Nova Scotia Micmac Aboriginal Rights Position Paper

Publisher:  Union of Nova Scotia Indians, The Micmac News, Canada
Year Published:  1977  
Pages:  44pp   Price:  2.00  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX500

This tabloid edition of a position paper presented to the Federal Government in 1977 was signed by twelve chiefs representing the Union of Nova Scotia Indians.

Abstract:  This tabloid edition of a position paper presented to the Federal Government in 1977 was signed by twelve chiefs representing the Union of Nova Scotia Indians. It argues that "the Micmacs of Nova Scotia have occupied and used the land and resources of the province of Nova Scotia from time immemorial; they have not received compensation for nor have they negotiated for the loss of use of those lands and resources."

The paper begins by outlining the prehistoric evidence of ancestors to today's Micmacs occupying and using the land of Nova Scotia. The existence of such settlements can be dated to Debert, N.S. as early as 10,000 B.C., the earliest periglacial settlement know in North America. The position paper details the history of these peoples and the structure of their society through several thousands of years of history including their relationships in later times with the early European settlers. It is clear that throughout this entire period the Indians, through their way of life, occupied the area now know as Nova Scotia and used its resources to maintain themselves.

An extended exposition of Indian relationships with European settlers discusses the legal question of how Indian legal rights to land ownership and land use have been dealt with. It is clear that it was generally the policy never to take possession of Indian land unless it had been properly ceded through purchase or treaty. This is enshrined in a Royal Proclamation of 1763. Several court cases in Canada have determined the extent and nature of aboriginal rights using this proclamation. This study argues that this recognition of aboriginal rights, generally enshrined in common law, and explicitated in the Proclamation, applies as well to the Micmacs of Nova Scotia. Finally a judgment of Chief Justice MacKeigan of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court in November of 1975 is cited in its entirely to this effect.

The aboriginal rights claimed by the Micmacs cover a wide range of areas: increased land base, exemption for all taxation, royalties on previously discovered or future minerals or other resources as well as the right to unhindered hunting, fishing and trapping. It includes claims for resources necessary to provide for the economic, social and cultural development of the tribes as well as for education, medical care and local government.

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