The provincial government violated an agreement with First Nation peoples when it arbitrarily decided to locate a new jail in Pictou County, the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs say.

“It is clear that this political decision was made without consultation with the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia,” the Assembly co-chairs wrote in recent correspondence to Justice Minister Ross Landry.

In a press release issued this week by the Assembly, the chiefs say the decision to locate a new 100-cell jail in Coalburn near New Glasgow violates the Consultation Terms of Reference Agreement signed Aug. 31 between the Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq, the Province of Nova Scotia and the Government of Canada.

The release said on Oct. 6, the Assembly received a formal request for consultation from the Department of Justice in regard to the proposed jail facility.

“‘We would appreciate a response to this letter by October 21, 2010; and, we require a response on the proposed project by December 17, 2010,’” the Assembly said, of a letter it received from the Justice Department.

After discussions with an official from the province, a formal reply expressing interest to further discussions on the matter was sent to the Department of Justice.

However, the Nova Scotia Chiefs were “shocked and dismayed” when Landry went ahead with the announcement on the jail Nov. 1 without waiting for a response from the Assembly.