***UPDATED: Belledune Port Authority signs historic agreement with N.B. Mi'gmaq communities
The Belledune Port Authority has signed a historic agreement with New Brunswick's Mi'gmaq communities.
The first-of-its-kind Canada-First nations agreement, signed Thursday in Saint John, is a set of relationship, engagement and consultation protocols.
The agreement is co-owned by both parties and recognizes the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Aboriginal and Treaty rights of the Mi'gmaq People as confirmed in section 35 of the Constitution Act, and by decisions of the Courts of Canada.
Pabineau First Nations Chief David Peter-Paul says the agreement means there is now a process in place ensuring anyone operating at the Port will be respectful of the rights of the local people.
He says it represents an important step in community and business leadership and that First Nations communities are proud to be co-owners of the agreement and have important contributions to make to economic development.
Port president and CEO Denis Caron, meanwhile, says the Port recognizes the heritage of its First Nations neighbours with the territory and the importance of their inclusion in the growth of the provincial economy.
Saint John was the venue for the signing of several treaties between Mi'gmaq and British officials in the 1700s and is recognized as a respectful venue for the signing of the protocol.