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N.B. Mi’gmaq community supports movement to change Université de Moncton’s name

Click to play video: 'Mi’gmaq chiefs support movement to change Université de Moncton name'
Mi’gmaq chiefs support movement to change Université de Moncton name
WATCH: New Brunswick Mi’gmaq chiefs are supporting a movement to change the name of the Université de Moncton. The university is named after a British colonist who played a key role in the Acadian expulsion. Suzanne Lapointe reports. – Apr 6, 2023

New Brunswick Mi’gmaq chiefs sent a letter Wednesday to Université de Moncton president Denis Prud’homme supporting the movement to change the institution’s name.

“Mi’gmaq Chiefs New Brunswick lend their support to the university in their pursuit to change the title, to a name that is more inclusive and less offensive. From the Mi’gmaq perspective, it is simply the right thing to do,” read the letter from Mi’gwame’l Tplu’taqnn Inc. (MTI), an organization representing Mi’gmaq communities in New Brunswick.

The university will be examining the possibility of a name change at the next board of governors meeting in mid-April, in response to a petition launched by Acadian activist Jean-Marie Nadeau in March.

“With the Université de Moncton, it’s named after (Robert Monckton) who was involved in the expulsion of the Acadians,” Pabineau First Nation Chief Terry Richardson told Global News in an interview on Thursday.

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“I’m supporting the Acadians as we have always supported our Acadian brothers and sisters in their endeavors,” he said.

Richardson said he became aware of the issue when he was approached by members of the Acadian community, and consulted with other Mi’gmaq chiefs.

“This to me is recognizing the hurt of that particular name for a particular group of people, the Acadians, and why not?” he said.

Click to play video: 'Acadian activists amass petition signatures to rename Université de Moncton'
Acadian activists amass petition signatures to rename Université de Moncton

Nadeau said he is pleased to have the support of the province’s Mi’gmaq community.

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“(Beyond) the language issue we have a history of solidarity that is clear,” Nadeau said on Thursday.

Former student council president Jean-Sébastien Légèr told Global News in March that the university’s students are concerned a possible name change could mean increased tuition.

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“The main argument that I’ve heard on campus on this issue is who is going to pay for this change?”  Légèr said.

Nadeau said the costs could be handled through a fundraiser.

“I think with the enthusiasm behind the request to change the name of the Université de Moncton, I think the population is there to put their money on the table,” Nadeau said.

The name change has been the subject of debate in the Acadian community.

A group of ten prominent Acadians, including former deputy premier of New Brunswick Aldéa Landry and ex-Supreme Court judge Michel Bastarache, sent a letter to the university’s board of governors opposing the potential name change on Monday.

Global News reached out to Landry for comment on Thursday but did not hear back by the time of publication.

The letter argued that changing the name would only be a symbolic gesture, and also highlighted the potential cost of rebranding.

“Personally I found the letter was weak in terms of arguments,” Nadeau said. “But that’s their point of view and I respect that.”

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A representative for the Université de Moncton told Global News Thursday that the university’s governing bodies need to investigate further before the president will make further comments on the matter.

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