The Micmac Nation of Gespeg Council welcomes the announcement of the federal government injecting an additional $ 75 million to help Indigenous peoples living off reserve and within urban centers, to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We deduce that the announcement by Prime Minister Trudeau is a positive response to the many requests we have made to the Minister of Aboriginal Services, Marc Miller and the member for Gaspésie— Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Diane Lebouthillier to correct our discriminatory situation. We believe that our voice, coupled with the many other communities that have been left behind in Canada, has weighed in the balance. We are impatiently waiting for the promised aid to actualize. These funds are necessary to ensure the health and safety of our members, as well as to minimize the impact on our organization, “said Terry Shaw, Chief of the Micmac Nation Council of Gespeg.
Since the start of the health crisis, the Gespeg Council, which provides front-line services to its members, has faced closed doors and categorical refusals by federal officials in charge of the aid programs. These refusals are justified because the organizational structure of the Gespeg First Nation would not meet certain specific criteria since they are not being grouped together on a reserve.
However, the Council of the Micmac Nation of Gespeg is a government recognized by the federal government in the same way as the other First Nations in Canada. In times of crisis, the Council is the first entity to which its members turn to and are entitled to receive services tailored to their needs. Since the start of the crisis, the Council has deployed all of their resources to reduce the impact of containment measures on its members, in addition to providing all the relevant information and offering moral and material support to the hardest hit members.
The Micmac Nation of Gespeg is a Mi’gmaq First Nation made up of some 1,500 members, many of whom live on traditional non-ceded territory located in the Gaspé region. Its Council is recognized as a “band
council” within the meaning of the Indian Act, and as an autonomous government authority under the Canadian Constitution which is composed of a Chief and 9 elected councilors.