Minister Valcourt and Mohawks of Akwesasne Reach Historic Milestone in Self-Government Talks

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Minister Valcourt and Grand Chief Mike Kanentakeron Mitchell of the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne today announced the signing of Agreements-in-Principle on governance and the management of reserve land.

Ottawa, Ontario (November 4, 2013) - The Honourable Bernard Valcourt, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, and Grand Chief Mike Kanentakeron Mitchell of the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne today announced the signing of Agreements-in-Principle on governance and the management of reserve land. These significant steps toward final self-government arrangements would give the Akwesasne community greater control over the decisions that affect them in these key areas.

"Today's announcement is a great example of how dialogue and partnerships between our Government and First Nations can deliver great results," said Minister Valcourt. "Self-government creates the foundation for a renewed relationship with Canada and an improved quality of life for First Nation people by promoting self-sufficiency and unlocking economic opportunities for First Nation communities."

"After years of deliberations with the Department of Indian Affairs, the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne (MCA) has come to the conclusion that there are elements of the Indian Act that are outdated and no longer useful in serving our community," said Grand Chief Mitchell. "In signing the Agreements-in-Principle, the MCA will continue to identify more key areas of the Indian Act that may be brought before our membership, in accordance with our community referendum process, to decide if Akwesasne should continue to take over more control and authority from Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada."

There are two Agreements-in-Principle: one is concerning governance, the other concerning management of reserve lands. The goal on governance is to modernize the relationship between Canada and the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne and ensure enhanced accountability between the First Nation and its own people. The focus is also to provide the First Nation with greater control over its own affairs in the areas of elections, membership and financial administration.

The goal of the lands Agreement-in-Principle is to set out a process for the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne to take control over and pass laws relating to the day-to-day management of their reserve lands. It lays the groundwork for expanded economic development on reserve and increased business partnerships with the private sector.

Once finalized, these self-government arrangements will create new opportunities for the First Nation to build on its successes in community and economic development with other governments and the private sector. Over the past 10 years, the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne has made great strides in the area of infrastructure, program and service delivery, law enforcement, housing and economic development. This includes many businesses located on their reserve, a leading-edge water treatment facility and higher drinking water standards for its community that exceed provincial standards.

The Government of Canada has signed 20 self-government agreements with 34 Aboriginal communities. Negotiated agreements balance the rights of all concerned, promote self-sufficiency and open the door to economic opportunities for First Nation communities. Fostering good government and strong accountability in First Nation communities increases investor confidence, supports economic partnerships and can improve living conditions. 

Fact Sheet: Self-Government Negotiations between Canada and the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne

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For more information, please contact:

Minister's Office
Erica Meekes
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Bernard Valcourt
819-997-0002
Media Relations
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada
819-953-1160
 
Mohawk Council of Akwesasne
Shannon Scully Burns
Manager, Communications Unit
Mohawk Council of Akwesasne
613-575-2348 ext. 2210

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