Mi'kmaq leaders on P.E.I. introduce new rights based initiative
'This is an expression of our capacity'
At their first nationhood gathering Saturday in Charlottetown, Mi'kmaq leaders introduced L'Nuey, a new rights based initiative that will focus on protecting and preserving the constitutionally entrenched rights of the Mi'kmaq people on P.E.I.
The initiative will allow the Mi'kmaq to enter into substantial negotiations with all parties of government while giving a voice to the community, said Chief Junior Gould with the Abegweit First Nation.
Chief Darlene Bernard of Lennox Island First Nation said it will also help as the Mi'kmaq begin to work through and negotiate the Framework Agreement, signed by the Abegweit and Lennox Island First Nations with the federal and provincial government in early 2019.
The agreement aims to promote negotiation toward a resolution of issues involving Mi'kmaq rights.
"That means the federal government and provincial government will come to a table and we will start having those discussions and deliberations surrounding our rights, and how do we implement them fairly and how do the Mi'kmaq get to have a piece of the pie," said Bernard.
"We've never had our fair share of piece of the pie. And I think that when we do we will take that and multiply it. And I always say when the First Nations in a province are doing well, the province will do well," she said.
The initiative is emblematic of the strength of the Mi'kmaq, said Gould.
"It's a representation of the capacity that we have internally, the ability to understand negotiations and the ability to move forward in a positive manner and enter into multiple agreements and ideas of partnerships," he said.
Members of both the Lennox Island and Abegweit First Nation will be on the board of the L'Nuey initiative, but the focus will be on ensuring the concerns of the community are heard, said Bernard.
Ensure voices heard
"We've prioritized communications as being one of the bigger areas that we have to work on to make sure that our people know where we're going and come along with us as we move forward into a new day," she said.
The focus on grassroots communication from the community is something echoed by Gould.
"We're not to make any decision unless we talk to our people. I don't claim to represent anybody but, I'm an elected official that represents a people with a voice and we're trying to ensure that their voices are heard," he said.
Gould said it's an expression of the strength of the Mi'kmaq communities.
"This is an expression of our capacity. Our internal capacity has grown over the years and we the Mi'kmaq have the internal capacity to represent ourselves. Our self-determination, our self governance is within. It's homegrown. It's from our communities and we're going to expand it," he said.
"This is a showcase of what we can do for the people by the people and it's self-determination through self governance," he said.