Reconciliation in action: Fisheries agreement reached between Government of Canada and the Elsipogtog and Esgenoôpetitj First Nations
From: Fisheries and Oceans Canada
August 15, 2019
Halifax, Nova Scotia – The Government of Canada is committed to a renewed relationship with Indigenous peoples based on the recognition of rights, respect, cooperation and partnership. Building on this commitment, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, and the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, together with Chief Arren Sock of the Elsipogtog First Nation and Chief Alvery Paul of the Esgenoôpetitj First Nation, announced today that they have agreed to a long-term plan to advance reconciliation in the fisheries. This will benefit the Mi’kmaq communities of Elsipogtog and Esgenoôpetitj and the broader fishing communities in New Brunswick.
The 10-year Interim Fisheries Implementation Agreement addresses areas of mutual interest in the fisheries, and will help foster improved relationships with, and outcomes for, the Elsipogtog and Esgenoôpetitj First Nations by:
- upholding the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision regarding these First Nations’ Treaty rights to harvest and sell fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood;
- reducing socio-economic gaps by supporting these First Nations’ capacity to participate in the fisheries and obtain additional fisheries’ access, such as licenses and quota, as well as vessels and gear; and
- establishing future negotiation processes regarding the co-development of a collaborative fisheries management approach.
This agreement was reached in the spirit of collaboration; it will advance recognition of rights and make real progress on the issues most important to the Elsipogtog and Esgenoôpetitj First Nations. Having a long-term agreement in place will help provide for stable, predictable and sustainable fisheries for all harvesters in the region.
“Fishing is a culturally significant activity for Indigenous peoples. The Elsipogtog and Esgenoôpetitj First Nations continuously work to ensure there are fishing employment opportunities for all community members, including captains and crews. Today’s agreement builds on this hard work and demonstrates that the best way to address outstanding issues and achieve reconciliation and recognition of rights with Indigenous peoples is through dialogue and negotiation.”
The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
“Exercising fishing and harvesting rights are meaningful steps towards self-determination for the Elsipogtog and Esgenoôpetitj First Nations. With this agreement, we are building a strong relationship with our Mi’kmaq partners and continuing on the path to reconciliation.”
The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations
“Fisheries have long played a vital role in the fabric of the Elsipogtog community, and we have been working hard to build capacity and increase participation of community members in our fishing enterprises. This agreement will enable Elsipogtog First Nation to continue to enhance its economic base in fisheries, a base that will in turn create sustainable jobs in our community.”
Chief Arren Sock, Elsipogtog First Nation
“The people of Esgenoôpetitj have a long history of using fisheries for food and commercial purposes. We have greatly increased our harvesting interests over the past 20 years and have diversified into fish processing. This agreement will enable us to further diversify our fisheries, to the sole benefit of our community members.”
Chief Alvery Paul, Esgenoôpetitj First Nation
- The Elsipogtog and Esgenoôpetitj First Nations are the two largest Mi‘kmaq communities in New Brunswick, representing over 60% of the Mi’kmaq population in the province.
In early 2019, the Elsipogtog and Esgenoôpetitj First Nations agreed to discussions on fisheries as part of a broader reconciliation process led by the Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs.
- Discussions were undertaken 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.
Office of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans
and the Canadian Coast Guard
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Director of Communications Northern
Office of the Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations
Crown-Indigenous Relations and Affairs Canada