Mi'kmaq chiefs sign 'historic' deal with Kameron Coal over Donkin mine

The Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq Chiefs has signed what's being called a "historic" deal with the owner of the Donkin mine for a royalty on coal production.

Money from royalty deal will be shared with Mi'kmaq across the province, chief says

The owner of the Donkin mine recognizes Mi'kmaq treaty rights, says Membertou First Nation Chief Terry Paul. (CBC)

The Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq Chiefs has signed what's being called a "historic" deal with the owner of the Donkin mine for a royalty on coal production.

The amount of the royalty from Kameron Coal has not been disclosed, but an assembly co-chair, Chief Terry Paul of Membertou First Nation, says the money will be shared by all Mi'kmaq people in Nova Scotia.

The agreement will give Mi'kmaq communities access to private capital, which Paul said is sorely needed in many communities.

"It's the beginning of raising our own source of revenues," he told CBC News. 

Recognition of rights

"We wanted to make sure that there was recognition that we are also the land and the resource owners of this province."

Kameron Coal participated in discussions with the chiefs' group and agreed the Mi'kmaq should get a share of "what's being extracted out of our land," Paul said.

The Supreme Court of Canada has upheld the treaty rights of the Mi'kmaq and other Indigenous people over land and natural resources.

That means companies interested in exploiting natural resources in Nova Scotia "automatically" must consult with the Mi'kmaq, the chief said.

Company 'open' to negotiation

"I'm quite pleased that [Kameron] is very open to that," he said. "When the companies do sit down and negotiate with us, they'll find that we're pretty open and we're not that difficult to have discussions with."

The royalties will administered by the chiefs' assembly.

The Donkin mine is not yet open and no date has been made public to indicate when it might begin production.

With files from Gary Mansfield