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'We will blockade': FSIN chiefs threaten action in response to Saskatchewan First Act


More than 30 first nation chiefs from across the province gathered in Saskatoon Friday to denounce the recently introduced Saskatchewan First Act and threaten action beyond meetings and negotiations.

"We're about to the point where we start blockading," Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) Bobby Cameron said.

Chiefs gathered at the FSIN offices on Friday said the act breaches inherent treaty rights, and blockades are being organized in the new year, but none of the chiefs would say specifically when or where they will be placed.

"Let's enjoy a good Christmas, a good break, rest up and let's get at 'em in the new year," Chief Evan Taypotat of Kahkewistahaw First Nation said. "Because enough is enough."

The Saskatchewan First Act was introduced in November after years of struggles between the province and Ottawa surrounding Saskatchewan's autonomy.

The province said the act confirms "Saskatchewan's autonomy and exclusive jurisdiction over its natural resources."

"This historic legislation will help protect our economic growth and prosperity from intrusive federal policies that encroach upon our legislative sovereignty," Justice Minister Bronwyn Eyre said in a news release announcing the act.

Cameron is galvanizing support for chiefs not just opposing the bill itself, but everything it could stand for moving forward.

"Because we want to ensure our future generations are left with something. That they're left with a better life than we have had," Cameron said.

Chief Margaret Bear of Ochapawace First Nation said the treaties in place were agreed with the Crown and predate the province. Before the province tries getting its share of natural resource revenue, it should honour the treaties.

"We are the original rate holders of this land. No policy or act is going to tell us different. We will not sit back by the sidelines while two foreign parties continue to steal our resources from our backyard," Bear said.

"And Saskatchewan has the gall to think they have the rights and exclusive ownership of our natural resources."

Cameron said legal action is also being pursued as FSIN is working on a statement of claim, which could take "several years" to work its way through the justice system.

Many of the chiefs here mentioned the provincial Natural Resources Transfer Agreement from the 1930 and the federal 1969 white paper, which proposed to eliminate Indian status, as two damaging pieces of legislation in the past.

These Chiefs see similarities between those and the Saskatchewan First Act as the latest piece of legislation to attack inherent treaty rights.

"This Bill asserts the exclusive jurisdiction of Saskatchewan over laws with respect to matters set out in sections 92 and 92A and does not restrict or limit existing First Nations rights," a statement from the provincial government said. Top Stories

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