Category Archives: Mi’kmaq

Innu, Mi’gmaq and Maliseet form political coalition to protect Gulf of St. Lawrence from oil and gas exploration

November 4th, 2013

Oct. 29, 2013
CNW Telbec

The Innu, Maliseet and Mi’gmaq Chiefs announced today they have formed a Political Coalition to protect the Gulf of St. Lawrence from the dangers posed by oil and gas exploration.

On October 23, 2013 the Chiefs signed – during the Chiefs Assembly of the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador – a Memorandum of Understanding – see it here Innu, Maliseet and Mi’gmaq National coalition for the protection of the Gulf of St. Lawrence   setting out the Coalition’s main objectives:
• Speak with a common voice on issues related to the Gulf of St. Lawrence;
• Protect Aboriginal and Treaty Rights and Title throughout the Gulf of St. Lawrence;
• Prepare and table with the Government of Canada and the Government of Québec a joint Aboriginal and Treaty Rights and Title Claim to the Gulf of St. Lawrence;
• Develop an Innu, Maliseet and Mi’gmaq Accord in response to the “Accord between the Government of Canada and the Government of Québec accord for the shared management of petroleum resources in the Gulf of St. Lawrence”.

“Since time immemorial, the waters and shores of the Gulf of St. Lawrence have been used and occupied by the Innu to the north and the Maliseet and Mi’gmaq to the south, for purposes including fishing, hunting, and travel. Our three peoples were the first trading partners of the French from the time that Champlain sailed into the Gulf’s waters over 400 years ago”, declared Chief Claude Jeannotte on behalf of Mi’gmawei Mawiomi.

“The tiny reserves the federal government set aside for the Innu, Maliseet and the Mi’gmaq out of their vast territory are now found around the Gulf, located in Québec, Labrador, on the Island of Newfoundland, in Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.  Beyond those lands, however, our three peoples continue to use and occupy the waters of the Gulf, exercising their Aboriginal and treaty rights and the title that they have never surrendered”, declared Chief Jean-Charles Piétacho on behalf of the Innu Nation from Québec explained.

“These facts mean that we have rights that are recognized and affirmed by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. Among other things, these rights mean that the federal and provincial governments are obliged to consult and accommodate us in order to avoid any irreparable harm to the exercise of our rights. Serious infringements of our rights require our consent” (1), declared Grand Chief Anne Archambault, on behalf of the Maliseet Nation.

About the Coalition: 
The Coalition is formed by the Innu, Maliseet and Mi’gmaq Nations and intended to protect the Gulf of St. Lawrence from the dangers posed by oil and gas exploration. The Coalition speaks with a common voice on issues related to the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The Coalition spokesperson are Chief of Gespeg Claude Jeannotte and the Executive Director of Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat, Troy Jerome.

(1) Haida Nation v. British Columbia (Minister of Forests), [2004] 3 SCR 511, para. 47, 24.

For further information:
Troy Jerome
Cell.: 1-506-759-2000
Email: tjerome[at]

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The Harper government is radicalizing First Nations (iPolitics)

March 21st, 2013

By Michael Harris
Mar 21, 2013

Brace yourself for the Indian Wars, Stephen Harper style.

This federal government doesn’t give a flying fornication about indigenous issues, and the way the stars are lining up, there will be a price to pay for their disdain.

The Indian Wars of history were actually comprised of 40 major military actions against American aboriginals under the Indian Removal Act of 1830. Dropping the John Wayne factor from the chronicle, they amounted to a continental eviction notice. It was served on indigenous peoples by wave after wave of European settlers and squatters backed up by the U.S. Cavalry.

In those days, south-side, the gun-to-the-head choices facing indigenous peoples were assimilation, forced relocation to reservations, flight or resistance. Manifest Destiny was the rallying cry to justify the serial massacres designed to convince American Indians to voluntarily exchange their land for treaties that often proved worthless. Sadly, Hollywood and the cowboys got to write the history.

