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Press Release

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

UMCS Arboretum: Historic Agreement With the Esgenoôpetitj Community

Front row: Louis LeBouthillier (Senior Development Officer, UMCS), Yves Bourgeois (Dean of Studies, UMCS), Samantha Robichaud (Esgenoôpetitj Watershed Association), Alvery Paul (Chief, Esgenoôpetitj Community). Second row: Patrice-Éloi Mallet (Development Officer, UMCS), Serge Mallet (Buildings and Systems Manager, UMCS), Jean-Claude Robichaud (Esgenoôpetitj Community Friend), Clark Dedam (Band Councillor, Esgenoôpetitj First Nation), and Xavier Robichaud (UMCS Representative, Mawiomi Committee).

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The Université de Moncton, campus de Shippagan (UMCS), recently signed an agreement with the Esgenoôpetitj First Nation community for the co-development of the UMCS Arboretum. This project is already underway and consists of planting more than 100 trees and shrubs on campus to reproduce an Acadian forest with a variety of 26 species of woody plants.

The project also includes an Indigenous people's medicinal plant garden, a ten-metre wigwam, an outdoor teaching pavilion and an interpretive centre. In addition, the development of walking trails and a reorganization of the Véloroute de la Péninsule acadienne will create a stopover for cyclists and regulars of this busy trail during the spring, summer and fall seasons.

UMCS's vice-president, Sid Ahmed Selouani, emphasizes that this campus greening project is “not only an effort to meet the challenges brought about by the ecological crisis in the coastal zones, but also a concrete and significant gesture of reconciliation between our Acadian and First Nations communities.” Chief Alvery Paul is delighted with the connections that this joint project has brought about and applauds UMCS's efforts in providing mentoring to young students from his community in their work of documenting the knowledge of Esgenoôpetitj’s Elders regarding cultural and traditional practices. These young people will act as interpreters for the Arboretum's medicinal plant garden and wigwam.

According to economist and land use planner Yves Bourgeois, Dean of Studies at UMCS, from the very beginning of the Arboretum's conception, “It was essential that solid actions accompany the declarations of unceded territories, thus allowing us to forge lasting ties leading to the exchange of ideas and common projects, while giving a voice and a prominent role to the First Nations.” An important feature of this living laboratory is the integration of user-friendly educational facilities.

The meeting between UMCS representatives and the Esgenoôpetitj community marks an important milestone in the campus-sponsored project. Development Officers Louis LeBouthillier and Patrice-Éloi Mallet, supported by Serge Mallet, Buildings and Systems Manager, have been tireless project leaders for over a year, from project management and species identification to student mentoring, planning and facility development.


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