SCOTCHFORT, PE, April 14, 2023 /CNW/ – The Government of Canada remains committed to advancing reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and working with First Nations to uphold their Indigenous and Treaty rights to fish, as affirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada, and protecting fishery resources for the benefit of all.
Building on this commitment, today, Chief Roderick W. Gould Jr., Abegweit First Nation; the Honourable Joyce Murray, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard; and the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations announced the signing of a Collaborative Fisheries Management Agreement that will provide Abegweit First Nation with funding to support implementation and governance related to its fisheries management activities.
The five-year renewable agreement will support Abegweit First Nation by:
- recognizing the Mi’kmaq Indigenous and Treaty rights to harvest and sell fish;
- providing funding to the First Nation to strengthen its capacity for fisheries management activities; and
- establishing joint structures and processes for a collaborative fisheries management approach.
Minister Murray also took the opportunity to announce up to $1.47 million in funding, over four years, to the Abegweit Conservation Society as part of the Aquatic Ecosystems Restoration Fund under the Oceans Protection Plan. This funding will help the Abegweit Conservation Society apply an ecosystem-based, whole watershed stewardship approach, integrating both science and Indigenous knowledge principles to manage threats affecting two culturally significant species at risk: Plamu’k (Atlantic Salmon) and Kataq (American Eel).
Today’s Collaborative Fisheries Management Agreement enhances Abegweit First Nation’s participation in the decision-making process related to fisheries, and was reached in the spirit of collaboration. It is one more step towards transformative changes that will advance the implementation of the Mi’kmaq Treaty right to fish.
“Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples and recognizing the rights of self-determination and self-government is an ongoing priority for our government. Today’s signing of a Collaborative Fisheries Management Agreement with Abegweit First Nation advances this commitment. We will continue working with First Nations to rebuild respectful, cooperative, and collaborative nation-to-nation relationships.”
The Honourable Joyce Murray, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
“Supporting and protecting First Nations’ right to fish is critical to renewing our Treaty relationship and being a good Treaty partner. We will continue working in partnership with First Nations to advance their rights, perspectives, and prosperity, as they move towards greater self-determination.”
The Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations
“This agreement marks a new chapter in our relationship with the Government of Canada. It signifies how, through partnership and collaboration, we can work together as Canadians to reconcile our differences and create positive outcomes for our communities. This agreement does not replace our treaty right to hunt and fish under the Peace and Friendship Treaties but is a positive first step towards future moderate livelihood discussions and will commit Abegweit and DFO to a collaborative partnership rooted in good faith.”
Chief Roderick W. Gould Jr., Abegweit First Nation
“The signing of this agreement with Abegweit First Nation is helping strengthen their fishery and creating economic opportunities that will support the community, the surrounding communities, and the whole island.”
The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs Canada and Member of Parliament for Cardigan
- Abegweit First Nation is a Mi’kmaq Nation headquartered in Scotchfort, Prince Edward Island and comprising three reserves: Morell 2, Rocky Point 3 and Scotchfort 4. As of December 2022, the population was 402.
- Discussions were undertaken by the Government of Canada in a manner consistent with section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the federal Principles respecting the Government of Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples.
- The Aquatic Ecosystems Restoration Fund, formerly known as the Coastal Restoration Fund, was launched in 2017 to preserve and restore marine ecosystems as part of the Oceans Protection Plan. This initiative provided funding for over 60 projects on all coasts which are expected to restore approximately 650 million square metres of aquatic habitat and contribute to the survival and recovery of threatened or endangered species.
- Our response to the Marshall decisions
- Reconciliation: Learn how the Government of Canada is working to advance reconciliation and renew the relationship with Indigenous peoples
- Overview of Recognition and Implementation of Indigenous Rights Framework
- United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act
- Aquatic Ecosystems Restoration Fund
- Oceans Protection Plan
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- Follow the Canadian Coast Guard on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn.
Collaborative Fisheries Management Agreement between Abegweit First Nation and Canada
In the 1999 Marshall decisions, the Supreme Court of Canada affirmed the treaty right to hunt, fish, and gather in pursuit of a moderate livelihood based on the Peace and Friendship Treaties of 1760-1761. This decision applies to 34 Mi’kmaq and Wolastoqey First Nations in Atlantic Canada, as well as the Peskotomuhkati Nation at Skutik in New Brunswick.
Following those decisions, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) worked with the 34 First Nations to ensure they had access to commercial fishing and program funding for capacity building. In parallel, rights-based negotiations were also undertaken with interested First Nations or their representative organization.
In 2017, DFO, Parks Canada Agency and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada obtained a five-year mandate to negotiate time-limited and legally binding Rights Reconciliation Agreements (RRA) on issues related to fisheries and national parks with the Peace and Friendship Treaty Nations.
Once signed, a fisheries RRA can provide funding to acquire new fisheries access, vessels, and gear. It can also establish a process for collaborative fisheries management and provide funding for implementation, and governance. Depending on the interests of each Treaty Nation, a fisheries RRA can contain both the access, vessels and gear and the collaborative fisheries management component or just one of them.
Agreement with Abegweit First Nation:
Abegweit First Nation is a Mi’kmaq First Nation located in Prince Edward Island.
Under the RRA mandate, Canada and Abegweit First Nation have negotiated a Collaborative Fisheries Management Agreement that will allow for the provision of funding to Abegweit for the implementation and governance related to its fisheries management activities.
The Collaborative Fisheries Management Agreement between Canada and Abegweit:
- recognizes the Treaty right to harvest and sell fish
- provides funding for implementation and governance related to fisheries management activities
- establishes a collaborative management process between DFO and Abegweit to manage its Mi’kmaq fisheries, through a Joint Operational Committee and an Executive Oversight Board
- commits to ongoing discussions, through the Joint Operational Committee or the Executive Oversight Board, to address the priority to facilitate the further implementation of the right to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood
- commits to consultations with the Joint Operational Committee or the Executive Oversight Board on a process for Mi’kmaq participants to enter new or emerging fisheries on a priority basis
- has a five-year term, which is renewable up to 25 years
SOURCE Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) Canada