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FSIN says Saskatchewan First Act interferes with Treaty lands, calls for its rejection

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The Assembly of First Nations National Chief says she supports First Nations leaders and is calling for an emergency resolution to reject the Saskatchewan First Act and the Alberta Sovereignty Within a United Canada Act before the bills become legislation.

“These two acts are really seeking to extend provincial authority into federal and Treaty jurisdiction, and therefore are interfering with treaty lands,” said Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Chief RoseAnne Archibald

The Saskatchewan First Act would allow the province to claim exclusive jurisdiction over natural resources and development.

AFN Chief Archibald and First Nations leaders from Treaty Six and Treaty Seven are prompting the province address their concerns and support an emergency resolution titled, the Rejection of the Saskatchewan First and Alberta Sovereignty with a United Canada Act. They described their position at a press conference Wednesday morning in Ottawa.

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations' (FSIN) third Vice-Chief Aly Bear spoke at a press conference alongside the AFN chief and chiefs from Treaty Six and Seven in Alberta.

“There hasn't been any duty to consult. There hasn’t been a proper process when it comes to speaking to our First Nations and discussing resource revenue sharing,” said Vice-Chief Bear.

She is prompting the federal government to stand with FSIN to oppose the act.

“Because Treaties are with the Crown and those relationship are sacred and we have to need to continue to ensure we are honouring those Treaties,” she said.

Saskatchewan’s Minister of Justice Bronwyn Eyre says nothing in the bill “diminishes” from Section 35 of the Constitution to protect Treaty rights, and the duty to consult is engrained in existing legislation. Eyre said the act was about protecting the economy.

“There was nothing new that was really being undertaken here in terms of First Nations rights, certainly, other than asserting jurisdiction over natural resources, which benefits everyone in the province,” said Erye.

She says Bill 92-A was used to argue against the federal government to oppose carbon tax, and the Saskatchewan First Act will help quantify irrefutable harm.

“This really is about protecting natural resources and everything that we can achieve together, together with First Nations and together as a province and that's where we stand,” said Erye when the act was first introduced on November 1.

To date, the provinces of Quebec, Alberta, and Saskatchewan have introduced sovereignty acts.

“This is going to be a domino effect so I call on the federal government to stand with us, because the Treaties are with us because the treaties are with the crown, and those relationships are sacred,” said FSIN third Vice-Chief Aly Bear.

Saskatchewan First Act passed its second reading in the legislature on Monday.

The Saskatchewan First Act asserts the province's exclusive jurisdiction under the Constitution of Canada in the areas of exploration of non-renewable natural resources, the development, conservation and management of renewable and non-renewable resources, and the operation of sites and facilities to generate electricity.

Bear says in the spirit of reconciliation First Nations should have been consulted before tabling an act of this nature, and the province has done little to include them in the process of natural resource development.

“We’re asking the government to sit down with us and to have conversations. Let’s talk about moving forward together,” said Bear. 

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