Fairness for Indigenous Peoples in Nova Scotia

News release

June 21, 2024 — We’koqma’q, Nova Scotia — We’koqma’q L'nue'kati, Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey, and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

When Indigenous Peoples succeed, Canada succeeds. A fairer future for every generation of Indigenous Peoples includes better access to education, and good-paying jobs. With renewed Nation-to-Nation, Government-to-Government, and Inuit-Crown relationships, we are creating thousands of jobs, generating economic opportunity for First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities, and closing the education infrastructure gaps which have affected Indigenous communities for far too long.

Today, on National Indigenous Peoples Day, we celebrate the rich histories, heritage, and strength of First Nations, Inuit and Métis across Canada. Together, we reaffirm our partnership in working towards a better future.

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, alongside Chief Leroy Denny of Eskasoni First Nation and Chair of Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey, Blaire Gould, Executive Director of Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey, and John Leonard Bernard, Interim Chief of the We’koqma’q L'nue'kati, today welcomed an important milestone in delivering agreements that address past injustices, improve access to education, close infrastructure gaps, and deliver fairness for Indigenous Peoples in Nova Scotia.

This includes the delivery of:

  • more than $16 million per year in increased funding to Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey to maintain, repair, and replace their existing education infrastructure, as well as bolster governance functions to support their education system. This funding will help ensure communities, including approximately 3,000 students, have the resources they need to succeed while remaining connected to Mi’kmaw culture and language. It will support improved quality of life, reduce poverty, and build a more resilient and fair local economy.
  • a $125 million proposed settlement agreement with the We’koqma’q L'nue'kati to resolve their specific claim regarding the improper sale of reserve land in 1862. Following the sale of this land, with a lake on one side of reserve lands and a mountain on the other, the community lost the opportunity to expand and benefit economically from the use of their land. The new proposed agreement is the result of many years of negotiations with the First Nation. It will need to be voted upon by its members before it can be finalized.

We are advancing reconciliation with concrete action. With continued collaboration with Indigenous partners across the country, we will achieve the objectives set out in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and contribute to the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act and Action Plan.

As we celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day today, we reflect on the experiences and achievements of First Nations, Inuit and Métis across the country, celebrate their cultures and diversity, and recommit to walking the path of reconciliation together. By confronting our past, addressing its ongoing impacts on Indigenous Peoples, and supporting their healing journey, we can build a better, fairer future for everyone in Canada.

Quotes

“Our government is a partner on the shared path toward meaningful reconciliation. On this National Indigenous Peoples Day, I look forward to working with Indigenous partners across the country to make meaningful progress on the issues that matter most to them – and all Canadians. Together, let’s build a better, fairer Canada for everyone.”

The Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau,
Prime Minister of Canada

“As we celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day, we reaffirm our commitment to understanding and acknowledging our past and its ongoing impacts, a critical step toward healing on the path of reconciliation. Acknowledging the difficult parts of our history is central to redefining our relationships with Indigenous Peoples and creating meaningful change today to last into the future. We will continue to rebuild nation-to-nation relationships with Indigenous communities in Nova Scotia, together.”

The Hon. Gary Anandasangaree,
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations

“Investing in education is investing in the present and future. With better education, Mi’kmaw youth are better able to understand their opportunities and to truly walk a path of self-determination. This is important not just to an individual, but rather a family, a community, and most importantly, a nation.”

Blaire Gould,
Executive Director, Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey

“We are thrilled to make this announcement that enables communities and the organization to do more. We have walked through this process with a lot of optimism and look forward to the positive changes this allows communities to make. We thank our contributors and partners in this work from First Nations and the federal government. While it is an important and significant first step, we know that there is a lot of work to be done.”

Chief Leroy Denny,
Eskasoni First Nation and Chair, Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey

“The initialling of the specific land claim on National Indigenous Peoples Day is a momentous occasion for the community of We’koqma’q. This resolution holds great significance and marks a crucial step towards reconciliation for Indigenous Peoples. By addressing historical injustices, this settlement represents a cornerstone that will empower our community socially, economically and culturally. We extend our utmost appreciation to all parties involved in the journey towards a successful resolution that affirms a promising future for generations to come.”

John Leonard Bernard,
Interim Chief, We’koqma’q L’nue’kati

Quick facts

  • Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey serves 12 out of the 13 Mi’kmaq communities within Mi’kma’ki territory, in Nova Scotia.

  • The funding provided to Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey is the result of new fiscal policy approaches applied to education sectoral self-governments under Canada’s collaborative self-government fiscal policy, which was co-developed with First Nations partners and implemented in 2019 to better reflect the costs of self-government.

  • Education sectoral self-government agreements provide Indigenous governments with the ability to establish an education system that addresses the needs of students in participating communities.

  • We’koqma’q L’nue’kati (We’koqma’q First Nation) is a small Mi’kmaw Community located in Whycocomagh, Nova Scotia of approximately 1,100 members. The community is bordered by Bras D’Or Lake and a mountainous range known as Skye Mountain.

  • Specific claims address past wrongs against First Nations. These claims, made by First Nations against the Government of Canada, relate to the administration of land and other First Nation assets and to the fulfilment of historical treaties and other agreements.

  • The date of the vote by members of the We’koqma’q L'nue'kati nation on the proposed settlement agreement has not yet been determined by the First Nation.

  • From January 1, 2016, to May 31, 2024, 299 claims have been resolved by Canada for close to $11.4 billion in compensation. Since the launch of the Specific Claims Program in 1973 to May 31, 2024, 704 claims totalling $15.2 billion in compensation have been settled through negotiations.

  • On June 21, for National Indigenous Peoples Day, Canadians come together to recognize and celebrate the history, heritage, resilience, and diversity of First Nations, Inuit and Métis across the country. The day was created in 1996 as National Aboriginal Day and later renamed National Indigenous Peoples Day.

Associated links

Contacts

For more information, media may contact:

Storm Gould
We’koqma’q
902-295-7276
stormgould@waycobah.ca

Shara Johnson
Communications Coordinator
Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey
shara@kinu.ca

Matthieu Perrotin
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Gary Anandasangaree
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations
matthieu.perrotin@rcaanc-cirnac.gc.ca

Media Relations
Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada
819-934-2302
RCAANC.media.CIRNAC@sac-isc.gc.ca

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