MONCTON (GNB) – An Indigenous economic development roundtable was held today in Moncton. Participants included Mi’kmaq, Wolastoq and Peskotomuhkati chiefs and ministers of the provincial and federal governments.

The concept for the roundtable emerged from earlier conversations among chiefs and ministers in Miramichi. Its goal is to honour the commitment to work together to advance economic opportunities in all New Brunswick communities.

Participants agreed that collaborative efforts to promote investment certainty and First Nation partnerships will enhance investor confidence and generate better economic opportunities. All agreed that having strong local/municipal and Indigenous community economies and partnerships will help to create jobs for all New Brunswickers.

The chiefs and ministers agreed to continue their collaboration. One of their next priorities will be to explore new economic development initiatives taking into consideration the Atlantic Growth Strategy and issues of importance identified by Indigenous communities and the provincial government.

“I am encouraged by today’s roundtable and the opportunity for ongoing collaboration with our federal and Indigenous partners for a strong New Brunswick economy,” said Treasury Board President Roger Melanson, who is also the minister responsible for aboriginal affairs. “I am excited to take a more innovative approach towards creating a climate of investment certainty and predictability by working more closely together.”

“Today's discussion highlights the benefits of a strong, positive‎ and lasting collaboration with Indigenous and provincial partners,” said federal Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott. “I know that, by working together, we are supporting healthy, successful and economically prosperous Indigenous communities across New Brunswick.”

“The Mi’kmaq of New Brunswick welcome the opportunity to have meaningful dialogue with Canada, New Brunswick and New Brunswick First Nations in regard to rebuilding our economies by creating the conditions necessary for Indigenous economic success, including access to land in key locations, investment for skills and innovation, and collaboration between federal, provincial, business and First Nations partners,” said Chief George Ginnish, co-chair of the non-profit organization Mi’gmawe’l Tplu’taqnn. “Inclusion, co-management, co-development and revenue sharing need to be the norm, not the exception. These pillars of Indigenous economic development need to be the best and standard practice. Double-digit unemployment, 40-per cent food insecurity and an underutilized youth population are not acceptable. Investment in First Nations is investing in Canada and recognizes that the sharing envisioned by our Peace and Friendship Treaties is the only path forward.”

“Our lands, our waters, our treaties and our relationships are sacred,” said Tobique First Nation Chief Ross Perley. “If we are to build and promote successful First Nation communities and economic prosperity, we must work in partnership. Our youth, our elders, the Wolastoqey and other Indigenous communities across New Brunswick demand and expect this leadership so that the benefits from our territories can be enjoyed by all, not just governments and industry.”

“We have a unique opportunity to build relationships and a common future for all people in New Brunswick with the participation of the Peskotomuhkatiq and other New Brunswick Indigenous communities,” said Chief Hugh Akagi of the Peskotomuhkati Nation at Skutik. “Today's discussion on promoting community and economic prosperity is a small part of the conversation but it is an important starting point on this nation-building journey. Together we can rebuild our communities, our culture and our relationships so we can build a better future for our youth.”