FREDERICTON (GNB) – A new working group will begin meeting soon to examine and address the Calls to Action identified in the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The All Nations and Parties Working Group on Truth and Reconciliation is a committee that includes members from the Mi’gmaq, Wolastoqey and Peskotomuhkati Nations and all four political parties represented in the legislative assembly. It will be co-chaired by Aboriginal Affairs Minister Arlene Dunn and Regional Chief Roger Augustine.

Dunn said that since the release of the report in 2015, the provincial government has identified and advanced a number of activities to implement the Calls to Action that are within the province’s jurisdiction. However, she said the establishment of the working group is an innovative approach that will provide the government with a greater understanding of the priorities of First Nations and ensure that initiatives are worked upon collaboratively.

“I am eager to get to work to ensure we bring forward meaningful change,” said Dunn. “I want this group to serve as an accountability body that provides a forum for meaningful and culturally relevant engagement.”

“This is a good start. There is much work to be accomplished to meet the objectives of the 94 Calls to Action,” said Augustine. “Honouring the past and reconciling the future should be every New Brunswickers’ agenda. Our people are long overdue for real work toward respecting our treaty rights. We will engage the process in peace and friendship.”

The working group will report to the Standing Committee on Social Policy, which is a permanent committee of the legislative assembly. Dunn said that reconciliation is an on-going process that requires a long-term commitment and a continuous focus on strengthening relationships. She said she anticipates that this structure will allow the working group to continue its work unimpeded by changes in government.

Joining Dunn and Augustine on the working group are Chief Rebecca Knockwood of the Mi’gmaq Nation, Chief Ross Perley of the Wolastoqey Nation, Chief Hugh Akagi of the Peskotomuhkati Nation at Skutik, President Barry Labillois of the New Brunswick Aboriginal Peoples Council (which represents off-reserve Indigenous people), St. Croix MLA Kathy Bockus, Miramichi Bay-Neguac MLA Lisa Harris, Green Party Leader David Coon and Miramichi MLA Michelle Conroy.

The group is expected to meet in the coming weeks.

The working group’s efforts will be supported by a guiding group of eight members. They are Elder Gordon Labillois of the Mi’gmaq Nation, Elder Ed Perley of the Wolastoqey Nation, Elder Donald Soctomah of Peskotomuhkati at Skutik Nation, Grand Chief Ron Tremblay representing the Wabanaki Grandmothers, Social Development Minister Bruce Fitch, Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries Minister Margaret Johnson, Fredericton MP Jenica Atwin and Cade Libby, the deputy minister of Aboriginal Affairs.