Frank Jr Molley

Burnt Church First Nation, New Brunswick, Canada

It was just another day at the band office on Tuesday when Burnt Church First Nation councillor Mr. Curtis Bartibogue first noticed the files on his desk.

“It’s that time of the year when Aboriginal Affairs Funding Agreements come in, I looked at them briefly and set them aside for thursday’s meeting,” he said during a telephone interview.

Councillor Curtis Bartibogue, Burnt Church First Nation.

Councillor Curtis Bartibogue, Burnt Church First Nation.

It was that same day that he noticed a similar agreement being discussed online which caused him some concern, so he went back to take a closer look at the agreement. Aboriginal Funding agreements are issued across Canada prior to each fiscal year, a process that has the usual outlines on funding dollars.  Particulars involving Burnt Church First Nation include; Education (Elementary, Secondary, Post Secondary), Economic Development, Indian Government Support, Land and Trust Services, Community Infrastructure, Housing, Social Support Services, Social Assistance, and Headstart & Day Camp.

“Certain terminology contained in the prior funding agreements years before were no longer there,” he said as he compared last year’s agreement to this years.  “For example, Section 16 would normally have a non-derogation clause, but that was omitted.  These normally state that signing this agreement does not derogate from any aboriginal or treaty right, this was replaced and I thought that was strange,” he stated. “What I also found was that it said by signing onto this funding agreement our band would agree to the federal guidelines on social programs, which meant we would have to abide by the provincial social rates,” Bartibogue said.

Last year Ottawa planned to impose changes to welfare programs on First Nation communities that would harmonize rates throughout Atlantic Canada with Provincial rates.  But fell short of implementation due to a Federal Court Judge’s decision that effectively placed an injunction until heard in court.  A decision many First Nation leaders of the Maritimes were pleased with.  Despite the existing injunction Chief and Council of Burnt Church were concerned how this current agreement would affect the case currently before the courts.  Calls were made to the Regional Office requesting a meeting with the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs to discuss the matter.

“We met with the Minister and his staff last night [Wednesday] in Miramichi,” he said.  The Minister was in the province conducting Federal announcements in both Eel Ground and Buctouche First Nation respectively. “We asked Minister Valcourt why he didn’t recognize the injunction and he assured us the reason why they are putting the clause into the agreement is just in case the court votes in favour of the government,” Bartibogue said during the interview conducted with Wabanaki Press on Thursday evening.

“We were told that there was nothing wrong with what they were doing, it was just in case they win that they would be able to enforce those changes,” Bartibogue said.  Bartibogue believes that if Burnt Church First Nation signs the funding agreement, prior to the courts decision on social assistance reform in the Atlantic that is expected in June 2013, it may have major implications.  “So we asked if we did not sign the agreement would we still be able to get the essential funding outside of social assistance.  The Regional Director, Ian Gray, told us we would not get it because any new agreement must go through a process with the Treasury Board’s approval.  He also said that without signing they cannot release any funding to the community for April 1, 2013,” Bartibogue said.

Burnt Church First Nation, also known as Esgenoopetitj, is a Mi’gmaq community comprised of approximately 1,800 band members,  with an 80 per cent unemployment rate.   In February of 2010, CBC news reported that seven of the ten poorest postal codes in Canada were First Nation communities and all of them were within the province of New Brunswick.  Burnt Church First Nation was reported to be the poorest postal code in the country, poorer than Vancouver’s Downtown East Side, according to median income data by Statistics Canada.

“It’s blackmail and it’s the most illegal thing ever done,” says Bartibogue. “We told the Minister it’s like you’re putting a gun to our head and telling us to sign.  He just said if we sign there will be no funding problems,” said Bartibogue.  The meeting took place at Rodds Inn in Miramichi, NB on Wednesday.  Present at the meeting was the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, Bernard Valcourt and his staff, including AANDC Regional Director General Ian Gray, Miramichi MP Tilly O’Neill Gordon, along with Chief Alvery Paul and eight of twelve Council members from Burnt Church First Nation.

Chief and Council of the Mi’gmaq community were told they have until noon Friday, March 15, 2013 local time to sign the agreement.  Coupled with pressing economic issues and an annual dependency of Federal Funding averaging $16 million dollars, the Chief and Council have decided not to sign the agreement.

“The outcome of our meeting today [Thursday] was that we can’t sign.  We asked the public and informed them of the situation and they stand behind us not to sign.  To accept the social reform, the omitting clauses of the treaties and the case before the courts, is something we can’t do to our community,”  says Councillor Curtis Bartibogue.

