Aboriginal consultations will continue to improve through a stronger joint effort as Nova Scotia becomes the first province to sign a new agreement with the federal government. Premier Darrell Dexter, who is also and Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, and John Duncan, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development signed the first memorandum of understanding (MOU) on aboriginal consultation this month. The memorandum is a commitment between both governments to co-ordinate, share information, strengthen collaborative efforts and improve the efficiency of aboriginal consultation processes in the province. Similar agreements are in development with other provinces and territories. “This MOU is the first of its kind in Canada, further demonstrating Nova Scotia’s continued leadership and commitment on aboriginal consultation,” said Premier Dexter. “This agreement formalizes and strengthens our co-operative working relationship with the Mi’kmaq that has developed over the past several years of consultation.” “Our government is committed to creating the conditions for healthier, more self-sufficient First Nation communities,” said Mr. Duncan. “This unique MOU will help reduce overlap and duplication in federal and provincial efforts to consult with Aboriginal people in Nova Scotia, making consultations with the Mi’kmaq stronger and more effective.” The memorandum follows the landmark tripartite Mi’kmaq-Nova Scotia-Canada Consultation Terms of Reference, finalized on Aug. 31, 2010. This agreement is used by Canada and Nova Scotia to consult, in a more efficient and effective manner, with the Mi’kmaq on proposed activities or projects that affect them. The memorandum and terms of reference, along with the government of Canada’s March, 2011 Updated Guidelines for Federal Officials to Fulfill the Legal Duty to Consult, are tools to assist the Crown in fulfilling the legal duty to consult.