Sask. Party, NDP lay out approaches on strengthening Indigenous relationships
SASKATOON -- Sask. Party leader Scott Moe says he is proud of the partnerships his party has made with Indigenous people over the years. He says he sees true reconciliation done through the economy.
“It needs to come with economic independence,” said Moe, pointing to the framework agreement between the province and the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority (SIGA) but also the forestry management agreements made in places in the north like Big River.
“(SIGA) has created jobs right across the province and it has created the opportunity for dollars to become available to invest in communities that are Indigenous as well as other communities. It is a strong relationship that is benefitting youth athletics and it’s supporting Indigenous people through careers and investments,” added Moe.
According to the Sask. Party’s 2020 platform, the party has earmarked $213 million in the 2020-21 provincial budget for Indigenous communities, businesses and organizations.
$45 million was provided for Emergency Pandemic Supports for First Nations and Metis organizations because of COVID-19 related casino closures.
$14.5 million was also provided to Northern Medical Services to help with physicians and specialists in communities across the north.
The party is also moving ahead with its year one of the Pillars for Life Suicide Prevention Plan at a cost of $1.2 million.
“We need to continue to work with our Indigenous communities and our Indigenous people across the province. The record of this party has been strong,” said Moe.
NDP leader Ryan Meili said his party will facilitate on reconciliation rather than be a barrier and commit $10 million to act on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action.
“That means building strong relationships with First Nation and Metis leaders and it means coming to the table with the province taking a leadership role to call the federal and First Nations and Metis government together,” said Meili at a NDP campaign announcement in Prince Albert.
Meili said if he becomes the next premier, he will also close the gaps in health, employment, justice and education between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.
“We know those gaps are hurting Indigenous people. They are also holding back the entire province. It’s time for us to take the steps and make the investments to close those gaps today. We will take reconciliation seriously and actually want to do the work instead of a government that will continuously pass the buck and avoid the difficult conversations and questions,” said Meili.
Bobby Cameron, chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) encourages each party to continue building on relationships with Indigenous people, adding Indigenous people contribute $1 to $2 billion a year in the Saskatchewan economy.
“We are a big part of this economy. We are a major player to keep many of the towns and city businesses and families living a good life off of (Indigenous) money,” said Cameron.
Cameron also encourages every Indigenous person to get out and vote with a strong message.
“Sure the (Sask. Party and NDP) don’t represent us, they don’t speak for us but they are talking about us and they’re making decisions that do affect First Nations people,” said Cameron.
Cameron says whichever party is elected, he wants First Nations people at the decision-making table.
“You must have First Nation representation. We will give you good solutions. We are more than happy to give you our position and you’re going to get a lot more progress done and you’re going to see better results for everybody,” said Cameron.
Andrea Landry, a teacher at the First Nations University who resides in Poundmaker Cree Nation says she will not vote in this year’s provincial election.
“My personal choice is to not participate in the colonial, political system in regards to voting because what it comes down to is recognizing that I come from a sovereign nation as an Indigenous person and so me participating and voting would be like me participating and voting in a foreign nations political system,” said Landry, who made the decision 10 years ago.
Landry says she does it as an act of who she is and where she comes from as Indigenous nations.
“I think it’s a personal decision, a personal choice and the reality is, if you look at our chief and council systems for example, they are a colonial system, they are based on the premise and same foundations as any colonial, political group. We have our own governance systems and we utilized them for generations prior to colonization and they worked for us as the original peoples of this land and its about coming back to that.”