We’koqma’q First Nation leaves negotiation office

WE’KOQMA’Q FIRST NATION: Another Cape Breton First Nations community has made the decision to withdraw from the Kwilmu’kw Maw-klusuaqn Negotiation Office (KMKNO).

The Chief for We’koqma’q First Nation indicated the reason why she left was because she felt that their Mi’kmaq Nation is divided.

“It’s divided in a way that it creates a gap in strength and unity amongst us to keep forward, and believe in the good fight to stand up to the government,” Chief Annie Bernard-Daisley told The Reporter. “Who continues to, in my opinion, not listen to us, not take our recommendations, and continues to minimize who we are on many levels, not only as leaders – but as people.”

She suggested the Canadian government sees that gap within their own society where they have their inherent leaders, their environmentalists, their water protectors, their land protectors, their warriors, their grassrootss and their traditionalists ignored repeatedly by KMKNO and there is no communication from them.

“When you stand on the front lines and fight for justice and you fight for the rights for people you are a leader – you are a leader that should be respected,” Chief Bernard-Daisley said. “They are repeatedly being ignored causing a division amongst our society. We shouldn’t be divided.”

She said they have to move forward together and come together in a way where they work together and create a stronger force. We’koqma’q First Nation’s decision to leave the KMKNO isn’t forever.

“I believe in unity and I believe that they need to be restructured in a way that represents all of us as Indigenous Peoples in Nova Scotia,” Chief Bernard-Daisley said. “They have to come together to find a common ground that’ll work towards showing that they are truly there to fight for us and to stand up for us.”

Her decision means the KMKNO now represents nine of the 13 First Nation communities in Nova Scotia. Before Membertou withdrew in late October citing issues on the handling of the fishery portfolio, Sipekne’katik and Millbrook had also previously departed from this political organization.

“I feel as though if they were to restructure and continue to mend those relationships and strive to reach out to everybody in Nova Scotia then perhaps we will move together as a solid force,” Chief Bernard-Daisley said. “If I see KMKNO striving to reach out and trying to mend relationships amongst us, then perhaps I will go back but right now we’re not going back until we see those efforts being made.”

Unlike Membertou’s chief, Chief Bernard-Daisley still has confidence in the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs.

“I was selected as co-chair for the Assembly, which was a great honour but I turned it down,” she said. “I was only three-weeks into my term; I have a lot of learning to do, and a lot of ground to cover.”

An organization like KMKNO is required to listen to their people, Chief Bernard-Daisley said, all of their people have to be heard and they have to be united in a way.

“It’s not their fault they’re Mi’kmaq people as well,” she added. “So you have to think that there is something, a bigger issue going on. If they’re really fighting for our rights then fight for all of our rights not just a certain demographic.”