Prior to and during 2007, many intergovernmental meetings were held among officials from the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi, the Government of Québec and the Government of Canada. These meetings paved the way for the preparation of Nm’tginen, our Statement of Claim.
AGREEMENTS WITH OTHER INDIGENOUS NATIONS
- “Gaqtugwawei (Thunder), Galipuei (Caribou), Wowgwisewei (Fox), and the Dartmouth, York, and Saint John Rivers (gigjiw Gespe’g etegl) all flow in the eastern and northeastern direction. The Waqamatgug (Bonaventure), Gesgapegia’jg (Cascapedia), Tlapataqanji’jg (Nouvelle) and the Winpegijuig (Nipisquit) flow west into the Mawi Paqtapegigtug (Baie des Chaleurs). The Getnig (Restigouche) allows entrance into the Appalachian Plateau, flowing westward towards the Walustugewei Sipu (Saint John River) in Maliseet territory.
- As well, its main tributaries continue to be known by their Mi’gmaq names: the Matapegiag (Matapedia), Apse’tgwejg (Upsalquitch), Patapegiag (Patapedia) and Metamgetjuig (Kedgwick).”
By using the river systems and canoe routes along the shores as well as in the coastal areas, our ancestors traveled inland into the territory in order to hunt, fish, trap, and gather resources and materials so that they could achieve ta’n teliangweiatulti’gw (“how to best take care of each other”).
Our ancestors named and used the medicines, plants, foods, and animals that they found in the territory.
- Mi’gmaq place names of rivers, gathering sites, plants and animals affirm both the use and occupation of our territory.
- Our language and oral traditions have allowed us to pass our knowledge of our exclusive occupation of the territory on from one generation to the next over thousands of years.
USING THE RESOURCES OF GESPE’GEWA’GI
We have always used our territory, including the rivers and tributaries. The rivers are a basis for Mi’gmaq livelihood. And, the rivers help families stay connected. An Elder from Gesgapegiag tells us:
- “Even though our kids go to university, they come home to guide, they make their livingfrom the sipu (meaning river), like my father, my grandfather, as well as my wife’s family. It is the source of our “mimajuaqan”, our livelihood,. The sipu keeps our family connected and who we are as Mi’gmaq. “Me’ newte’ wejmimajultieg na’te’l”, means “we have always used the river system as the basis of our livelihood.”
He went on to emphasize his family’s long-time connection with the fishery:
- “Gis sa’q wesg’tieg plamuei, pana nige’ tluenej mimajuaqan weja’tueg gis sa’q plamuei, muta ne’gaw st’ge nmijgamijaq, nte’pitem ujja, aq ni’n nujjaq, etliws’gtipnig Gesgapegiag aq Waqam’tgug, etlia’lutasultipnig, na tluenej ap ugmimajuaqannmuow weja’tu’tij na’te’l, plumawitug.”
- “Since time immemorial, we have made a living from the fishery, just like my grandfather, my wife’s father, and my father. We made a living from fishing in Gesgapegiag and at Waqam’tgug they ‘guided’ and made their living from the ‘fishery’.”
- “Ap na na’te’l matnaggewaqan wenaqieig, aq tal gisiassutew wen samuqwan, tal gisiassutew wen river bed, tal gis tliatew na? Ni’n ne’gaw pugwelg ta’n goqwei getlams’tm, mu wen assutmug samuqwan. Aq ninen mu telua’tiweg’p, ni’n assutm mussewji’j, ms’t wen wetapesij na sipu.”
- ”When these [fishing] conflicts arise, often it is about who can “own” the waters. How can anybody own the ‘river bed’, how can that happen? I believe many things in my life, one of them is, no one owns the water. We don’t say ‘I own a piece of the river’, when everyone is supposed to benefit from the river system.”