Ottawa, New Brunswick First Nation look to talks on major title claim

New Brunswick's Elsipogtog First Nation has signed a memorandum of understanding with Ottawa that could lead to negotiations on a Mi'kmaq claim of Aboriginal title to a third of the province.

Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett and Elsipogtog Chief Arren Sock said in a statement Thursday that they are working together to advance reconciliation.

Elsipogtog filed a court claim in 2016 seeking a declaration confirming the Mi'kmaq Nation holds Aboriginal title and treaty rights to a district it calls Sikniktuk, which covers southeastern New Brunswick.

The two sides say that under the memorandum, they will explore the possibility of entering into negotiations for the recognition and implementation of Mi'kmaq rights as well as the protection and management of the environment and natural resources in the area.

The First Nation has said the title claim was prompted by fears of clashes over shale gas exploration in the area.

More than 40 people were arrested in 2013 after a protest grew violent in nearby Rexton, N.B.