The Madawaska Maliseet Canadian Pacific Railway Specific Claim


The Madawaska Maliseet First Nation is located near Edmunston, New Brunswick. The claim arises from lands located in the St. Basile # 10 reserve.
Right-of-way claims arise when it is found that the Government of Canada has breached its fiduciary obligation by failing to take the necessary steps to protect and preserve a First Nation's interest in its reserve lands. The CPR railway right-of-way specific claim for the Madawaska Maliseet First Nation dates back to 1878. This First Nation’s reserve had already been created when the New Brunswick Railway Company built a railway through it. This railway was part of a larger rail system linking Woodstock with Edmunston and occupied 7.88 acres of reserve land. In 1890, the New Brunswick Railway Company leased its railway lines to the Canadian Pacific Railway for 990 years. In 1907, the CPR was able to purchase the 7.88 acres through an Order in Council. In 1913, another Order in Council allowed the CPR to purchase a further 3.8 acres on reserve land to allow for the construction of a railway wye (an area used by railways to allow trains to turn around).
In the 1960s, several requests were made by the First Nation and by the Department of Indian Affairs to the CPR to have the two parcels of land given back to the First Nation. The CPR refused to allow the lands to be returned until the company had decided what to do with them.
In 1971, the CPR entered into an agreement with Fraser Paper Company, Ltd., allowing them to build a pipeline on the right-of-way. The pipeline was needed to carry liquid effluent from the Fraser Company pulp mill to a treatment site. In the early 1970s, at about the same time the pipeline was being constructed, the railway lines were also removed.
The Madawaska Maliseet First Nation in 1971 attempted unsuccessfully to sue both Fraser and the CPR in the New Brunswick Supreme Court. In 1988, they entered their grievance into the specific claims process, but it was removed in order to try to find an administrative remedy to solve the issue. However, nothing came of this, either. The 7.88 acre right-of-way specific claim was re-entered in 1998 and was accepted for negotiations in May 2004. In 2008, the specific claim was settled. The Government of Canada provided approximately $5.7 million in compensation. In addition, the reserve status for the claimed lands was confirmed. The First Nation also negotiated an agreement with Fraser Inc. allowing the company to continue to operate the pipeline on the reserve.