Archive Media Releases - 2004
December 10, 2004
Mi'kmaw Cultural Gathering held at Correctional Facility
Halifax (NS) - The Mi'kmaw Legal Support Network and the Mi'kmaq - Nova Scotia - Canada Tripartite Forum hosted a cultural gathering on December 2, 2004. It was held at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Burnside. The event was designed to provide Mi'kmaw and Aboriginal inmates with the opportunity to participate in drumming, story telling, traditional dancing and smudging ceremonies.
"I think it is a positive move to have cultural gatherings like these in correctional facilities. It fosters a better understanding of the differences among the inmates, and in this case helps people understand the cultural differences of the Mi'kmaq people," comments Don Julien, Executive Director, The Confederacy of Mainland Mi'kmaq.
The gathering acted as a connection to the inmates' Mi'kmaw heritage and community life, as these ceremonies would be a regular part of the Mi'kmaw inmates' lives away from the correctional facility. The event will also acted as an educational opportunity for non-native inmates.
Minister of Justice, Michael Baker comments, "This cultural gathering is a great example of cooperation among the three levels of government - Mi'kmaq, Provincial and Federal. As Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Minister of Justice for Nova Scotia, it is encouraging to see this type of cooperation that strengthens the cultural connections for Aboriginal inmates in our province."
The event was a collaboration of the Tripartite Forum, The Mi'kmaw Legal Support Network, the Nova Scotia Office of Aboriginal Affairs, Nova Scotia Department of Justice and the Government of Canada.
The Mi'kmaw Legal Support Network (MLSN) was initiated by the Nova Scotia Mi'kmaw Chiefs to develop and maintain a sustainable justice support system, which will ensure fair treatment for all Mi'kmaw and Aboriginal Peoples in the justice system. The MLSN originated in the work of The Tripartite Forum. The Tripartite Forum is a partnership between the Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq, the Province of Nova Scotia and the Government of Canada to strengthen relationships and to resolve outstanding Mi'kmaw issues of mutual concern.
Jeff Bishop, Communications Officer
Mi’kmaq•Nova Scotia•Canada Tripartite Forum
Partnership for One Goal
For the first time, in the Mi'kmaq - Nova Scotia - Canada Tripartite Forum, Mi'kmaq and government members from the seven working committees worked together to develop goals to improve the lives of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq. During a two-day facilitated session in Wagmatcook, on June 10 and 11, participants began developing a strategic plan.
The session is a follow-up to a previous session in January where several key issues for the Mi'kmaq people were identified. The issues included: Mi'kmaw language, jurisdiction, youth, skills development and community involvement.
Recognizing the broader relationship among the issues the Mi'kmaq Chiefs and government officials encouraged the working committees, culture & heritage, education, economic development, health, justice, social, and sport and recreation to work together.
The purpose of the strategic plan is to unify all committees to address the key issues.
Don Julien executive director for The Confederacy of Mainland Mi'kmaq is a member of the officials and the justice working committees. Mr. Julien stated, "The session was an opportunity for the committees to share resources and to show their commitment towards improving the lives of Mi'kmaq."
Smaller groups will look at the work from the session and develop the final strategic plan document.
Economic development working committee member, Tracy Menge felt the session was a great reminder, "that we are all working towards a common purpose; a better Mi'kmaq community. " Ms. Menge is an economic development officer for the Eskasoni First Nation.
Tripartite Forum meetings always welcome community members and were pleased to have special guests Grand Chief Ben Sylliboy, Grand Keptin and Tripartite Forum chair Alex Denny and other Elders from the community.
Guest presenter, Dan Christmas also provided a presentation on the history of the Tripartite Forum and an introduction to the Made - in - Nova Scotia Process.
Mr. Christmas' presentation and pictures from the assembly are available on the Tripartite Forum website at www.tripartiteforum.com.
The Tripartite Forum was formally established in 1997 as a partnership between the Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq, Province of Nova Scotia and Government of Canada to strengthen relationships and resolve outstanding Mi'kmaw issues of mutual concern. The Tripartite Forum is a strong vehicle to address issues that affect the lives of all Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq.
Download Dan Christmas' presentation here
May 12, 2004
Laying a Strong Foundation for the Future
June 21 is National Aboriginal Day, which provides an opportunity to celebrate the cultures and contributions First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples have made to Canada. While there is a lot to celebrate the quality of life for most Aboriginal Peoples is poor and many issues remain unresolved. But in Nova Scotia the Mi’kmaq, the province and the Government of Canada are working together to make a difference.
In Nova Scotia key relationships include the Mi’kmaq – Nova Scotia – Canada Tripartite Forum and the Made-in-Nova Scotia Process. In June 2002, the parties made the commitment to address issues such as providing quality health care services to Aboriginal Peoples and achieving self-sufficiency in First Nation communities.
Recently at a Tripartite Forum meeting involving the 13 Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw Chiefs and other Mi’kmaq and government officials, Chief Terry Paul of Membertou First Nation spoke highly of the commitment from the three parties to the Tripartite Forum and its positive outcomes.
The commitment has helped to develop results such as the Mi’kmaw Legal Support Network (MLSN). The program was developed to help bridge gaps and remove cultural barriers between the Mi’kmaq and the Nova Scotia legal system.
