Peace & Friendship Treaty Days 2020

March 12-13, 2020

copyright Natalie Sappier, 2015

Theme: You Cannot Own Another Life Form – Integrating Indigenous Understandings of Sharing into Land and Resource Use Decisions


The theme for this year’s events is “You Cannot Own Another Life Form – Integrating Indigenous Understandings of Sharing into Land and Resource Use Decisions”. Questions of the appropriate role of Indigenous peoples in land and resource management decision-making have recently come to prominence once again, with the principle of “free, prior, and informed consent” holding a prominent place in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the new federal Impact Assessment Act aiming to better integrate Indigenous peoples and nations into the impact assessment process, and British Columbia having passed what is likely the most advanced environmental assessment legislation in Canada in regards to the role of Indigenous peoples in environmental assessments.

While these may seem like new developments in Crown-Indigenous relations, they actually have centuries-old roots in the Maritimes, in the form of the Peace and Friendship Treaties negotiated between the British Crown and the nations of the Wabanaki Confederacy between 1725 and 1779. The Wabanaki nations did not transfer their lands to the European settlers through treaty and therefore intended to steward the lands, waters, and other life forms that the Wabanaki peoples had interacted with for millenia. In the Wabanaki worldview, everything had life, even the stones, and was an independent life form. The Elders remind us that all of creation is connected; all life forms are therefore connected and related us in some way; they are all my relations (Psiw Ntolnapemok). Using other life forms to live was, of course, necessary but it had to be done through appropriate protocols that demonstrated humans’ respect for those other life forms and that protected them from being used to excess or wasted.

With this theme to guide us, we will have a number of displays, ceremonies, and events during the day of March 12 to share the rich culture and worldviews of the Wabanaki with the broader community. On the evening of March 12, we will be hosting Thomas Berger, best known as Commissioner of the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry in the 1970s, for a keynote talk. Then, on the morning of March 13, we will have a panel discussion about Mr. Berger’s talk and the theme of this year’s Peace and Friendship Treaty Days."


Program is subject to change.

Note: All events are at the Wu Conference Centre on the University of New Brunswick Fredericton campus unless otherwise indicated

We recognize and respectfully acknowledge that all UNB events take place on unsurrendered and unceded traditional lands of Wolastoqiyik.

March 12, 2020 - A day to learn about Wabanaki culture and ceremony and the treaty relationship:
9:30 a.m.

Opening Ceremony

(Wu Conference Centre, Auditorium)

10:00 a.m.

Re-enactment of Wolastoqiyik meeting in the longhouse to approve the Peace and Friendship Treaty of 1760 (in Wolastoqiyik with English narration)

1:30 p.m.

Film “Is the Crown at War With Us?” followed by panel discussion

All Day

Wampum-making and the cultural and linguistic significance of wampum to the Wabanaki

All Day

Displays in the foyer of the Wu Centre – Indigenous craftspeople, items from the New Brunswick Museum’s Wabanaki collection, Peace and Friendship Treaty texts (English), UNB Bookstore

7:00 p.m.

Keynote lecture – Thomas Berger, Q.C., O.C., O.B.C., former judge, Supreme Court of British Columbia; Commissioner, Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry (1974-1977):

“Seeking Reconciliation in Resource Management Decisions by Making Space for Indigenous Voices and Respecting Indigenous Knowledge”

March 13, 2020
9:00 a.m.

Opening Ceremony

9:30 a.m.

Panel discussion – You cannot own another lifeform: integrating Indigenous understandings of sharing into land and resource use decisions”


  • Ramona Nicholas, Maliseet Nation Conservation Council

  • Alex Levi, Communications Engagement Coordinator, Kopit Lodge

  • Kevin E. Percy, Executive Director, Atlantic Forest Research Collaborative, University of New Brunswick

  • Eli Enns, President, Isaac Olam Foundation

11:00 a.m.

Water ceremony and closing of event