With the stroke of a pen on Treaty Day in Halifax, a commitment was made by the province and the Mi’kmaq to ensure that all Nova Scotians will gain a greater understanding of our shared treaty relationship.
Elders, Chiefs, Mi’kmaq Grand Council members, provincial government representatives and many other Mi’kmaw community members were all on hand to witness the signing of what is known as the Treaty Education Nova Scotia Memorandum of Understanding.
This important new partnership will focus on the development of Treaty Education for students, teachers, public servants and the general public.
Chief Leroy Denny, Chair of Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey declared, “Today we have begun to plant the seeds of justice and responsibility, so that future generations will understand our shared history and shared responsibility in Nova Scotia.”
Chief Denny would go on to say that Treaty Day 2015 signified the start of “a journey towards ensuring that Mi’kmaq Contributions will be highlighted and taught by all teachers, in all grades, in all schools.”
“We are all Treaty People”, acknowledged Premier Stephen McNeil to a large round of applause from the participants, many of whom recognized that this was the first Premier of Nova Scotia to make that statement.
Premier McNeil also stated, “Our government caucus will be the first to take you up on the opportunity to come into our caucus and actually educate us. Before we start with our children, let’s start with those of us who are privileged to be in leadership roles in this province.”
On hand for the announcement were Karen Casey, Minister of Education and Eleanor Bernard, Executive Director of MK, who’s conversations in early 2015 led to the creation of a Treaty Education Implementation Committee which hammered out the details of the MOU.
“We are very excited to be included in the changes made to the curriculum for Treaty Education”, said Bernard. “We are looking forward to being an important part of this process.”
As part of the MOU, the provincial mandate authorized the Treaty Education Implementation Committee (TEIC) to work over the next few months to create a work-plan. “Over the next few months there will be a lot of engagement with key knowledge holders to begin the process of reconciliation,” explained Jaime Battiste, Chair of the Treaty Education Implementation Committee and Treaty Education Lead for Nova Scotia. “ The TEIC have prioritized raising awareness, seeking direction and setting the working foundation for Treaty Education moving forward in Nova Scotia ”.
Many of the dignitaries on hand such as Grand Keptin Andrew Denny, and Chief Terry Paul, Co-Chair of the Assembly of Nova Scotia Chiefs, acknowledged in their speeches the historic impact that this signing meant to the Mi’kmaq moving forward.
Engagements are planned with Elders, Academics and the Mi’kmaq Grand Council in the coming months to lay the foundation for the development of Treaty Education resources. Treaty Education Nova Scotia Facebook has also been set up to share information, lectures, and any news on upcoming events involving Treaty Education.