Government of New Brunswick

Mi'kmaq, Maliseet, Province of New Brunswick
Relationship Building Bilateral Agreement

The Province of New Brunswick and the Assembly of First Nations Chiefs of New Brunswick have reached a historic bilateral agreement, signed in the New Brunswick Legislative Assembly on Friday, June 22, 2007.

The Aboriginal Affairs Secretariat (AAS) initiated meetings with the 15 First Nations chiefs to build positive relationships and to develop a process that would allow for fair and open discussion on issues of mutual concern.

These meetings highlighted common goals between the parties and strategies were then developed to achieve the common goals in a fair and open manner.

The bilateral agreement provides a framework going forward for the First Nations communities of New Brunswick and the provincial government to deal with outstanding issues in a productive manner and with mutual respect.

The accord provides for regular quarterly meetings between government ministers and First Nation chiefs and for bi-annual meetings between chiefs and the premier to discuss issues arising from the process outlined in the agreement.

This new relationship is intended to be one of respect, good faith and partnership, and represents a commitment on the part of both levels of government to reconcile First Nations and Crown issues and jurisdictions.

Fostering a bilateral agreement with New Brunswick's First Nations is an element of the government's Charter for Change commitment to improve relationships, and was a key priority of its first Speech from the Throne in February 2007.

This historic accord also fulfills a recommendation of the Province's Self-Sufficiency Task Force, to move aggressively to pursue a forum for dialogue with Aboriginals and establish arrangements to address Aboriginal and treaty rights.

This agreement represents a watershed moment for both levels of government, and is the first step towards the establishment of a modern treaty relationship between the provincial government and Aboriginal communities.

While a tripartite accord involving the federal government will continued to be pursued, the bilateral process will allow the Province and New Brunswick First Nations to move much faster to address issues which do not involve the federal government.

This agreement is a means for the New Brunswick government and New Brunswick Aboriginal communities to work together to achieve strong governments, social justice and economy sustainability for First Nations, which will be of benefit to all New Brunswickers.