For the poorest postal code in Canada one would have to believe this to be an area of great concern given the Country’s approach to economic stability and strong Canadian values involving First Nation, Inuit and Metis communities across the land.  However, despite the sudden turn of events for the Mi’gmaq of Burnt Church First Nation, Canada’s Aboriginal Affairs office announced yesterday the designing and construction of a new school in Eel Ground First Nation.  A similar announcement was later made regarding funding for a new water treatment facility at Buctouche First Nation, both communities are located in New Brunswick and both are also Mi’gmaq nations.  Two out of three announcements that prove positive results for the future of these ancient peoples is cause for applause indeed.  The question remains, how many other Mi’gmaq and Maliseet communities were subjected to signing these kinds of funding arrangements?  Wabanaki Press will continue to follow this story as it develops.


“The Harper Government remains focused on four priorities, as outlined by the Prime Minister, that Canadians care most about: their families, the safety of our streets and communities, their pride in being a citizen of this country, and their personal financial security.”  Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada website, March 14, 2013, News Release and Statements. Ref. #2-3768

With files from CBC, Windspeaker and Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada.


49 thoughts on “Harper Government Pressures Poorest Community To Sign Agreement Despite Court Injunction

  1. Emile Stevens September 9, 2014 at 1:01 AM Reply

    Harper being raised in Calgary was no doubt indoctrinated like many in Alberta into believing all first nations are Listerine swilling money wasters. I could not believe the racism towards the first nations here when I moved here. It’s sad to hear of the trickery and deceitfulness my cousins are facing on the east coast.

    -Emile LeClerc

  2. Brianna May 13, 2014 at 9:29 AM Reply

    Very shortly this site will be famous amid all blogging and site-building users, due to it’s good posts

  3. Glenn Archie May 17, 2013 at 12:52 PM Reply

    This is another attemp at genocide! Harper wants Native people off our god given land. Who was here when they landed their boats? And they bring all the diseases known to man! All these diseases were not known by Native people, nor did they exist! We have inherent rights to these lands. Churches were used to remove us from our lands, the word of GOD? I think not! White religions have been used in the wrong way, and there’s so many! We have one! So please do not sign the agreements, hope our council doesn’t!

  4. […] March 15, 2013 Burnt Church First Nation, New Brunswick, Canada It was just another day at the band office on Tuesday when Burnt Church First Nation councillor Mr. Curtis Bartibogue first noticed t…  […]

  5. Kimberly March 21, 2013 at 11:43 AM Reply

    Can anyone provide the actual documents…there is a human rights lawyer who would like to look at them

  6. m jock March 21, 2013 at 12:09 AM Reply

    Harper trying to starve out the native peoples!!! Harper? Hitler? All he is lacking is a giant furnace.

    • m jock March 21, 2013 at 12:19 AM Reply

      Canada the letter C at the beginning of this word was put in place of the letter K because of the french spelling. Kanata means the Village in native language . Take back the village!!!

  7. freeman March 17, 2013 at 2:55 PM Reply

    The $1 a person is the way to solve a lot of problems and I would like to help make this possible. The trick is to make it easy with no overhead. Social Networking 2 – replace Social Security with goodwill and make the government redundant. People are fed up and the time to stand up is now.

  8. Keetha Metallic March 17, 2013 at 11:57 AM Reply

    Just responding to the comment Michael Tittler had to say at the beginning of this issue …if you don’t mind Harper spending millions of dollars on unnecessary things like limo’s…then why is it you mind so much on us receiving what’s our’s. After all we were here first. No matter what anyone say’s.

  9. Gary Cook March 17, 2013 at 8:05 AM Reply

    Our goverment has never honered the terms they made with people living here before we became a country and because of that they destroyed our livlihoods in the fisheries ,

    this has cost the Canadian Taxpayers billons.

  10. Glen Campbell March 17, 2013 at 4:19 AM Reply

    It should be known that welfare rates differ greatly between First Nations on reserve and any other Canadian person receiving welfare. On reserve persons receive less than half of what is administered provincially.

  11. […] March 15, 2013 Burnt Church First Nation, New Brunswick, Canada It was just another day at the band office on Tuesday when Burnt Church First Nation councillor Mr. Curtis Bartibogue first noticed t…  […]

  12. Dorothy Gardiner March 16, 2013 at 9:24 PM Reply

    It’s a very difficult decision when you’re dealing with the future at the cost of the here and now. Advice is easy from a distance. May God bless you.

  13. MDB March 16, 2013 at 3:43 PM Reply

    How much is this Councilman Gary making a year? 80% unemployment in New Brunswick? Come on, we’re not talking the remote north here. The Federal Government is providing millions year after year, building new schools and water treatment plants and this guy is worried about clauses. What is the band council doing about some economic development or are they more concerned with protecting their jobs?

