Premier John Hamm is pleased with the progress being made in discussions now underway on treaty rights and related issues and expects a framework agreement to be signed with Nova Scotia’s First Nations soon. “My government believes that issues surrounding aboriginal and treaty rights are best addressed outside the courts,” said Premier Hamm at a Treaty Day ceremony at Province House today, Sept. 30. “We hope this process will strengthen a long-term relationship, based on mutual respect and understanding.” The provincial government, the Mi’kmaq and the government of Canada have been in discussions on a framework agreement since 2003. The framework agreement will outline how the made-in-Nova Scotia negotiations will be conducted and the subjects to be discussed. “We expect the agreement to be signed soon and it will be an important step towards fulfilling our commitments under the umbrella agreement of June 2002,” said Premier Hamm. Also attending today’s ceremony were Phil Fontaine, National Chief of Assembly of First Nations, and Grand Chief Ben Sylliboy. The Treaty Day ceremony began 19 years ago with the signing of a proclamation by then Grand Chief Donald Marshall and former premier John Savage. The day marks the beginning of Mi’kmaq History Month in Nova Scotia. There are 13 Mi’kmaq First Nations in Nova Scotia with an on-reserve population of 8,514 according to 2003 statistics.