Eel River Bar First Nation, New Brunswick
September 9, 2011
Check against delivery
Good morning/afternoon, Elders, Premier Alward, Chiefs, honoured guests. I would like to acknowledge my colleague and local Member of Parliament Bernard Valcourt.
I am delighted to be participating in this ceremony to mark the signing of the Mi’gmag Wolastoqiyik [Wool-ahs’took-g’weeg] / New Brunswick / Canada Umbrella Agreement. It is indeed a privilege for me to be here in Eel River Bar First Nation with so many of you who helped bring about the historic step we take together today.
I am well aware of the hard work and good faith you have invested over the past few years in exploratory discussions that helped develop a common vision for this tripartite process.
The negotiation of the Umbrella Agreement was a direct result of your commitment, painstaking thoroughness and mutually respectful exchange. I would like to extend my personal thanks to the First Nations and provincial and federal representatives who made today’s signing ceremony possible.
This Umbrella Agreement is a positive first step in the negotiations process. Our government is committed to working together with the Province and the Mi’gmag and Wolastoqiyik [Wool-ahs’took-g’weeg] of New Brunswick to identify key priority issues in order to reach a Framework Agreement on Aboriginal and treaty rights and self-government.
There are two distinct advantages we all derive from the Umbrella Agreement to which we add our signatures today.
First and foremost, the Agreement renews and strengthens the partnership among the three Parties. As we all know, partnerships and cooperation lead to great accomplishments. Our renewed and reinvigorated relationship therefore holds great promise.
In addition, the Agreement sets out an effective and orderly process to help guide future negotiations.
I am confident that through the Umbrella Agreement’s results-oriented process, we can achieve the progress we all want to see—building strongly toward the long-term goal of resolving outstanding Aboriginal and treaty rights issues and improving the quality of life for First Nations in New Brunswick.
These Agreements we forge as partners are important parts of our history and help shape Canada’s relationship with First Nations.
The spirit of mutual respect, support and understanding that has underpinned these negotiations will help us realize the best possible results from the work pursued under the Umbrella Agreement.
The good will and optimism that we all bring to the work ahead will reinforce the Agreement’s solid foundation for resolving our shared issues. This is work we can undertake with pride, confidence and hope for a better future for the First Nation people of this province.