    • Beth Wallace March 16, 2013 at 5:09 PM Reply

      Its a little darker than that…..threatening existing funding “if you don’t sign” is pathetic- don’t buy into Harper’s racism- his policies and the way he is doing business is affecting everyone- don’t worry about Gary’s salary- worry about the $1 million Harper spent on taking limo’s to India, or the $47 million he gave to Syria, or the $3000 he spent on billboards in another country warning refugees not to come to Canada or the $1 billion he has earmarked for drones and who else knows….because his g’ment just voted to increase secrecy around finances. He is the enemy- not natives.

      • lagatta à montréal March 16, 2013 at 6:29 PM

        Bravo, Beth. The billboards weren’t terribly expensive, but they targeted the Roma people, who have been treated as unjustly as Indigenous peoples have been in Canada and throughout the Americas, and who face neo-Nazi terror in Hungary.

        Love your cat, by the way.

      • Michele Tittler March 17, 2013 at 1:44 AM

        don’t YOU worry about Harper’s spending. He can take a limo to save his life, we don’t mind. What we DO mind, is the racism from the aboriginals, thinking they can bully and extort from Canada and her citizens, as if it’s their right to get everything for free, while other races have to work for it. The way the aboriginals talk is so backwards, it’s astounding. “Blackmail” is not when you get money for free and are asked to be accountable for it, and it’s not when you don’t get what you demand, for your one race. Blackmail is when you stand and block roads and threaten terrorism if you can’t get your way. Indeed, the entire aboriginal narrative is blackmail and extortion. Now that you’ve learned that, let’s move on to the lesson about what “genocide” really is. It’s not the aboriginals, and if our Supreme Court’s recent decision applies to all Canadians (we’ll see) then the aboriginals must be held accountable for using that word, to sound as if we are all purposefully killing them because of their race. It’s DISGUSTING that they use that word, as well as abusive, as well as erroneous. The victim hood blame game is their way of life. Here’s a new word and a new dialogue, ACCOUNTABILITY. END RACE BASED LAW.

    • Nicole Marie Northcott March 16, 2013 at 8:01 PM Reply

      @MDB How about making use of Google maps to see exactly where the Burnt Church First Nations reserve is. It is a 2 hour drive from Moncton, the closest urban area and a 21/2 hour drive to Fredericton. I’m not sure where in Canada you live, I do suspect either Alberta or Saskatchewan however, but the economy on the east coast hasn’t been robust for years. Much of the employment in the Maritimes is seasonal. The same seasonal employment that has been derided by Harper.

      Before you pass judgement on out of work Canadians, those outside of Alberta and Saskatchewan, let me tell you that unemployment is actually higher than government statistics reflect. Can’t even trust the ReformaCons to report unemployment accurately. Harper’s new rules with regards to EI have made it more difficult for many to even qualify. Plus, many have exhausted their benefits and are no longer counted in the rate of unemployed. You see, if you aren’t receiving EI you are *not* included in unemployment stats.

      The rest of your reply is petty and nonsensical. If you had ever bothered to educate yourself on the Treaties (legal contracts) you would know that the first settlers who arrived here are contractually obligated to the First Nations. My Irish immigrant grandparents made me aware of the special relationship with First Nations 40 years ago. Nothing preventing you from educating yourself. Try Google. 😉

  14. Ernie Crey March 16, 2013 at 3:07 PM Reply

    It’s the “crats”. Politicians don’t know shit from shinola.

  15. Beth Wallace March 16, 2013 at 2:28 PM Reply

    Good for you. Harper’s politics do not reflect in any way my vote in the last election. Stand strong!

  16. […] March 15, 2013 Burnt Church First Nation, New Brunswick, Canada It was just another day at the band office on Tuesday when Burnt Church First Nation councillor Mr. Curtis Bartibogue first noticed t…  […]

  17. jimmy durocher March 16, 2013 at 2:32 AM Reply

    stay strong and stay united…..don’t give an inch, even……

  18. NOT IMPRESSED March 16, 2013 at 1:49 AM Reply

    Harper trying to pass off an “AMENDED” Funding Agreement, with MAJOR CHANGES TO THE BANDS ENTITLEMENTS IS DISPICABLE, SNEAKY, and IMMORAL behaviour! Now you know why First Nations DO NOT TRUST GOV’T. ESPECIALLY HARPER AND HIS CRONIES!

  19. NOT IMPRESSED March 16, 2013 at 1:43 AM Reply

    “DISPICABLE, Underhanded, and Sneaky, and IMMORAL”! Typical of Harper and his cronies though!

  20. MissTdawn March 16, 2013 at 1:05 AM Reply

    omg its like the same thing as when they killed the buffalo our food supply . . . DON’T SIGN !!! WE WILL FIND A WAY TO SURVIVE?

