Harper announces status agreement for Mi'kmaq
Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a long-awaited announcement Friday on Newfoundland's west coast about an agreement to allow some Mi'kmaq in the province to get status under the Indian Act.
Under the agreement, 7,800 members of the Federation of Newfoundland Indians would be eligible for federal programs and services under the Indian Act without having to move to a reserve.
Ina news release, Harper said the agreement would resolve an issue "that has been neglected since Newfoundland joined Confederation 58 years ago."
He said the agreement still had to be ratified by a majority of the federation's members.
The federation represents nine band councils in the western and central regions of the island of Newfoundland.
Len Muise, a member of the St. George's Indian Band council, said Thursdaythe announcement would bea remarkable day, because the federation and the nine bands have been fighting for recognition since the early 1970s.
However, the idea of a landless band agreement doesn't sit well with Bert Alexander, the chief of the Ktaqamkuk Mi'kmaq Alliance. The group represents more than 7,000 Mi'kmaq around the province.
Alexander said the Mi'kmaqwho will be included as a landless band will have fewer benefits then those who live on the existing Conne River reserve on the south coast of the province.
"Anything less than equality with Conne River is not acceptable to the 7,600 members of the Ktaqamkuk Mi'kmaq Alliance," he said.