Lead Contact:  Dawn McDonald, Tripartite Liaison

The Tripartite Forum was formed in 1997 as a partnership between the Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq, the Province of Nova Scotia and the Government of Canada, to strengthen relationships and resolve issues of mutual concern affecting Mi’kmaw communities.

Under this agreement the Nova Scotia Native Women’s Association has a Tripartite Liaison to represent the association at the steering level. The Liaison is a member of the Tripartite Steering Committee, whose purpose is to provide organizational direction and operational support to the Tripartite Forum. The Liaison will ensure representation of the Nova Scotia Native Women’s Association and the work that the Association provides at all levels of the Forum.

The Forum is comprised of the following committee levels – Executive, Officials, Steering and Working Committees. Each level has representation from each of the three parties: The Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq, The Province of Nova Scotia and The Government of Canada. All parties agree to work together without prejudice and by consensus to discuss and resolve issues of mutual concern. The NSNWA has a representative assigned to each committee.

The NSNWA Liaison works closely with the NSNWA Representatives assigned to each of the seven working committee and Executive and Official’s Committees to ensure that the issues of the NSNWA are heard and find resolution.

Each committee have a specific role on operations of the Forum. As described in the Tripartite Forum Terms of Reference:

The Executive Committee is the highest level in the decision-making process in the Tripartite Forum. Final decisions are made at this level with consensus from all members. Decisions can overrule present policy, change future policy, initiate, and provide input to legislative change if necessary. All Tripartite committees require approval from the Executive Committee in their formation, mandate, and resolutions.

The Officials Committee receives options and recommendations from the Working Committees and offers decisions within its authority and policy. The Officials Committee approves the Working Committees’ mandates and provides direction as stated by the Executive Committee.

The purpose of the Steering Committee is to focus on the overall relationship between the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia and the provincial and federal governments as it relates to issues being discussed within each of the Tripartite Forum’s Working Committees. The mandate of the Steering Committee shall be to provide organizational and operational support for the Tripartite Forum and to provide the three parties with a mechanism to resolve organizational and process issues related to the Forum.

The Tripartite Forum includes seven Working Tables. Each table discusses issues, develops solutions and suggests actions to resolve issues of mutual concern for Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq. Issues are identified through research and community concerns.

The NSNWA Representation at each of the Tripartite Committees:

  • Executive Committee: Bernadette Marshall, NSNWA President
  • Officials Committee: Karen Pictou, NSNWA Executive Director
  • Steering Committee: Dawn McDonald, Tripartite Liaison

The Working Committees and the Representatives:

  • Education: Justine Maloney, Employment & Economic Development Coordinator
  • Economic Development: Justine Maloney, Employment & Economic Development Coordinator
  • Culture and Heritage: Leah Doucette, Cultural Activities Worker (Interim)
  • Sports and Recreation: Ellen Marshall, Events Manager/Public Relations Officer
  • Health: Suzanne Brooks, Wellness Advisor
  • Social: Paula Robinson, Mainland Covid Coordinator
  • Justice: Mary Jane Abram, NSNWA Legal Advisory

In 2006, the St. Mary’s University Business Development Centre, did a review of the Tripartite Forum. This was a request made at the 2005 Annual General Assembly. The purpose was to identify how the Forum could improve operations and effectiveness of the work being done. The Tripartite Project Fund was established as part of the recommendations from this review. The goal was to provide resources for projects that do not fit within an existing program; for which there is no other funding available; or to leverage other funding. The Fund is jointly funded by Nova Scotia (Office of Aboriginal Affairs) and Canada (Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada) and administered and managed by the Tripartite Forum Secretariat. 

For more information on the Tripartite Forum, Project Fund and roles of the committees along with Committee work plans and membership please visit