It takes time, patience and commitment to engage and participate in building a claims process and subsequent negotiations. What are the steps needed to achieve success in our claims process? This section answers that question.
TIMELINE FOR ADVANCING THE GESPE’GEWA’GI CLAIMS PROCESS
In different ways and places, discussions about Mi’gmaq rights and title have taken place among political leaders at the three levels of government – the Mi’gmaq Nation, Canada, and the Province of Québec.
2000: Political Accord
A Political Accord was signed among the Mi’gmaq communities of Gespeg, Gesgapegiag and Listuguj to form the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi (MM). Subsequently, the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat (MMS) was set up to support the various activities of the MM. Then, the MM established a mandate to discuss issues of title and rights with the Crown and Québec in a more formal and organized way. With this political mandate in place, and with help from legal counsel, the MM started down the path toward the first phase of a working relationship with the Canada and Québec, beginning with numerous discussions.
The Chiefs of the eight communities of Gespe’gewa’gi came together to sign the Gespe’gewa’gigewei Sagamawuti Proclamation This document affirmed the Mi’gmaq position that there must be meaningful consultation, accommodation and compensation regarding the rights and title of the Mi’gmaq within our traditional territory. The proclamation renewed the determination among our leadership to work together on issues related to the territory of Gespe’gewa’gi.
2007: Nm’tginen (Statement of Claim)
The Mi’gmawei Mawiomi officially submitted Nm’tginen: Me’mnaq Ejiglgnmuetueg gis na Naqtmueg to the Governments of Canada and Québec. This document is our statement of claim to the territory of Gespe’gewa’gi. This title, translated, means “our territory: we have never given it away or left it.”
2008: Niganita’sualtas’gl Ilsutaqann
Following tripartite (three-party) discussions, the Mi’gmaq, Canada and Québec formally agreed to the document entitled Niganita’sualtas’gl Ilsutaqann (NI) (“the thinking before the decision”). This document affirmed that the three parties have agreed to enter into land claim discussions as full and equal partners with the goal to reconcile and coexist based on a relationship of peace and friendship.
STEPS FOR ADVANCING THE GESPE’GEWA’GI CLAIMS PROCESS
The Canadian Government has set out policy which outlines six steps or stages that need to be accomplished in order to to successfully negotiate a comprehensive land claim.
To view policy guidance from the Canadian Government, click here.
Stage One – PRE-NEGOTIATIONS
In this stage, a First Nation indicates to Government that it wants to enter the process.
- The Mi’gmawei Mawiomi submitted Nm’tginen: Me’mnaq Ejiglignmuetueg gis na Naqtmueg to the Governments of Canada and Québec. This statement outlines the Mi’gmaq claim to Gespe’gewa’gi, as well as the Mi’gmaq position concerning unequivocal rights and title to Gespe’gewa’gi.
Stage Two – PRE-FRAMEWORK AGREEMENT
In this stage, the parties prepare for negotiations.
- The Mi’gmawei Mawiomi has assembled an official negotiating team, the Mgnigng (Circle of Officials).
- The Mi’gmaq, Canada, and Québec have worked out and signed an official agreement, Niganita’suatas’gl Ilsutaqaan (NI), which outlines the three parties’ intent to work together and prepare for negotiations.
Stage Three – FRAMEWORK AGREEMENT
In this stage, the parties (who have already agreed to talk formally) develop a Framework Agreement (FA). The FA will identify the areas of common interest that will eventually be negotiated in the claims process.
- This is where we are today. The Mi’gmaq process has evolved into discussions that will eventually lead into a final FA with the Crown and Québec.
- The Mi’gmaq, Canada and Québec are presently at this stage. A draft of the Framework Agreement is done. We are ready to ask the MM Leadership and the governments of Canada and Québec for their approvals.
- A series of Information Sessions have been held to ensure that our communities are informed and involved in the development of the Framework Agreement. One such session happened at the MMS Annual General Meeting in the summer of 2011.
Stage Four – AGREEMENT-IN-PRINCIPLE
The parties will formalize what was agreed upon in the previous stage (Framework Agreement). Discussions will focus on developing an implementation plan for the Agreement-in-Principle.
Stage Five – FINAL AGREEMENT
The parties will talk and then formalize a Final Agreement. As well, during this stage, the parties will agree to an implementation plan.
Stage Six – TREATY STAGE
In the final stage, the parties agree to work together to implement the treaty in accordance with their agreed upon plan.
- This step is not mandatory.
- As of this time, the Gespe’gewa’gi claims process and negotiations is not intended to result in any treaty-making.
There are six separate steps or stages that the three negotiating parties ~ Mi’gmaq, Canada, and Québec ~ must agree to follow in “peace and friendship.”
In concrete terms, our aim is that community Information Sessions are explaining the claims process and giving our members a chance to ask questions. With help from our communities, we have identified the topics for the Framework Agreement among the Mi’gmaq, Canada and Québec.
The actions of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi leadership have been in keeping with the steps identified in Canadian Land Claim Policy guidance.
At the same time, the leadership has provided direction to ensure that the negotiations process remains a unique reflection of Mi’gmaq philosophy and our worldview of Gespe’gewa’gi.
Read the Canadian Government’s policy guidance about Aboriginal Rights, 1995Approach to Implementation of the Inherent Right and the Negotiation of Aboriginal Self-Government.
Read the agreement Niganita’suatas’ql Ilsutaqaan (NI)