Today, the chief weapon used against aboriginals in Canada is not the repeating rifle or canon. It is the poisoned word innocuously inserted into complex agreements. It is the poisoned image of a people retailed by a federal government interested in only one thing — jump-starting resource development on native land with minimum interference from the owners.

Ironically, the choices facing Canada’s indigenous peoples are not much different than the ones that led the Cherokee Nation down the Trail of Tears, where 60,000 of them died on the way to Oklahoma: assimilation, the reserve, flight or resistance. The economy has now replaced Manifest Destiny as the justification, but the endgame is the same — take what belongs to someone else by diminishing them and their rights as much as possible. The easiest victims of this slow, smothering approach are the ones who are the most trusting.

Even the credulous Shawn Atleo, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, must now understand the extent to which he has been taken in by the prime minister — and the growing distance between the misplaced passivity of the native leadership and the skepticism and activism of the grassroots Idle No More movement.

Not consulted on the PM’s appointment of the so-called ‘envoy‘ on native affairs, unaware of sneaky changes to the contribution agreements bands sign each year with Ottawa, and still wondering when all those high-level “transformative” meetings will take place, Atleo has been contemptuously tossed aside by his Tory friends.

To his credit, he has begun to speak up. Chief Atleo has asked that First Nations be consulted on any changes to the contribution agreements. Good luck. He has also demanded that Ottawa rescind changes to this year’s agreements, which the government has disingenuously referred to as merely “administrative.” The fact is, they could be interpreted as seriously diminishing indigenous and treaty rights, which is precisely why they were made. If the PM runs true to form, Atleo will simply be ignored.

Someone should tell the masters of the universe in Aboriginal Affairs that Canada’s indigenous people no longer conduct their commerce in beads and pelts, and that their educations go well beyond the diplomas in terror and suffering they got at the residential schools.

Brilliant minds familiar with the native community, people like Wilton Littlechild and Constance Backhouse, have been carefully tracking the federal government’s insidious changes to the language of the contribution agreements. They have written that the federal Justice Department has been experimenting for some time with “replacing the clear non-derogation language with many weaker versions.”

It is very wise of keen observers like Littlechild and Backhouse, and small online outfits like the Wabanaki Press, to watch and report on what justice department lawyers are doing at the government’s behest. After all, Stephen Harper doesn’t give his word, he gives wording. Every word of every sentence of Harper legislation must be parsed.

Even the credulous Shawn Atleo, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, must now understand the extent to which he has been taken in by the prime minister.

Stephen Harper is not the only prime minister who has tried to outfox indigenous peoples. But as noted in the blog apihtawikosisan, the Harper government is the first to slip a new law onto the agenda, Bill S-8, that actually has an active derogation clause.

It is the most obvious evidence to date that Ottawa is seeking to get around Section 35 of the Constitution Act of 1982, which offers protection for aboriginal and treaty rights. As the Cree-speaking Metis blogger notes, “the proposed law explicitly states that aboriginal and treaty rights deemed to be in conflict with the law’s stated intention will not be respected. And for the first time, a new law would contradict promises made to aboriginal peoples in treaties as to the interpretive primacy of those treaties.”

What better place to subtly undermine indigenous rights than the very agreements through which Canada’s 600 bands are funded? As reported by Olesia Plokhii in iPolitics, some experts think the Harper government is playing “a game of fiscal extortion and tantamount to nothing less than economic terrorism.”

Though some in the government may see bringing communities like Burnt Church to its knees as a success, nothing could be further from the truth. If anything, it has forcibly reminded moderate First Nations peoples that this federal government is not their friend. Cooperation means capitulation and bending to the status quo. Harper is well on his way to radicalizing the First Nations communities across the country.

