What does KMKNO do and who makes decisions for KMKNO?
KMKNO heads up the consultation and negotiations process for the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia. Although similar in goals, the consultation and negotiation processes are very different. Consultation is about short-term issues, and negotiation is more about long-term decisions. KMKNO has a Lead Negotiator, legal advisors, as well as a senior Mi’kmaq Advisor that make up the Negotiations team. Our Consultation team has a Lead, as well as two researchers. Other staff members of KMKNO (approximately 18 people) undertake research in archaeology, benefits, citizenship, energy, fisheries, governance, and lands, supporting both the consultation and negotiation process. We receive direction for our consultation and negotiation processes from our Board of Directors. Currently the Board for KMKNO is made up of twelve Chiefs, with the AFN Vice-Chief for Nova Scotia, Mi’kmaq Grand Council members – the Grand Chief, Kji-Keptin and, two District Chiefs, who act as ex-officio members. Any major decisions will have to be voted on by the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia.
What is the Made-In-Nova Scotia Process?
The Framework Agreement, also known as the Made-In-Nova Scotia Process, was signed in 2007 by the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs and outlines the entire negotiations process –such as, the types of things that will be negotiated, what we hope to achieve, procedures for negotiations and timelines. This process is focused on how the Rights of the Mi’kmaq, both Aboriginal and Treaty Rights, will be properly implemented to ensure that every Mi’kmaq person can exercise those rights free from the threat of being charged, free from the threat of having gear and equipment seized, and free from the threat of being harassed. It is essential that Aboriginal Rights and Title are protected, so when developing the Framework Agreement and throughout negotiations, the Assembly ensured this protection through legal clauses.
Why is this process just for Nova Scotia and not all of Mi’kma’ki?
We all want to see that the Mi’kmaq Nation is benefitting equally from the negotiations process, no matter where they are located. We may be in different places, but our concerns are very similar. KMKNO works with the teams in New Brunswick, PEI and Quebec and we each continue to update one other on what is happening at our respective tables. In Nova Scotia, we have shared our agreements with the other provinces, which helped them to frame their agreements.
Why do negotiations include the Province when Treaties were signed with the Crown?
When the Mi’kmaq made the historic Treaties there was only the British Crown to sign with. When the Canadian Constitution was signed in 1867, Canada took over Crown responsibilities and divided them into Section 91 (Federal) and Section 92 (Provincial). Both parties ended up receiving equal power, only with different jurisdictions. If we did not include both levels of government in our agreements, we would not have all the powers of the Crown. Each level of government can only make arrangements on items that are in their jurisdiction and authority.
We know our Treaties are there, what do we need to implement?
There are 15,000 Mi’kmaq living in Nova Scotia, and a limited amount of resources (moose, lobster, eel, salmon, and trees, etc). The rights of the Mi’kmaq are not only about how much can be harvested, but also how the Mi’kmaq Nation, can ensure that these resources are protected for future generations. Implementation is not just about what we can access today, it’s also about co-management and how the Mi’kmaq can be monitors of the resources -now and for future generations. This is why it is so important that the Mi’kmaq work together to create rules, that everyone can agree to and accept, on how the way our rights will be implemented.
Will this process result in a modern day Treaty?
No. The process in the Maritimes is very different than it is in other parts of Canada. Unlike some other places, the Mi’kmaq have existing Treaties that are recognized by Section 35 of the Constitution. There is no need to create new Treaties – the rights of the Mi’kmaq already exist. We are working on implementing those existing rights.
Who will benefit from the Treaties?
The beneficiaries of the Treaties are the Mi’kmaq. However, the bigger question, ‘who is a Mi’kmaw’? We have people in our own communities, in our own families who are not recognized under the Indian Act as having status – but to us, they are Mi’kmaw. Through our Citizenship Department we have had, and will continue to have discussions with Elders, Youth, Grand Council and community members to find out, who our citizens are and who should benefit from our Treaties.
When KMKNO comes holds community sessions, are they considered consultation?
Community sessions are only to inform community members about the process and the work that we do. What community members say to the negotiations team is protected, confidential and privileged information. It is important that we can have a free exchange of ideas with community members and that they know they are protected under our Framework Agreement.
Is this a comprehensive lands claim?
The Federal Government has two types of claims departments – specific and comprehensive. The fact that we do not receiving loan funding, and that we are working on agreements that would recognize and implement historic treaties, are both contrary to the current comprehensive claims policy and mandate, so we are not involved with comprehensive land claims. At our table, the federal team will be seeking a specific mandate to meet expectations – outside of the current policy. When it was brought to our attention that we were listed on websites as being under this category, we discussed with the governments that their website content was inaccurate – the websites have since been updated.
What is the community contribution to the Made-In-NS Process?
This is a community driven process and community involvement is very important. We have made efforts to have community feedback and engagement since the process began. We have hosted a number of community sessions as well as our office sends out press releases, newsletters and other information to our email database, puts articles in the Mi’kmaq Maliseet Nations News, social media, on our website and has contributed to community newsletters. The Negotiation team feels very strongly that everyone has something to contribute; After all, every Mi’kmaq person has their own views of how our rights should be protected. We encourage people to get involved in the discussions!
Why is information listed as “confidential”?
All parties to the Framework Agreement, in s.47, understand the heightened need to provide information, positions and proposals to the Mi’kmaq community. Therefore, information can be shared with the Mi’kmaq community – but not the general non-Native community. These protections are for the Mi’kmaq so that the government does not use any of the negotiations against us in court, or as a method of consultation. Mi’kmaq community members actually have a greater access to information than anyone else.
After you finish your negotiations what will we vote on?
This is yet to be determined. This is something that will have to be decided by the Mi’kmaq people. There will be many discussions with community members on how they would like to see things in the future and how we should be implementing our rights – now and for seven generations.
I don’t hunt or fish so why should I care about the negotiations?
Even if you are not a hunter, fisher, or harvester, how the resources are managed is still important to everyone. Our ancestors accepted the duty to ensure the survival of our natural resources for future generations – this is something we all agree that we must continue. What is decided today in these negotiations will be the legacy that we leave for our children and our children’s children.
What’s does the future hold for the Made-in-Nova Scotia Process?
This is the first time that the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia and the Federal and Provincial governments have had meaningful conversation on such a wide array of social, economic, cultural and governance issues. The Made-in-Nova Scotia Process has contributed greatly to creating a stable and respectful relationship on Rights matters among the parties. While differences remain, respect has grown, trust is on the rise and the parties are engaged in meaningful and constructive dialogue on important issues. KMKNO will continue to work with the Mi’kmaq people to get their input on important topics, as we have done in the past with moose and lands, for example. The negotiations team will continue to explore interim/incremental arrangements, with particular emphasis in items of importance to the people, such as the environment, wildlife, lands, and governance.
When will we see Future Agreements?
February 2014 marked the seven year anniversary of the Framework Agreement. The Agreement had set out that the parties will use best efforts to reach a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) within six years of signing the agreement, and an Accord to follow within three years of the approved MOU. The initial timelines were ambitious and it is now clear that reaching a MOU or an Accord will take much longer. Complex negotiations require respect, patience, perspective and input from the community. As we know, our Treaties have been around for over 200 years and decisions about our rights should not, and will not happen overnight.
How can I get my opinions to your organization?
Our team always welcomes conversations with community members. Getting your input is important to our work. We encourage community members to call us, email us, send letters, message us on social media, and/or come to a future community meeting to give us your opinions and thoughts.