HALIFAX NS- Halifax is taking the first steps toward designating a Mi’kmaq seat on its municipal council.
The move is something that’s been in discussion for years after hearing from First Nations in the Halifax area that a Mi’kmaq representative should be added to council, Indigenous community liaison and councillor Waye Mason said Tuesday.
“We need to make sure we never lose sight of our treaty obligations and that we’re considering those who are the original inhabitants of this land,” Mason said in an interview.
On Monday, Halifax Regional Municipality’s executive standing committee recommended that council vote on a proposal to ask the provincial government for a change to its charter to allow for a new designated seat.
“If we’re going to live out truth and reconciliation, and if we’re going to recognize the Peace and Friendship Treaties, that calls for shared governance of this land and recognition that we are active partners in the treaty,” Mason said.
He expects council will approve making a formal request to the province, and he hopes the legislature could change the charter as early as next spring.
From there, Mason said the plan would be to conduct consultations with Indigenous leaders, including the three First Nations within the Halifax Regional Municipality, in order to establish a plan for how voting and candidacy for the seat would work.
Mason said it’s too early to say if the new designated council seat could be created in time for the next municipal election in October 2024, but that would be “ideal.”
“If this is something we value, and it’s something I value, we should work really hard to try and make it happen as fast as possible,” he said.
Chiefs from Acadia, Sipekne’katik and Millbrook First Nations were not immediately available for comment, nor were representatives from the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre in Halifax.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 24, 2023.