Association selects executive and creates a Micmac Rights defence fund to support those targeted in the exercise of their rights.
MILLBROOK FN – On January 28th, 2023, the Micmac Rights Association held its second biannual meeting in the Millbrook First Nation community hall. The meeting, which went from 10am to 4pm, was a great success, and more than 40 members participated. The first and most lengthy part of the meeting consisted of introductions from those present. Participants came from nine different Micmac* communities including Eel River Bar, Elsipogtog, Eskasoni, Indian Brook, Listuguj, Membertou, Millbrook, Pictou Landing, and Whycocomagh.
Those present at the meeting shared many common problems: oppression by unaccountable Indian Act Band Councils, raids by Provincial tax agents on their cannabis and tobacco stores, the dangers of the province opening up liquor stores on reserve, charges from the Department of Fishery and Oceans, etc. The crowd had a good mix of elders and youth present, and included several hereditary chiefs and Keptin’s as well as some former Indian Act chiefs. Former National Chief Del Riley, who negotiated the inclusion of Sections 25 and 35 in the Canadian Constitution to protect Aboriginal and Treaty Rights, was also present.
After the introductions, the group broke for a lunch provided by High Grade Smoke Shop. Putus Hector Pictou and Albert Marshall Jr. then gave a report about their attendance at a December 11th, 2022 meeting in Six Nations that was held to rekindle the 1701 Council Fire or Beaver Bowl treaty. The “Great Peace of 1701” put an end to over a hundred years of warfare between Iroquois and Algonquin people, and was attended by over 1300 delegates from 37 different Indigenous nations. The gathering in Six Nations, which was attended by over 90 traditional people, was intended to provide a framework for the exertion of Aboriginal and Treaty Rights outside of the Indian Act system in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence region.
In other business, a membership form on the www.micmacrights.com website was approved as a means by which new members could join the association. Upon filling out the form, members may then join the group chat where association business is discussed between meetings and receive support from the group.
Another major decision made at the meeting was the creation a donation fund to support association members who have been raided by police in the exercise of their inherent rights (including fishing, hunting, and trading tobacco, cannabis etc.) The fund is to be administered as a trust by a lawyer, and will be used to recompense members for the property and products stolen by police, and to provide them with resources needed in their legal and political struggles.
Association Members who have had their rights violated by Canadian government entities are encouraged to fill out a form on the www.MicmacRights.com website, and if they meet the criteria, they will be added to a list of beneficiaries who will be paid out through the trust fund. A full accounting of the fund will be provided by lawyer Jack Lloyd for every biannual meeting. Association members were enthusiastic about the fund and a number of businesspeople present offered to make generous contributions.
In terms of future events, the Association agreed to organize a speaking tour and book launch tour for Chief Del Riley’s autobiography The Last President in the spring. The intention is to organize the tour in such a way as to reach all Micmac communities and to provide an educational and organizational forum to build awareness about Aboriginal and Treaty Rights and to encourage people to join the Association.
The next biannual meeting of the Association is scheduled in the groups constitution to be held on Saturday, August 26th. However some members suggested the meeting should be moved to April to keep up momentum. The exact plan for organizing Chief Riley’s tour and the next meeting of the Association will be decided by the executive of the organization.
The Micmac Rights Association executive was selected by consensus of those present and will lead the Association for the next year. Chris Googoo was selected as the group’s spokesperson, Jessica Haji Mohamad was selected as the treasurer, and the following members were selected as executive members at large: Matt Cope, Steven Googoo, Michelle Lantz, Albert Marshall Jr., and Hector Pictou. Since the meeting, the executive committee decided to add William Paul to represent Membertou and Cody Caplin to assist Hector Pictou in participating in executive meetings.
The biannual meeting followed a day of rallies by Association members at police stations in Eskasoni and Sydney, and a speaking event by Chief Riley in Membertou. The next planned events for the Micmac Rights Association are a public meeting on Micmac fishing rights on February 14th, and a demonstration in support of fisherman Daniel Francis at the Dartmouth Courthouse on February 15th at 8:30am.
Note: We are using the older spelling of Micmac rather than the more recently introduced Mi’kmaq spelling in accordance with a request from former National Chief for the Atlantic Region and Putus Hector Pictou, who explained that it was only after the Marshall decision, that the term Micmac became spelled as Mi’kmaq. According to Putus, “The term Micmac is ours. It didn’t come from a court transcript, it’s our every day way to spell our identity, and it is the name on the treaties that were signed with our sovereign ancestors.”