When a minister like Tony Clement talks about the “once in a lifetime” opportunity to develop the resources of the Ring of Fire in Ontario, he is not talking about fifty years hence — he’s talking about right now. Bottom line? The federal government plans major resource developments long before the ink is dry on any land claims agreements. Every indigenous person in the country knows what that means. With $650 billion worth of resource development looming across the country, it’s now or never when it comes to making their case for inclusion.

Given the Harper government’s blindness to both aboriginals and the environment, how do the First Nations peoples fight back? The media used to be available to them, but many indigenous people are convinced that even the press has become antagonistic, if not occasionally racist. The proof they offer is the appalling treatment meted out to Chief Theresa Spence during the recent Idle No More actions in Ottawa.

That leaves the courts and the streets. The courts have been heroically just in holding governments to the honour of the Crown but famously, and perhaps necessarily, slow. With huge political decisions looming in the short term, including Northern Gateway, mining activities in northern Ontario and offshore drilling in the waters off 34 reserves in Atlantic Canada, that leaves the streets.

And here is the dilemma with that option. Protests are getting to be tricky business. They often involve prior approval, permits, notification of time periods, fees, the imposition of liability insurance on protesters, not to mention infiltration by security agencies, police surveillance and intrusive searches.

The received wisdom these days in government circles seems to be that no protest is peaceful unless it also utterly pointless. Judges in both Manitoba and Ontario have recently granted injunctions against the blocking of roads by native protesters. An Ontario judge, Robert Riopelle, said police charges were warranted against members of the Attawapiskat band for blocking the ice road into De Beer’s Victor diamond mine. Again, the Ontario Provincial Police wisely kept their powder dry.

Protesting has become such an endangered activity that the Human Rights Council of the United Nations is about to hold a special debate on the subject. It already has received nine submissions, including one from the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, on protecting the right to social protest as a fundamental democratic freedom.

So here it is: if the government isn’t responsive to native issues, the mass media is unfavourably disposed, the courts are slow, and the right to protest is under pressure — and against all that there is also a resource development juggernaut bearing down on First Nations territory — should anyone be surprised if the earth moves this summer?

No one can say they didn’t see it coming.

Michael Harris is a writer, journalist, and documentary filmmaker. He was awarded a Doctor of Laws for his “unceasing pursuit of justice for the less fortunate among us.” His eight books include Justice Denied, Unholy Orders, Rare ambition, Lament for an Ocean, and Con Game. His work has sparked four commissions of inquiry, and three of his books have been made into movies. He is currently working on a book about the Harper majority government to be published in the autumn of 2014 by Penguin Canada.
Readers can reach the author at

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Mi’kmaq Elder Albert Marshall explains “Netukulimk”

February 22nd, 2013

Netukulimk is a Mi’kmaq word that, according to Mi’kmaq Elder Albert Marshall, encompasses the concept of sustainability. He explains the essence and spirit of Netukulimk in this short video.

Albert Marshall is an Elder Advisor to the Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources and has been a member of the Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition for many years.

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Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat statement re: Oil and Gas in Gespe’gewa’gi

February 15th, 2013

Oil and Gas: Gespe’gewa’gi
Information Bulletin

For Immediate Release:

Feb. 15, 2013, Gespe’gewagi – Oil & Gas exploration in Gespe’gewa’gi is quickly becoming an important topic as news spreads of large oil deposits and an apparent race by Québec and junior oil exploration companies to attract outside investors. To provide clarification on how the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat is involved in issues related to Oil & Gas, we offer the following information:

At this time, the MMS does not have a mandate from the communities to pursue issues related to Oil and Gas development on Gespe’gewa’gi. There are no discussions between oil & gas exploration companies and MMS to pursue any development. The MMS is not facilitating oil exploration, or encouraging any company to drill in Gespe’gewa’gi.

The Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) continues to fail in its obligation to consult with the Mi’gmaq. There continues to be no attempts by Quebec to seek consultation on potential oil & gas leases or permits.

