Public Can Show their Support at Petitcodiac.Org
FOR IMMEDIATE DISTRIBUTION
MONCTON – APRIL 22, 2021 – On this beautiful Earth Day, communities along the Petitcodiac River can rejoice in the momentous occasion that will soon be upon us. With construction work taking place on a new bridge between Moncton and Riverview and removing the causeway, the Petitcodiac River will finally be able to flow freely once again. There is a unique opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the Petitcodiac River’s history and cultural legacy through the naming of this new bridge. Sentinelles Petitcodiac Riverkeeper (SPR) is pleased to announce that it has submitted a name for consideration to the New Brunswick Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure – for which it is now seeking public support.
“Place names are an important part of our culture and geographic environment,” says SPR Executive Director Krysta Cowling. “They play a vital role in people’s sense of well-being and connection to home and community. Through many conversations between SPR, Fort Folly First Nation, and key stakeholders from communities along the river, the name Pont Petigotiag Bridge has been developed and put forth by our organization.”
As stated by Michelle Knockwood, Indigenous Land Conservation Project Coordinator, Fort Folly First Nation, Petigotiag (pronounced Peti-ko-tiak, similar to Petitcodiac) means “river that bends like a bow” in the Mi’kmaq language. “In this spelling, used by Mi’kmaq communities in New Brunswick, the g’s are pronounced as k’s. The Petitcodiac River lies at the heart of Fort Folly First Nation’s traditional territory. Our community has been here for over 7,000 years, with a summer settlement now known as Beaumont, near Folly Point, located at the tip of the narrow ridge of land separating the Memramcook River and Petitcodiac River, where the two meet in Shepody Bay.”
“We believe the name Pont Petigotiag Bridge recognizes the contributions of Mi’kmaq, Acadian, and Anglophone communities in reversing what was once the most endangered river in Canada to what is now the largest, and most successful, river restoration in the country,” adds SPR President Ronald Babin. “Reconciliation and preservation of the ecological integrity of this shared land, and unceded Mi’kmaq territory, is a process that is increasingly and justifiably acknowledged in the public domain. We must truly act accordingly.”
SPR was created in 1999 by Acadian, Mi’kmaq and Anglophone communities to provide a unified voice and to work together towards the restoration of the Petitcodiac River – whose natural flow was choked by the construction of a causeway in 1967. This had dramatically altered the natural ecosystem functions in the river’s ecosystem.
SPR’s long-fought environmental battle led to the permanent opening of the causeway gates in April 2010, which started the river’s revitalization process with the return of freer tidal flow. Fish species that had almost disappeared from the river began to repopulate. The tidal bore, which has been reduced to a mere trickle, slowly regained some of its strength. Many efforts were made to restore aquatic habitat and aid the recovery of fish species, primarily through the Fort Folly Habitat Recovery Program.
The upcoming removal of the causeway and new bridge opening and upgrades and modernization of Greater Moncton’s advanced secondary and biological wastewater treatment, which are nearly complete, means that we are witnessing the largest river restoration project in Canada at the beginning of the 21st century. It is quite an accomplishment considering that Earthwild International and Wildcanada.net once identified the Petitcodiac River as the most endangered river in Canada.
Naming the new bridge Pont Petigotiag Bridge would be a meaningful and symbolic gesture in recognition of the history and contributions of our tricultural communities. SPR encourages the public to share their support for this name by submitting emails or letters to the New Brunswick Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure / signing a declaration of support towards this name available on the organization’s website – petitcodiac.org.
Sentinelles Petitcodiac Riverkeeper is a not-for-profit organization. Our main objective is to restore the ecological health of the Petitcodiac and Memramcook River watersheds, including the Shepody Bay Estuary, located in southeastern New Brunswick. Learn more at petitcodiac.org.
Fort Folly First Nation
Michelle Knockwood, Indigenous Land Conservation Project Coordinator, (506-871-8923) firstname.lastname@example.org