Memorandum of Understanding on Reconciliation with the Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach: Video

Memorandum of Understanding on Reconciliation with the Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach


Moderator: Hello everyone. I would like to extend a warm welcome to the participants who will be participating in the virtual signing of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) on the recognition of Indigenous rights and determination with the Naskapi Nation, and Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, and Chief Noah Swappie.

Matthew Mameanskum: (Naskapi language)

Moderator: (Naskapi language)

Chief Noah Swappie: (Naskapi language)

Okay, thank you everyone. And I'm quite honoured to be here, at this signing of this MOU. It is a pleasure to see you all here today on Zoom, which is running on our new state-of-the-art fibre optic network. While I am happy that this technology has made our meeting today possible, I look forward to welcoming you in person in Kawawachikamach when we can all travel safe, safely again.

As you may be aware, 2018 marked the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Northeastern Québec Agreement (NEQA) between Canada, Québec and the Naskapi Nation. The NEQA provided the powerful tool for recognizing specific rights and benefits for all Naskapi, and an excellent framework for ensuring the provision of essential services to our community.

With all this in mind, council was pleased to learn in February of 2019 of Canada's openness to establish a recognition of Indigenous rights and self-determination discussion table with our nation to revisit the NEQA and explore new ways for recognizing our rights as well as promoting the Naskapi vision of self-determination. Since this time, since that time, and after more than a year of positive and constructive discussions with representatives, we are here today to sign an MOU that maps out a framework for our negotiations.

In closing, I believe that today will be remembered as a significant first step towards a lasting reconciliation between the Naskapi Nation and Canada. I also believe that with the commitment of all parties to work in an open and constructive manner, we will succeed in developing the structures necessary to empower the Naskapi Nation to exercise its autonomy on the land set aside for it's exclusive use and benefit, as well as our traditional territory where we have lived and stewarded the land since time immemorial.

Thank you. (Naskapi language)

Hon. Carolyn Bennett: (Naskapi language) Greetings. Bonjour.

I do wish I could be there with you in person, however we come together virtually in the spirit of partnership and I really thank elder Matthew Mameanskum for the opening prayer in your beautiful language and for starting this important occasion in such a good way. This is an opportunity to reflect on what's been achieved through our efforts to further reconciliation, as the Chief has said, and to look at what we can and will achieve as we move forward together as, as the Chief has said, in an open and constructive manner.

I do want to thank Chief Swappie and members of the Council of Kawawachikamach and for all you've done for your community to help make this happen, including the fibre optics, Chief. This is really impressive.

So, this MOU provides a foundation, as you've said, Chief, for us to work together in partnership so that we can build back better after COVID-19, socially, environmentally and economically. And for you, the Naskapi Nation, this memorandum of understanding supports your path to closing those socioeconomic gaps and to furthering reconciliation and self-determination.

We will continue to seek and find the shared and balanced solutions that will advance reconciliation in a way that respects your rights and interests as we move forward, as you have outlined so eloquently, Chief.

Moderator: I would like to invite Carolyn Bennett and Noah Swappie to sign the memorandum of understanding on recognition of Indigenous rights and self-determination.

Matthew Mameanskum: (Naskapi language)


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