HALIFAX – New provincial funding will enhance consultations with the aboriginal community and help ensure the Mi'kmaq play a more active role in economic development in Nova Scotia, Premier Darrell Dexter announced Friday.
This support will also help the Assembly of Mi'kmaq Chiefs work with their communities to identify priorities for negotiations, and to determine a process to ratify any future agreements. Consultation and negotiation are key to ensuring Mi'kmaq rights are respected and to support Mi'kmaq economic development, which contributes to the prosperity of the entire province.
"This funding will help ensure that Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq can engage communities on negotiations and meaningfully participate in consultation, while supporting the province's commitment to work with the Mi'kmaq of Nova Scotia," said Premier Dexter, who is also Minister of Aboriginal Affairs.
"We want to ensure that we have community involvement in this important work and that the Mi'kmaq of Nova Scotia are able to decide, for themselves, how we will move forward in the future," said Chief Terrrance Paul, co-chair of the assembly.
The province is contributing $500,000 annually for four years to support consultation. The province has a legal duty to consult with the Mi'kmaq on any decision or activity that may impact their rights, including Crown land leasing, road and bridge construction, energy project approval and new legislation or policy. Nova Scotia is a Canadian leader in aboriginal consultation, making the province an attractive destination for potential projects and growth with businesses that recognize the importance of it.
An additional $500,000 a year for two years will support the efforts of the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq Chiefs to increase communication with communities and prepare for potential future agreements for treaty and aboriginal rights and title. The funding will help the assembly work with its communities over the next two years to identify negotiation priorities and set a process to identify the beneficiaries.
"The Mi'kmaq play an important role in the cultural, economic and social well-being of our province," said Premier Dexter. "I sincerely value our positive working relationship and the important contributions of Mi'kmaq leadership and communities across the province."