By: Crystal Dorey, Communications Officer for KMKNO
The Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs recognize and respect those who have joined the important grassroots Idle No More movement. By taking a stance and raising concerns on how the Jobs and Growth Act, 2012 (formerly Bill C-45) will impact our collective future, the Aboriginal voice across Canada has become stronger.
Many of the Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs have stood alongside of community members in the Idle No More demonstrations, information sessions, video conferences and marches that have happened across Mi’kma’ki and on Parliament Hill. The Assembly themselves, have held numerous meetings, sent representatives to meet with Chief Theresa Spence, and are committed to working at a Nation to Nation level, to ensure that our Treaty Rights, lands, waters and environment are protected for future generations.
Bill C-45 is the Bill that was introduced by the Federal government on October 18, 2012. It is an omnibus budget bill that included legislative changes in 64 acts or regulations. Despite being rushed through the system and without consultation with Aboriginal peoples in Canada, the Bill was passed and received Royal Assent on December 14, 2012, becoming renamed the Jobs and Growth Act, 2012.
Regardless of the Federal Government’s decision Chiefs, First Nations people, environmental groups and other Canadian citizens have continued to come together to protest the changes that this Act has introduced.
“The Mi’kmaq are rightfully upset,” said Chief Terrance Paul, Co-Chair of the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs. “There was no consultation and Bill C-45 will have direct impacts on Mi’kmaq Rights and Title.”
In Nova Scotia, the Assembly’s primary concern is the changes that were introduced to the Fisheries Act through this omnibus budget bill. The Assembly has recommended moving forward with legal proceedings to ensure the protection of our Moderate Livelihood Fishery. This decision is presently before each community’s Council for approval.
“The Mi’kmaq leadership is committed to ensuring the protection of our Treaty Rights,” continued Chief Paul. “We will stand strong against any legislation that could impact the lives of Mi’kmaq today, and for future generations.”
The Assembly and Kwilmu’kw Maw-klusuaqn Negotiation Office (KMKNO) want the Government to understand that, regardless of new legislation, the Mi’kmaq continue to have the right to fish for a moderate livelihood and this has been affirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada in its 1999 Marshall decision.
The Assembly remains focused on what steps need to be taken to continue to fight the Jobs and Growth Act, 2012 at a political level. They will continue to meet with technicians, advisors, and legal counsel to develop strategies on what must be done to fight this fast-tracked legislation and its potential impacts to the Mi’kmaq of NS.