Millbrook, Nova Scotia (August 31, 2010) - The Honourable John Duncan, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, Darrell Dexter, Nova Scotia Premier and Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Co-Chairs of the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq Chiefs, Chief Terrance Paul of Membertou and Chief Gerard Julian of Paqtnkek, finalized an agreement to create one-window access to consultation with the Mi'kmaq of Nova Scotia.
The Agreement signed today establishes an independent, clear and efficient means for Canada and Nova Scotia to consult the Mi'kmaq of Nova Scotia on proposed activities or projects. The Agreement on consultation is part of the broader negotiations to resolve outstanding questions in relation to Aboriginal and treaty rights and self-government between Canada, Nova Scotia and the Mi'kmaq of Nova Scotia, called the Made-in-Nova Scotia Process. It addresses the direction provided by the Supreme Court of Canada regarding the legal duty to consult. In the 2004 Haida and Taku River decisions, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the federal and provincial Crown have a legal duty to consult, and, where appropriate, accommodate when Crown conduct may adversely impact established or potential Aboriginal and Treaty Rights.
“Canada is pleased to be a signatory to this important Agreement,” said Minister Duncan. “This Agreement demonstrates Canada's commitment to finding common solutions that will lead to a more effective and efficient consultation process and consistent decision making. The spirit of co-operation that led to this agreement will allow us to continue to make progress on other, longer-term rights negotiations with the Mi'kmaq.”
The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, Member of Parliament for Central Nova, extended his congratulations to the parties on the finalization of the agreement. "The clarity and consistency this Agreement brings to the consultation process will make a lasting and positive difference in the years ahead,” said Minister MacKay. “My congratulations to all of the representatives of the parties who negotiated this unique agreement for their leadership and dedication."
"This agreement-the first of its kind in Canada to include all First Nations within a province-supports a collaborative approach to consultation with the federal government and the Mi'kmaq of Nova Scotia," said Premier Darrell Dexter. "This single-window approach makes life better for Nova Scotians because it helps the province make more informed decisions."
Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq Chief's (ANSMC) Co-Chair, Chief Terrance Paul said, “Today's signing ceremony represents the commitment of three governments-Federal, Provincial, and Mi'kmaq-to make things right. We must not forget that this tri-partite relationship is unique in Canada. The entire Nation is looking upon us to show that such cohesion is possible. We must not fail.”
ANSMC Co-Chair, Chief Gerard Julian, says today's agreement demonstrates the three parties' growing government-to-government and nation-to-nation relationship. “The Crown has a legal duty to consult the Mi'kmaq when the actions of Canada or the Province might affect the constitutional rights or title of the Mi'kmaq. With today's signing, Canada and Nova Scotia create a process to carry out their duty to the Mi'kmaq of Nova Scotia."
The Agreement formalized during the signing ceremony today builds on the success of a pilot project that has been in place since 2007. The Mi'kmaq of Nova Scotia, the Province of Nova Scotia and Canada signed an Umbrella Agreement on June 7, 2002, under which they undertook as one its central elements to negotiate the terms of reference for a consultation process. After trial running a pilot agreement for several years, the parties were now ready to sign this formal agreement.
Witnessing the signing ceremony are Mi'kmaq Grand Council representatives, Grand Chief Ben Sylliboy and Grand Keptin Andrew Denny.
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