Q. What is the Umbrella Agreement?
A. The Umbrella Agreement is a political agreement which formalizes the commitment made by Canada, Nova Scotia and the Mi'kmaq of Nova Scotia on January 10, 2001. The agreement commits the Parties to working together in good faith to resolve mutual issues, and highlights three distinct elements of their relationship:
Q. What is the Made-in-Nova Scotia Process?
A. The Made-in-Nova Scotia Process has been established by the Mi'kmaq of Nova Scotia, and the governments of Canada and Nova Scotia as a means to negotiate outstanding issues of Aboriginal rights, including assertions of Aboriginal title and treaty rights. The process is called "Made-in-Nova Scotia" in recognition of the unique situation of the Mi'kmaq communities and the historic treaties in the province.
Q. What is the Framework Agreement?
A. The Framework Agreement sets out the process and the subjects to be discussed in full negotiations that fall broadly under the categories of land, resources and governance. It is intended to promote efficient, effective, orderly and timely negotiations towards a resolution respecting Mi'kmaq rights and title.
Q. What is the aim of negotiations?
A. The negotiation process is aimed at reaching agreements to govern relationships among Canada, the Mi'kmaq and Nova Scotia over issues of land, resources and governance. The Parties hope to build on existing relationships to create stronger ties and benefits between communities and to provide reconciliation between the Parties. The Framework Agreement is an important step toward this goal.
Q. Why are we negotiating now?
A. Over the past thirty years, courts in Nova Scotia and Canada have recognized the existence and validity of Aboriginal and treaty rights and have tried to clarify the nature and extent of these rights. Canadian courts have consistently encouraged governments and First Nations to approach questions of Aboriginal and treaty rights through negotiations rather than litigation. Such was the case in 1999 when the Supreme Court of Canada in the Donald Marshall Jr. case confirmed the existence of Mi'kmaq rights as outlined in the Treaties of 1760-61. The Supreme Court did not define how these rights were to be implemented, but instead encouraged the Parties to negotiate a resolution in a fair and equitable manner.
Q. Who are the parties to these negotiations?
A. These negotiations involve the Government of Canada (represented by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada), the Government of Nova Scotia (represented by the Office of Aboriginal Affairs) and the Mi'kmaq of Nova Scotia (represented by the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq Chiefs).
Q. How much will negotiations cost?
A. It's too early in the process to estimate costs. We are looking for an agreement that is affordable, cost-effective and results in constructive and enduring solutions.
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Q. How long will the negotiations take?
A. The Framework Agreement includes a target of six years to conclude a Memorandum of Understanding that sets out general agreement on the issues. The Parties intend to develop a final Accord in the three years after that. The Framework Agreement also provides for a progress review after four years at which time the Parties will consider whether any adjustments to the process are needed. All Parties want to see tangible results early in the process.
Q. Will Nova Scotians be consulted on what is being discussed and what kind of say will they have?
A. Stakeholders and members of the general public will have opportunities to become informed and involved throughout the negotiation process. The views and interests of the public, stakeholder groups and organizations will help ensure that the broader public interest is understood and considered in resolving issues under negotiation. All parties recognize that public involvement is an important part of the process and will be talking to interested people and organizations, both Mi'kmaq and non-Aboriginal.
Q. What is the Tripartite Forum?
A. The Mi'kmaq-Nova Scotia-Canada Tripartite Forum was established in 1997 to provide the Mi'kmaq and federal/provincial government a place to resolve issues of mutual concern. The Forum's vision is to build a foundation for prosperous and vibrant Mi'kmaw communities through partnership, commitment and respect. More information about the Forum can be found at www.tripartiteforum.com.
Q. How many Aboriginal people live in Nova Scotia?
A. According to the last available census information (2006), approximately 24,000 people in Nova Scotia self-identified as having Aboriginal identity. The vast majority of these people are Mi'kmaq with approximately 13,500 registered to Mi'kmaq First Nations in Nova Scotia.
Q. How many First Nation communities are there in Nova Scotia?
A. There are thirteen Mi'kmaq First Nation communities in Nova Scotia with 34 reserve locations all across the province. The largest communities are Eskasoni (3,800) in Cape Breton and Indian Brook (2,200). In addition, the Halifax Regional Municipality is home to almost 2900 First Nation people.
Q. Where can I go to get more information on programs and services available to Aboriginal people in Nova Scotia?
A. The federal government has a compendium of programs and services available at the following web site: http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/ps/ser-eng.asp.
Q. I have a parent or grandparent who has Aboriginal ancestry. How can I find out about my eligibility for Status under the Indian Act?
A. The Indian Act is federal legislation and questions about obtaining status under the Indian Act should be directed to Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC). Phone 1-800-567-9604 or check out the link below for additional information: http://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1100100032374/1100100032378 .
Q. I am a Status Indian and need to find out about coverage for dental/medical/drug costs. Who do I contact?
A. First Nations and Inuit Health Branch (Health Canada). Telephone: (902) 426-2656 or 1-800-565-3294 and for Dental Coverage (902) 426-4298.
Q. I have questions about taxation (HST/GST). Who do I contact?
A. For HST or Income Tax matters contact Canada Revenue Agency, Telephone 1-800-959-5525 or (902) 426-7199 or on the web: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/brgnls/menu-eng.html
For Fuel or Tobacco Tax questions contact Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations at 1-800-565-2336. You can find information on the Nova Scotia Indian Fuel Tax Exemption Program at the following link - Indian Fuel Tax Exemption Program - Consumers.