News release

Premier, Cabinet Meet with Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq Chiefs

The Nova Scotia government and the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq Chiefs have achieved an historic milestone. For the first time in the province's history, cabinet and the 13 chiefs sat down together to discuss matters of mutual concern.

The meeting was held at the Eskasoni Fish and Wildlife Commission building at Eskasoni First Nation, the largest Mi'kmaq reserve in Canada.

"Today's meeting marks the beginning of a new era in relations between the provincial government and the Mi'kmaq leadership," said Premier Rodney MacDonald. "It represents an opportunity to map out a way for the future and allows us to reaffirm our commitment to work together on issues that benefit everyone involved."
"If today, by renewing this face-to-face dialogue, we are both rekindling the wisdom of our ancestors, then it must be said that we are truly doing a great thing as leaders of our people," said Chief Terrance J. Paul of Membertou First Nation and co-chair of the Assembly.

Chief Lawrence Paul of Millbrook First Nation and co-chair of the Assembly said, "The fact that we are meeting today -- the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq Chiefs and the provincial cabinet -- is proof that we are taking positive steps toward working together as governments."

Both sides discussed a formal agenda about the progress and challenges in consultation, social and economic matters and aboriginal and treaty rights negotiations. They agreed to meet on an annual basis to discuss matters of mutual concern.

After the meeting, the Cape Breton chiefs signed an agreement to have continued involvement in the Sydney Tar Ponds cleanup through an aboriginal set-aside initiated by the provincial government last year.

Next week, Premier MacDonald will officiate at the annual Treaty Day ceremony in Halifax, where a number of awards will be presented to Mi'kmaq elders and youths for outstanding community service and academic achievements.

FOR BROADCAST USE:

The Nova Scotia government and the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq Chiefs have achieved an historic milestone. For the first time in the province's history, the provincial cabinet and the 13 chiefs sat down together to discuss matters of mutual concern.

The meeting was held at Eskasoni First Nation, the largest Mi'kmaq reserve in Canada.

Premier MacDonald said the meeting marked a new era in relations between the province's first residents and the provincial government.

After the meeting, the five Cape Breton chiefs signed an agreement to play a continuing role in the cleanup of the Sydney tar ponds.

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Media Contacts:

John Soosaar
Aboriginal Affairs 902-424-7409 E-mail:
Jacqueline Van Amburg
Aboriginal Affairs 902-424-2339 E-mail:
George Paul
Mi'kmaq Rights Initiative 902-843-3880