Talks open on self-government for Nfld. Mi'kmaq band
Conne River, Nfld. — Newfoundland's Miawpukek First Nation has opened negotiations with the federal and provincial governments to establish some form of native self-government.
“We have long sought to assert our autonomy and self-determination,” Chief Misel Joe said in a statement released Friday.
“Although there is still a lot of negotiating work to come, I am glad that we have reached this milestone.”
The 36-square-kilometre Conne River reserve, which is home to about 700 people, is in southern Newfoundland on Bay d'Espoir. It is the only Mi'kmaq reserve recognized in Newfoundland.
The Miawpukek band was not recognized under the federal Indian Act until 1984.
The terms of negotiations should be established in a framework agreement by mid-2005. That will be followed by an agreement in principle and a final agreement.
Talks will take place in Conne River, St. John's, Ottawa and Halifax.
Mr. Joe said the federal government has recognized that promoting self-government is a key part of developing prosperous First Nations.
Andy Scott, the federal minister of Indian Affairs, said Ottawa's goal is to enhance the decision-making powers of First Nations.
In November, 2003, the federal government agreed to look into offering official recognition to nearly 4,000 members of the Federation of Newfoundland Indians, who have been without status since the province joined Canada more than 50 years ago.
This group of Mi'kmaq live predominantly along the west and south coasts of the island of Newfoundland, among the rest of the population.
In recent years, the Inuit and Innu in Labrador have received recognition from the federal Indian Affairs Department.
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