News Release Archive

Nova Scotia First Nations and the provincial and federal
governments today signed a political accord reconfirming their
commitment to addressing issues of mutual concern.

Premier John Savage, minister responsible for aboriginal affairs,
Jane Stewart, federal minister of Indian Affairs and Northern
Development, and the 13 chiefs from the Mi'kmaq of Nova Scotia
were in Halifax to sign the Mi'kmaq-Nova Scotia-Canada Tripartite
Forum Memorandum of Understanding.

"I am pleased that the federal government and the Mi'kmaq Nation
along with the province of Nova Scotia will be publicly and
proudly proclaiming our collective commitment to the building of
a new relationship today with the signing of a Mi'kmaq-Nova
Scotia-Canada Tripartite Agreement," said Premier Savage.

"The government of Nova Scotia is committed to working in
partnership with the Mi'kmaq Nation and the federal government in
advancing the self-government process."

Said Ms. Stewart: "This forum offers the opportunity for us as
partners to strengthen our relationship. Partnership is about
people, and by working together in a spirit of respect and
dignity, we can better understand each other and achieve

"I look forward to discussing issues of mutual concern, including
self-government, economic development and social services, as
well as the valuable guidance on these issues and others in the
report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples."

The forum will build on the success of a previous agreement,
which developed projects in justice diversion, a court workers
program, court translation services, justice liaison,
penitentiary services support, band bylaw development and the
establishment of a Mi'kmaq Justice Institute.

"The Mi'kmaq chiefs have waited patiently for two years for this
process to be re-established," said Joe B. Marshall, president of
the Union of Nova Scotia Indians. "There is no doubt that the
signing of the Tripartite Forum agreement is a celebrative
occasion in Mi'kma'ki. The sooner that this event is completed,
the sooner we can all get down to prioritizing an agenda for

"We all realize that the goal of this process is Mi'kmaw
self-government and issues which thread through all discussions
are the issues of Mi'kmaw jurisdiction and self-determination.
These two issues will temper all discussions and negotiations as
the forum continues its restructuring process."

Mr. Marshall said that as issues are prioritized, subcommittees
will be selected to develop positions for the forum to negotiate.

Added Donald M. Julien, executive director of the Confederacy of
Mainland Micmacs: "It is our hope that this forum will create a
formal, constructive negotiating process for the resolution of
the many outstanding jurisdictional issues between us, avoiding
the stalemates and conflicts of the past."

Mr. Julien said that while the agenda for the forum has yet to be
complete, the Mi'kmaq believe that topics such as self-government
and treaties, economic development, natural resources, education,
social programs, health and justice should all be specific areas
of concern.

"As well, the recently released report by the Royal Commission on
Aboriginal Peoples will be placed within the context of the
community needs of the Mi'kmaq of Nova Scotia," he said. "We
believe that through this forum all three parties can create a
new climate for the understanding of First Nation issues and a
mutual respect for the inherent right of First Nations across
Canada to sit with the federal and provincial Crowns on a nation-to-nation basis."


Contact: Nancy Cowie
         Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development
         Atlantic Region

         David Harrigan
         Premier's Office, Province of Nova Scotia

         Rosalee Francis
         Union of Nova Scotia Indians

         Eric Zscheile
         Confederacy of Mainland Micmacs

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trp                    July 2, 1997 - 12:10 p.m.