The MMS will be meeting with the Mi’gmaq Tri-council (Chief and Councillors from Gesgapegiag, Gespeg and Listuguj) in the spring of 2013 to table a ‘Draft Energy Policy’. The MMS will be seeking direction from the Leadership on how to ensure the interests of the Gespe’gewa’gi Mi’gmaq are realized and our rights and environment are protected.

It is clear to the Leadership that at this time, offshore oil exploration in the Gulf cannot be done in a safe manner.  With the current exploration technology we understand that risks are very high and have the potential to cause irreparable damage to our lands and waters and most importantly; our salmon.

The Leadership of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi put forward a demand for a moratorium on the exploration and exploitation of Oil & Gas in the Gulf of the St. Lawrence. Further to that, the MM leadership joined forces with the St. Lawrence Coalition to pressure the government to put a permanent moratorium on Oil and Gas development in the Gulf.

With the help of biologists and other environmental monitoring experts, we are conducting studies on the effects of fracking to water and land. The MMS is working to provide relevant information so that the Leadership of the 3 Mi’gmaq communities are well informed on all the environmental, social and economic impacts of oil & gas exploration. It is always our preoccupation to work to provide this information to aide the leadership to make informed decisions. The protection of the environment remains as the paramount objective.

• Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat  • 2 Riverside West,  P.O. Box 135
• Listuguj,   Gespe’gewa’gi,  Qc.    G0C 2R0
• Tel: (418) 788-1760  • Toll Free 1 (800) 370-1760  • Fax: (418) 788-1315
• E-mail:

MMS Website:
MMS Facebook Page:

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Mi’gmaq of Gespe’gewa’gi demand true Gulf wide consultation

November 27th, 2012

(Joint Press Release issued by Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat and St. Lawrence Coalition.)

The Mi’gmaq of Gespe’gewa’gi meet the Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board –
A true consultation covering the whole Gulf of St. Lawrence is demanded

Gesgapegiag, November 27, 2012 – Following numerous demands by the Mi’gmaq to be consulted on exploration or development of oil and gas in the Gulf and its potential impacts, the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board and its consultant AMEC inc. have met today in Gesgapegiag with representives of the Gespe’gewa’gi Mi’gmaq.

The Mi’gmaq acknowledge the visit of representatives from the Newfoundland Board in charge of the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of Newfoundland’s part of the Gulf. However, like all communities recently consulted in the five coastal provinces, the Mi’gmaq have also expressed their deep deception for the ongoing consultation process.

“The current consultations in the five Gulf provinces are not detailed in the least, and in no way answer to coastal communities’ expectations and demands, nor does it in any way respond to the legal obligations owed to the Mi’gmaq by the Crown”, according to Troy Jerome, Executive Director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat.

Numerous questions and concerns were raised during the meeting. The Mi’gmaq demand a legitimate consultation and accommodation process, one that is led by an independent and competent Joint Review Panel that indeed evaluates the true impacts of oil and gas exploration and drilling in the Gulf as a whole. They assert that this constitutes the only means of accurately comprehending the concerns of the Mi’gmaq in relation to the risks associated with an oil and gas tragedy in the Gulf that would undoubtedly provoke devastating repercussions on medicinal plants and salmon that are essential to the Mi’gmaq way of life.

The Mi’gmaq insist on the fact that they have a unique relationship with Gespe’gewa’gi, which makes them caretakers of their lands and waters for all future generations.

The St. Lawrence Coalition, also present at this meeting, shares the major and legitimate concerns expressed by the Mi’gmaq. “We also ask that the current consultation process be rectified and we demand a review panel on the totality of the Gulf of St. Lawrence with true and thorough public consultations” explains Danielle Giroux, spokesperson for the St. Lawrence Coalition. According to the Coalition, it is time to adequately answer the call of First Nations and thousands of citizens in coastal communities, fishermen, tourism industry, municipalities, environmental groups, scientists, all greatly concerned by the future of the Gulf.

