Nova Scotia Pardons Mi’kmaq Chief 60 Years Later

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Gabriel Sylliboy died feeling like he failed his Mi’kmaq people. The grand chief launched a fight for aboriginal rights after being charged with illegal hunting in the 1920s, but the courts of the era dismissed the notion that a 1752 treaty gave Sylliboy any rights. It would take another six decades before those rights were recognized by the courts.

“Our grand chief was really quite sad about the fact that he was charged and wasn’t able to be successful in obtaining Mi’kmaq rights for his people,” said Jaime Battiste, the province’s treaty education lead. “He went to his deathbed thinking he let the Mi’kmaq people down.”

On Thursday, nearly 90 years after his conviction, the Nova Scotia government pardoned and honoured Sylliboy, who was born in 1874 in Whycocomagh, N.S., and became the first elected Mi’kmaq grand chief.

Read the full story in the Herald News.

Daniel Christmas, First Mi’kmaw Appointed to the Canadian Senate

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Senator Daniel Christmas, First Mi’kmaw Appointed to the Canadian Senate

Dan Christmas never knew what or where his journey would take him. He just knew his father’s teachings would buoy him along the way — and that was going to be more than good enough.

The oldest of six children, Christmas often found himself in a leadership role in his Membertou-based family at a young age. He encouraged his younger siblings, gave a hand to his mother around the house when needed, and even joined his dad at his various work spots.

But when Christmas and his family were hit with the unexpected passing of their father, he was thrust into what would be his eventual full-time calling in life — leading — and he hasn’t looked back since.

Read more at danielnpaul.com.

Nova Scotia Premier Apologizes to Mi’kmaq Chiefs and Elders

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Premier Stephen McNeil was making every effort to move from insult to consult after a meeting Thursday with the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs. “The meeting started out this morning with an opportunity for me to express my regret and my apologies to the chiefs and to members of their communities,” McNeil said.

“The words that were attached to a brief that went before the court were not mine and not my feelings. I believe the foundation of this province and this country is in those treaties. We have a duty to consult, the Supreme Court has dealt with this issue a long time ago and it’s my responsibility as the premier of this province to make sure that we follow through on respecting the rights of the Mi’kmaq.”

Respect was not at the forefront in a Nova Scotia Supreme Court appeal case last week when Justice Department lawyer Alex Cameron described the complainants, the Sipekne’katik band, as a conquered people who had surrendered their sovereignty to the British Crown in the 1700s, negating the duty of the province to consult on industrial projects.

Read the full story at localxpress.ca.

Refer back to the incident that provoked this apology.

Mi’kmaq Are ‘Conquered People’ Says Nova Scotia Government Lawyer

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A legal brief submitted on behalf of the province of Nova Scotia denies treaty rights and labels the Mi’kmaq as conquered peoples.

“To suggest that we are ‘conquered’ is a racist taunt,” wrote Millbrook Chief Bob Gloade in a media release. “At its worst, it has been used against Indigenous Canadians to perpetuate or justify a state of inferior legal, social or socio-economic conditions.”

The brief is part of a court case centred on consultation with the Sipekne’Katik Band over a natural gas storage project. The band asked for a judicial review of the provincial permits that approved the Alton Gas project. But a court case about whether the Crown meaningfully consulted with one band over a particular project, has brought up what many are calling offensive arguments about treaty rights that extend to all Mi’kmaq in Nova Scotia.

Read the full story on APTN National News.

Alton Gas Resistance: NS Government’s Legal Attack

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Today Sipekne’katik First Nation goes to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia to challenge the provincial government’s consultation process regarding the Alton Gas project. Sipekne’katik’s essential argument is that the band was not adequately consulted about the project, despite the obvious direct impacts it will have on the community. The provincial government’s legal strategy to defend against this claim is deeply troubling.

The province is attempting to win this case by undermining the sovereignty of the Mi’kmaq people, claiming that only “unconquered peoples” are owed a duty of consultation. It argues that Sipekne’katik First Nation ‘submitted’ to the Crown in the 1760 treaty, and is therefore not owed the government’s constitutional duty to consult.

Read the full update at The Council of Canadians online.

Alton Gas: Elnu Abenaki Support for Sipekne’katik, Mi’kmaki

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Elnu Tribe of Abenaki has confirmed its support for the Mi’maki community at Sipekne’katik on the Shubenacadie River in Nova Scotia, as they stand in solidarity against the Alton Gas salt cavern storage project. A letter has been sent to the Grandmothers expressing unity and understanding, and upholding the shared responsibilities of the Wabanakiak in their homelands, N’dakinna.

See this post for more background.

Treaty Truck House Against Alton Gas, Mi’kmaki

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Alton Natural Gas Storage Limited is  developing a huge storage site for hydrocarbons (natural gas and others) in Brentwood, Colchester County, Nova Scotia.  They will use water from the Shubenacadie River to flush out underground salt deposits. “During construction of the caverns, brine will be released into a constructed channel connected to the Shubenacadie River where it will mix with the tidal (brackish) river water to maximize dilution.”¹  It will be directly discharged into the  Shubenacadie River through the channel.  The amount of salt from these caverns amounts to over 8 million cubic yards – 500,000 dump truck loads, depending upon how many caverns are created.

This is of great concern to Mi’kmaq citizens, fishers, local landowners, environmental organizations and allies since this unique river ecosystem is home to several endangered and at risk species. The discharge site is near the mouth of the Stewiacke River, one of the last breeding grounds for striped Bass and also habitat for endangered Atlantic Salmon. Despite continued outcry and court challenges from First Nations, local landowners and fishers regarding the lack of consultation and meaningful environmental assessments, the company has received all necessary approval.  An overruling by the Minister of Environment, Premier or Federal Critical Habitat designation could still stop the project before the brine dumping takes place.

Learn more about this immediate significant threat to indigenous rights in Mi’kmaki, on the north central Acadian peninsula.