“Having a support system is invaluable,” said Janice Maloney, MLSN director. “The Mi’kmaw Legal Support Network exists because the Tripartite Forum acted as a strong vehicle to move this initiative.”
The Made-in-Nova Scotia Process, another key relationship between the Mi’kmaq, Nova Scotia and Canada, was formed to attempt to address issues of land, resources and governance rather then answering these questions in court.
In April the negotiators met with the media for the first time to provide an update on their progress. Tom Molloy, federal negotiator, said the Made-in-Nova Scotia Process was launched as a way for the Mi’kmaq, Canada and Nova Scotia to come up with cooperative solutions to outstanding aboriginal and treaty rights issues.
According to Jamie Campbell, chief negotiator for Nova Scotia, the Made-in-Nova Scotia Process is also about renewing the treaty relationship while building a stable relationship, which will allow a prosperous Mi’kmaw nation and a prosperous Nova Scotia.
The negotiators are in the process of developing a framework agreement that will include the objectives of negotiations, a timetable, list of subjects to be negotiated and a process to reach the objectives.
When asked how long the negotiations will take, all agreed that it would take time. As Bruce Wildsmith, lead negotiator for the Mi’kmaq, said it is a serious discussion that requires time to ensure it’s done properly.
April 6, 2004
Reducing the Representation of Mi’kmaq Youth in the Nova Scotia Justice System
The Mi’kmaw Legal Support Network recently brought together over 80 people from Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal organizations in an effort to reduce the numbers of Mi’kmaw youth in the Nova Scotia justice system.
“Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq represent a small portion of the general population, but the number of youth in custody is unreasonably high,” said Janice Maloney, Mi’kmaw Legal Support Network director.
“With a rapidly growing young Mi’kmaq population it is expected the numbers will grow if there are no support measures.”
The workshops addressed youth issues, available resources and future proposals. Presenters brought forward factors including education, culture, language and health. The concern among the participants is that proper balance of these factors plays a part in Mi’kmaq youth choosing healthy lifestyles.
Presenter and participant Ann Marie MacInnes, crown attorney for the Public Prosecution Services, believes it is important for community members to come together to commit, “time, energy and talents towards identifying issues and challenges and working together towards solutions.”
A Mi’kmaq youth participant, who is currently in custody and can’t be identified due to the Youth Criminal Justice Act, said, “I think it’s good people are finally getting together to help the youth.”
The support of workshops like the two recently held in Millbrook and Wagmatcook pulls resources together and develops partnerships among Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal organizations.
Maloney said, “Whether it’s providing more activities or support to youth when they’re going through the justice system, all factors do interrelate. That’s why it’s important to bring community and justice programming together.”
The host organization, the Mi’kmaw Legal Support Network (MLSN) offers a restorative justice program for youth called the Mi’kmaw Customary Law Program. The MLSN strives to build and maintain support systems for Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq in the justice system.
March 11, 2004
Helping Aboriginal Youth understand the Youth Criminal Justice System
Teachers, administrators and counsellors of Aboriginal youth recently gathered for a workshop to help them educate youth about the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA). The Mi’kmaw Legal Support Network hosted workshop called “On The Road to Justice,” a program of the Department of Justice Canada, Youth Justice Policy.
The program was developed in conjunction with a national Aboriginal steering committee and is offered to every province and territory in Canada.
In April it will be a year since the YCJA came into force. The YCJA helps to rehabilitate and reintegrate youth back into the community rather than sentencing first time and non-violent offenders.
Evelyn Neaman, the society’s national coordinator for “On the Road to Justice” said, “This project is critical for Aboriginal youth and their communities.”
Racism in the criminal justice system came forth when Donald Marshall Jr. spent 11 years in prison for a murder he did not commit. The 1989 Royal Commission on the Donald Marshall Jr. Prosecution reported the Cape Breton Mi’kmaq was the victim of a justice system rife with racism and offered more than 170 recommendations for improvement.
The workshop helps to bridge gaps and eliminate cultural barriers between the criminal justice system and the Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq by providing information and promoting an understanding of the YCJA.
“With knowledge comes a better understanding of the justice system,” said Janice Maloney, director of the Mi’kmaq Legal Support Network. “And knowledge empowers the community.”
The package consists of tools to help educate Aboriginal young people about their legal rights, accountability for their own actions and victim’s rights. As well it includes information on other alternatives the courts may consider such as sentencing circles.
The participants will take the program package back to their classrooms and communities and teach it to the young people they work with.
“The workshop develops an awareness about the YCJA and its process,” said Doreen Stevens, student counsellor for the Unamaki High School in Eskasoni. “The information provided allows me, as a support person, to assist the client in restorative justice and rehabilitation at the school level.”
The two workshops took place in Eskasoni on March 8th and in Millbrook on March 10th. The “On the Road to Justice” workshop is supported by the Department of Justice Canada, Youth Justice Policy and The Confederacy of Mainland Mi'kmaq.
The host organization, the Mi’kmaw Legal Support Network, strives to maintain sustainable justice support systems to ensure fair treatment for all Mi’kmaw and Aboriginal Peoples in the justice system.