Sylvain Archambault, also spokesperson for the St. Lawrence Coalition, reminds us of the great fragility of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and of the necessity of using utmost care : “We firmly believe that conditions are not in place to allow exploration and development of oil and gas in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Consequently, a moratorium in all of the Gulf of St. Lawrence seems essential.”

– 30 –
The St. Lawrence Coalition gathers together First Nations and non-aboriginal people from 80 groups and associations, and 4500 individuals from various economic sectors in the 5 coastal provinces. Members of the Coalition are calling for a moratorium on exploration and exploitation of oil and gas across the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Sources :
Troy Jerome
Executive Director, Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat
(418) 788-1760

Danielle Giroux
Spokesperson, St. Lawrence Coalition (interviews in French)
President, Attention FragÎles
(418) 986-6644 /

Sylvain Archambault
Spokesperson, St. Lawrence Coalition (interviews in French and English)
CPAWS Québec
(581) 995-4350 /

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Assembly of First Nations Supports Demand for Moratorium on Oil and Gas Drilling in the Maqtugweg (Gulf of St-Lawrence)

December 8th, 2011

December 8, 2011
The Assembly of First Nations Special Chiefs Assembly agreed to support the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Demand for Moratorium on Oil and Gas Drilling in the Maqtugweg (Gulf of St. Lawrence)
Resolution no. 77/2011 states:

A. The Mi’gmaq, having inhabited the Gespe’gewa’gi territory since time immemorial, have inalienable title to the land, surrounding waters and have un-extinguished aboriginal rights, title and treaty rights throughout the territory.
B. The Mi’gmaq are caretakers of their traditional lands, minerals and waters for all future generations in order to fulfill the rights, obligations and the sacred instructions of their ancestors.
C. According to the prospecting licenses granted by the Crown, exploratory drilling is set to take place by 2012 at Old Harry in the Maqtugweg and, which is only 80 kilometres away from the Magdalen Islands and is located within the boundaries of the Gespe’gewa’gi territory.
D. This initial drilling operation will set the stage for hydrocarbon exploitation in the Maqtugweg without having sufficiently taken into account the possible harmful impacts that may occur.
E. An oil spill in the Maqtugweg may have devastating repercussions on the Gespe’gewa’gi samuqwann and the surrounding medicines, plants, food and animals from all elements of creation.
F. Many non aboriginal communities depend on the Maqtugweg for their socioeconomic activities, such as fishing and tourism.
G. Exploding human numbers, technological power, consumptive demand, and global economy are putting the Maqtugweg under multiple stresses.
H. Nature cannot be forced to conform to human borders and economy: instead we must maintain its health and subordinate our interests to Maqtugweg.
I. Given the unique relationship that the Maqtugweg and the Mi’gmaq have together, any oil and gas exploration and subsequent hydrocarbon exploitation in the Maqtugweg constitutes a major infringement on Mi’gmaq rights, title and interests.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Chiefs-in-Assembly:
1. Support the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi in their demand to the Quebec government to maintain its current moratorium on oil and gas drilling and demand the Federal government to institute a moratorium for the entire Gulf of Saint-Lawrence.
2. If the moratorium fails, support the St-Lawrence Coalition in its efforts to:
a. establish an integrated management of the Gulf;
b. assess the environmental, social and economical risks and impacts of oil and gas resources development;
c. demand that the strictest rules and the most advanced technology be used for oil and gas resources development;
d. choose, as a collective group, to drill or not in the Gulf.

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Over 200 supporters rally in Gesgapegiag, Quebec to protest oil and gas drilling in the Gulf – Video

October 24th, 2011

Highlights from the Oil & Gas Protest held in Gesgapegiag on Oct. 22, 2011. Over 200 supporters were on hand to send a message to the Governments and the Industry on plans for Off-Shore Oil drilling in Gespe’gewa’gi.

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