Hon. Sandra M. Lovelace Nicholas:
Honourable senators, my question was to the minister as well and, as you know, there was no time.
I have been a volunteer for the Maliseet Advisory Committee on Archaeology, or MACA, long before my appointment to the Senate. MACA is a provincially recognized committee, which consists of six Maliseet communities and the province, and addresses concerns about issues that the Maliseet people have concerning archaeology. We have been ensuring that the province follows protocol on archaeology assessments as it relates to Maliseet sites and artifacts.
Presently there is a project in the city of Fredericton which will impact the grounds of Officers’ Square and has a high probability of archaeological effects. Since the appointment of the new director of archaeology, it appears the previous process to ensure impact assessments are followed is not happening. A number of complaints have been received by MACA. It appears that there has been a breakdown in communication between the province and MACA and Maliseet chiefs. The executive director of the culture, heritage and archaeological division has said that the municipality is in control of doing impact assessments.
My question to the minister was: Why is the government not following the protocol that was established previously between the provinces, MACA and the Maliseet chiefs of doing impact assessments where there is a high probability of finding Maliseet sites and artifacts?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for her question. I will ensure that it is brought to the attention of the minister and that an appropriate response is provided.
Senator Lovelace Nicholas: Would you not agree that the preservation of First Nations culture and heritage is part of the fabric of this country? Archaeological artifacts are the proof of our heritage, and this requires the protection of these grounds by the province and Government of Canada.
Senator Harder: On that question, I can give you my assurance that that is certainly the case. I would reference the reaction in this chamber, which is broadly held, that we must do all we can to preserve artifacts and celebrate the roots from which this country is built.