The federal government and Elsipogtog First Nation have signed a memorandum of understanding that will launch discussions about the Mi’kmaq claim of Aboriginal title to a third of New Brunswick.
Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett and Elsipogtog Chief Arren Sock announced the step Thursday at the First Nation about 90 kilometres north of Moncton, in eastern New Brunswick.
In 2016, Elsipogtog filed a claim for Aboriginal title to a part of the province the Mi’kmaq call Sikniktuk, which essentially encompasses the entire southeastern part of New Brunswick.
Elsipogtog and the government will now explore entering into negotiations for the recognition of Mi’kmaq title, rights and treaty rights, and the protection and management of the environment and natural resources in Sikniktuk, said the announcement.
“We filed the Aboriginal title claim to preserve our right to make decisions about our lands and waters for our children and future generations,” said Sock.
Elsipogtog members have said the title claim was filed on behalf of all Mi’kmaq people in New Brunswick, and was motivated by fears of shale gas exploration clashes like the one that ensued between protesters and police in Rexton, near Elsipogtog, in October 2013. More than 40 people were arrested during the protests.
Bennett said the memorandum shows the federal government’s commitment to working with the First Nation to solve “outstanding issues,” close economic gaps and and advance reconciliation.
This story originally appeared on CBC