This section takes us on a journey to explore the basis of our claim. We will learn how we have identified our territory through studies, maps, and testimonies of our Elders. We will learn more about our rights and title to Gespe’gewa’gi, our responsibilities to our territory, and how our rights and title have been denied. Finally, we will envision our future ~ for ourselves, our families, and the generations ahead.
Below is a summary of each stop on our journey. Click on the title to get to more details.
SPIRIT OF THE CLAIM
The Mi’gmaq have always lived on, used and occupied the districts of Mi’gma’gi. Our statement of claim recognizes the idea of nm’tginen – me’mnaq ejiglignmuetueg gis na naqtmueg, which translated means “our territory: we have never given it away or left it.“ This is the guiding spirit of our claim.
The assertion of Mi’gmaq rights, title and interests is based on our Gespe’gewa’gi Mi’gmaq Nation’s existing relationship with the territory, which has changed and evolved over thousands of years.
RIGHTS AND TITLE
Mi’gmaq Perspective of Rights and Title
Our Aboriginal title and inherent rights to the land, along with our right to self-government, come from our relationship with Creation. We have inherent (pre-existing) rights and title to our territory.
The Mi’gmaq were active participants in the Peace and Friendship Treaty era when the treaties were signed with British officials between 1725 and 1779. Over the years, there were a number of encounters, agreements and treaties which built upon this relationship between the Mi’gmaq and the Crown.
The Gespe’gewa’gi Mi’gmaq are part of the Covenant Chain of Peace and Friendship Treaties. As signatories to those Peace and Friendship Treaties, our position is that we have never abrogated, surrendered, nor ceded our title to our lands and resources.
Legal Protection of our Rights and Title
Governments of Canada and Québec
Today, the governments of Canada and Québec are engaged in a reconciliatory process with the Gespe’gewa’gi Mi’gmaq.
Central to the Mi’gmaq worldview is the idea that the world is alive. By living with the four elements of Creation (land, water, air and sky), the Mi’gmaq have always accepted responsibilities to the territory and to each other. In using all of the resources of the territory ~ plants, animals, water, and wind ~ our families took care of the land, keeping in mind the generations ahead.
Since the first Europeans approached the shores of Gespe’gewa’gi, there have been infringements upon the land, values and beliefs of the Mi’gmaq Nation.
European philosophy, which claims to hold sovereignty over lands that have not been surrendered, ceded or lost to the Crown, continues today, as in the past, to direct government policies and industry actions.
Over the years, Mi’gmaq lands and resources have been exploited. The Mi’gmaq Nation’s ability to exercise self-determination within our territory has been restricted by government legislation, regulations, and policies that have supported and tolerated encroachment on our lands and resources.
Today, the Gespe’gewa’gi Mi’gmaq are working together to claim lands and resources that have never been ceded nor surrendered to the Crown. As part of the claims process, the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi submitted a claim map
to the Governments of Canada and Québec.
The map sets out the boundaries of the Seventh District of the Mi’gmaq Nation. This claim map does not limit the Aboriginal rights, land title, or treaty rights of the Gespe’gewa’gi Mi’gmaq only to this area.
The claim map is part of the statement to government that we have an un-ceded right to live and make a prosperous living on this territory.
“We have always lived in this territory and we will always be part of this land,” say many Mi’gmaq Elders. Over the years, in different ways, we have continued to exercise our rights, title, and responsibilities to our territory, which we call Nm’tginen.
Today, we continue to practice and maintain respect for our language, oral traditions, cultural teachings, and extended family systems. The relationship with the territory, which has evolved over thousands of years, will continue to guide the well-being of the Mi’gmaq Nation ~ socially, politically, spiritually and economically.
We envision a future for our people that will protect the instructions passed along to us from our Elders, in our language, and within the Covenant Chain of Peace and Friendship Treaties that we mutually agreed to with the Crown so many years ago.