Engaging our First People

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In Nova Scotia the relationship between Mi’kmaq people and non-Mi’kmaq people has been evolving for 400 years. We still have a long way to go in building trust, respect and understanding, but signs of hope are appearing and it is time to take the relationship to a new level. Through a deeper understanding of our shared past and common future can we realize our collective potential. Building understanding and strengthening relationships will be our cornerstone to progress.

Conference1.jpgEngage Nova Scotia (ENS), Treaty Education Nova Scotia and Canadians For a New Partnership (CFNP) co-hosted a half-day event on November 16th at the Halifax Central Library that convened more than 250 key leaders and members of the public for a conversation about building relationship between Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal peoples in Nova Scotia.

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The event was emceed by Engage Chair Ramona Lumpkin and Regional Chief Morely Googoo. It featured Prime Minister Paul Martin and AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde as headline speakers.

A Nova Scotia panel with Jaime Battiste of Treaty Education Nova Scotia, lawyer Naiomi Metallic and Dr. Cynthia Alexander from Acadia University provided commentary on questions asked of the audience. Participants also enjoyed drumming by Eastern Eagles, opening prayer by Elder Isabelle Knockwood and a welcome to Mi’kmaq territory by Chief Sid Peters.

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The purpose of the event was to initiate meaningful dialogue across sectors aimed at building the relationship between Aboriginal and all other Nova Scotians and to inform the work of the Treaty Education Collaboration and the CFNP. Most participants expressed that they felt a new sense of hope because of the event. Feedback was almost unanimous that participants learned a great deal, and that they were inspired to do their part of building better relationships between aboriginal and all other Nova Scotians.

As we were reminded throughout the event, the Peace and Friendship treaties formalized a relationship that we continue today – making us all Treaty people. Engage has been encouraged that conversations are continuing about important matters raised during the event such as the issues around the Cornwallis statue as well as the river and street name. Actions like Halifax making an official statement of reconciliation to the aboriginal community and the posthumous pardon of Grand Chief Gabriel Sylliboy are essential steps to creating a better future for all Nova Scotians.

For more information on Treaty Education Nova Scotia view their Facebook page. For more information on Canadians for a New Partnership visit their website or view their video. Click here to sign the Declaration of Canadians for a New Partnership.

Media Coverage

Nova Scotians Need To Learn Mi’kmaw Treaty History, Forum Told by Maureen Googoo

APTN news coverage - Trina Roache

Requested Resources

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

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