First Nations leaders sign consultation agreement with government

Teresa Wright
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Kindra Bernard and Dion Bernard dance prior to the official ceremony to commemorate the signing of a consultation agreement among the Government of Canada, The Government of Prince Edward Island and the Mi'kmaq of Prince Edward Island at Province House Monday.

First Nations and government now have a clearly defined process for consulting the Mi’kmaq on projects and actions that will affect P.E.I. Aboriginals.

An agreement was signed and celebrated Monday that spelled out the exact terms of consultation that should take place when the provincial and federal government are dealing with P.E.I. Mi’kmaq on issues of mutual concern and interest.

“We will have a process and protocol that we will follow when the government makes decisions that impact First Nations, especially our aboriginal treaty rights,” said Lennox Island First Nation Chief Darlene Bernard in an interview.

“If it works and if it does what it’s supposed to do, we will be working together open-mindedly and trying to find solutions rather than just a paternalistic approach that the government sometimes takes with First Nations.”

Federal Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan said the agreement ensures all levels of government and First Nations are on the same page when consultations are necessary.

“To get it done in a collaborative fashion is the best possible avenue and that’s what this document represents,” Duncan said.

The agreement essentially spells out certain obligations for both the provincial and federal governments to consult with Mi’kmaq officials on proposed actions or decisions that may adversely impact aboriginal treaty rights.

Duncan also made a commitment to meet with provincial and First Nations officials in P.E.I. at least once a year to ensure the issues that affect all parties will continue to have constructive and collaborative dialogue.

Premier Robert Ghiz said this agreement builds on the relationship between the provincial government and the Mi’Kmaq of P.E.I.

He committed to grant of $15,000 a year to the Mi’kmaq Confederacy for the next three years to participate in this enhanced consultation process.

“The goal of the agreement is to strengthen the Mi’kmaq of Prince Edward Island and to further solidify our partnerships,” Ghiz said.

“I welcome the opportunity to participate in these discussions. This will help to ensure that the agreement is relevant and effective.”

Abegweit First Nation Chief Brian Francis said he is pleased this contract will lead to further discussions and consultation with Aboriginals in P.E.I. on a variety of issues.

“It is a further demonstration of what we can achieve by working co-operatively,” Francis said.

This is the second agreement of its kind in eastern Canada, following the Nova Scotia Consultation Terms of Reference agreement signed by the Mi’kmaq of N.S. and provincial and federal officials in August 2010.

Organizations: First Nations, Lennox Island First Nation, Abegweit First Nation

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Eastern Canada

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Recent comments

  • Glad to hear...
    August 14, 2012 - 12:20

    This is good news. Anyone who disagrees with it is simply because they are not a Native person and simply jealous. I am not Native, but I am also not ignorant to the fact that this land we live on and take for granted is Native Land! If we look back in history, it is completely horrific what the Native people were put through. I for one am grateful to them for the right to live on this land.

    • george
      August 14, 2012 - 16:41

      put through ? is native land? not any more I believe....

    • Native Canadian
      August 15, 2012 - 07:30

      Excuse me for critisizing this ignorant position. Only in North America, some people feel that being born here gives different rights based on ethnic background. All over the world countries and nations conquer each others land thousands of years. No retributions that last for over 200 years... It's time to get real, and allow Native people to join Canadians, instead of perpetuating their degradation behind the illusion of assisted living.

  • Canadian
    August 14, 2012 - 07:06

    Great, now we can consult and then annul aboriginal treaty rights and all associated freebees and entitlements this Canadian minority group receives.

  • billy
    August 14, 2012 - 06:20

    Great to hear and now we have a legal process which entails us wasting more monies that canadians are paying for. Here is the number for 2008 by the way........ How much money does the Government of Canada as a whole spend on Aboriginal programs and services? "In terms of fiscal investments, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Health Canada and numerous other government departments and agencies are now spending more than $10 billion each year to fund programs directed to Aboriginal people living on and off reserve. " So that is for one year and for less than 800,000 does one join up please?

  • george
    August 13, 2012 - 20:40

    that is really really really great news ...... now if we could just get a process in place for when tax payers are "affected"

  • intobed
    August 13, 2012 - 18:18

    Now if only we could get the PEI Government to sign an agreement they will consult with the rest of us before the do anything, rather than just forcing their plans upon us, whether we agree or not.