  21. Drummer March 15, 2013 at 11:29 PM Reply

    Report this to the UN Special rapporteur of the rights of Indigenous peoples. Canada is preventing him from entering the country at the moment…this is really unsettling.. Here is his contact info:
    Contact the Special Rapporteur:

    Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples
    c/o OHCHR-UNOG
    Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
    Palais Wilson
    1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
    Fax: +41 – 22 917 90 06

    Information for contacting Professor Anaya regarding matters not related to his work as Special Rapporteur:

    The University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law
    1201 E. Speedway Blvd.
    PO Box 21 0176
    Tucson, AZ 85721, U.S.A.
    Phone: +1 (520) 626-6341
    Fax: +1 (520) 621-9140

  22. Jason B March 15, 2013 at 9:16 PM Reply

    What does this mean “…which meant we would have to abide by the provincial social rates…”.

    Is this what is paid out in welfare type payments, or what exactly? Anyone?

    • Stephanie March 16, 2013 at 12:22 AM Reply

      My impression of the meaning, and I am not a lawyer, is that the federal government wants First Nations, treaty people, to agree to give up their treaty right to be supported by the federal government, at whatever rate had been negotiated, and instead agree to be paid at the rates for welfare set by the province. That’s what it sounds like to me.

  23. Al Mack March 15, 2013 at 9:12 PM Reply

    I wonder how many lawyers it took to come up with this one!!
    Scarier still I wonder what else they have up their collective sleeves to try and hoodwink natives into giving up something for nothing….

  24. jane March 15, 2013 at 9:10 PM Reply

    harper your fired..dont sign anything native family..just kick him our..maybe we should break the treaty .on both side of the line they put thier..this is our country all native land

  25. Ginger Knockwood March 15, 2013 at 8:36 PM Reply

    Harper & The Canadian Gov don’t realize what they are getting themselfs into we are here and always have been here, they never beat our ancestors in the past and they will not win this fight either as long as we stick together they will never win and first nations people will always stick together it is our culture.

  26. quinhua March 15, 2013 at 8:26 PM Reply

    This move by the Feds is totally unacceptable, disgraceful, racist and dishonest. The trouble is, it doesn’t matter what I, or most anybody else thinks. The gov’t does what it wants. They don’t even seem to listen to the Supreme Court. There is a name for gov’ts like this and there is a way to get rid of them. A hard way.

  27. Diane Sherman March 15, 2013 at 8:14 PM Reply

    now ain’t this just a forked tooth snake in the grass… hope he gets a scorpion … you know where… what an underhanded conniving “white” taped series of event… Bravo for Burnt Church decision. —and yah can use Canadian lawyers… who says yah can’t ?

  28. chkwab March 15, 2013 at 6:57 PM Reply

    They can’t just cut us of it’s against the law!

  29. Kristien Michael March 15, 2013 at 5:27 PM Reply

    Thank you for this update and thank you for this website.

  30. Renee Higa March 15, 2013 at 5:00 PM Reply

    I feel that we should pull together and provide this reserve with funds for contributing to the fight for our Inherited Rights! We need to support each other through this, because this is just the start of what will come ahead! They need to set up an account where funds can be donated to this New Brunswick Reserve. If we Aboriginals donated $1 per head in our families to this reserve, we would be paying it forward and we can help each other get through this movement without having to sign anything that the Government sets before us. Let’s support each other and get through this together!

    • Thank you Renee, it is with heart and soul that we as peoples help others in need. I appreciate your comments, and all comments about this breaking story. Wela’lioq, thank you everyone.

  31. ericjlarge March 15, 2013 at 4:26 PM Reply

    The people of the community and its leaders need to stay united.

  32. Edos March 15, 2013 at 3:35 PM Reply


  33. Basil March 15, 2013 at 1:12 PM Reply

    Stephen Harper should of been force to take a morality course. And a political Major to be eligible to even run to as candidate for prime minister. Rather then be a careless in educated dictator. It seems like his whole alliance party has not idea that Coerion is completely unacceptable .

  34. […] Harper Government Pressures Poorest Community To Sign Agreement Despite Court Injunction. […]

  35. steve March 15, 2013 at 11:27 AM Reply

    so this means that people would have to start paying rent and electricity, and there welfare monies would change

    • Edos March 15, 2013 at 3:34 PM Reply

      Yep and every non-Indian resident would need to vacate N.B. ideally via Maine although you could try Quebec but I highly suspect they wouldn’t want your greedy self absorbed ego anywhere near their border.

  36. sandra warner March 15, 2013 at 10:05 AM Reply

    i have a personal oppinion,,,,excuse my spelling ,,but they were saying tat we couldn’t use canadian lawyers because they were under the crown ,,so why can’t we get 3or 4 from another country ,we can do this ,have Faith ,and believe in the creator and our ancesters are here ,,light the SACRED FIRE and make offerings and prayers ,,we willwin ,,,,,

  37. GARY March 15, 2013 at 9:24 AM Reply

    Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, Bernard Valcourt,Reminds me of a general the the Americans us to have,General George Armstrong Custer,his actions are the same way as he tried to get rid of the natives,


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