Understanding Indigenous Matters

The Province of Prince Edward Island (the Province) is committed to advancing reconciliation with the Mi’kmaq of Prince Edward Island (Mi’kmaq of PEI), in a manner consistent with Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.

Reconciliation and other measures

What is “reconciliation”?

Reconciliation refers to the reconciliation of pre-existing Indigenous societies with the sovereignty of the Crown. In practice, this means reconciling Indigenous interests, which are protected under Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, with the broader public interest.

What measures are involved in the pursuit of “reconciliation”?

Reconciliation can take many forms. Historically, treaties have provided a method of reconciling Indigenous interests and practices with the broader public interest. However, treaties are not the only method of reconciliation. Processes that support consultation, funding that supports Indigenous rights, and arrangements that allow for the exercise of Aboriginal and treaty rights within the broader Canadian regulatory framework, are all examples of reconciliation.  

What is a treaty?

Treaties are constitutionally protected agreements, which set out how Indigenous peoples can exercise their Aboriginal and treaty rights, and how governments and Indigenous organizations will work together. Treaties provide greater certainty for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples and help to provide specificity and clarity regarding Aboriginal rights.

What is the Province doing to advance reconciliation?

The Province is working together with Canada and the Mi’kmaq of PEI on steps to further reconciliation. These steps are aimed at negotiating a modern treaty and developing non-treaty measures to protect Aboriginal rights, and promote greater self-determination and socio-economic advancement for the Mi’kmaq of PEI.

Why is it important?

The Province is required, under the Constitution Act, 1982, to respect Aboriginal and treaty rights and advance reconciliation. The Province represents all Islanders, and has an interest in improving socio-economic conditions Islanders, including for the Mi’kmaq of PEI. By participating in a trilateral process with Canada and the Mi’kmaq of PEI, the Province hopes to fulfill its legal obligations, while working to advance the interests of all Islanders, including the socio-economic condition of the Mi’kmaq of PEI.

What are the costs?

The costs associated with treaty and non-treaty negotiations are not yet known. The Province will pay its own costs associated with negotiating treaty and non-treaty measures. The negotiation costs of the Mi’kmaq of PEI may be funded in part by the Province.

The costs of a future treaty settlement and non-treaty measures are not yet known. These costs may be borne by the Province and Canada. 

Treaty process

There are four stages to the treaty process, as follows:

  • Stage 1: Negotiation of a Framework Agreement
    • The Government of Canada, the Province of Prince Edward Island and the Mi'kmaq of PEI have completed this stage which lays the groundwork for Stage 2.
  • Stage 2: Negotiation of An Agreement In Principle
  • Stage 3: Negotiation to Finalize a Treaty
  • Stage 4: Implementation of the Treaty

How long does it take?

The time to negotiate a treaty will depend on the matters being negotiated and the preferences and actions of the parties. Treaties are typically hundreds of pages in length, covering dozens of subjects. It is common for treaty negotiations to exceed ten years.

Who is involved?

The Province, the Government of Canada, and the Mi’kmaq Confederacy of Prince Edward Island, representing the MI’kmaq of PEI, are involved in negotiating a treaty.

What is the role of the Province?

The Province represents the interests of all Islanders, including those of the Mi’kmaq of PEI. The Province seeks to advance meaningful and lasting reconciliation while promoting the interests of all Islanders.

Treaty implications

A treaty has implications for both Indigenous Peoples and Islanders.

What are the implications of a treaty for Indigenous Peoples?

A treaty could replace Indian Act-imposed band governments with a to-be-developed government authority, which represents all citizens of a Nation.

A treaty could define who is eligible for membership in the Nation. Eligibility criteria will likely require that an individual be of First Nation ancestry connected to the Nation or accepted as a citizen of the Nation.

All citizens of a First Nation can vote on accepting a treaty. 

What are the implications of a treaty for Islanders?

A treaty may provide greater certainty for all Islanders. Matters such as the Mi’kmaq of PEI’s asserted Aboriginal title and the exercise of Aboriginal and treaty rights, including fishing rights, can be addressed and formalized, reducing present uncertainty.

A treaty may also provide socio-economic benefits to the Mi’kmaq of PEI and positive socio-economic externalities for all Islanders.

Published date: 
January 16, 2019
Executive Council Office

General Inquiries

Indigenous Relations Secretariat
2nd Floor
3 Brighton Road
Charlottetown, PE C1A 8T6

Phone: 902-368-6895
Fax: 902-569-7545