FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
GOVERNMENT ENACTED LAWS WHICH HAVE NOT MET THE LEGAL DUTY TO CONSULT AND ACCOMMODATE FIRST NATIONS WILL NOT BE RECOGNIZED ON FIRST NATIONS RESERVE AND TRADITIONAL LANDS
Edmonton, Alberta, Treaty Six Territory, December 17, 2012 – As Indigenous Nations, the Confederacy of Treaty No. 6 First Nations do not recognize laws and enactments of the Government of Canada, including but not limited to Bill C-45, which do not fulfill their constitutionally recognized and affirmed Treaty and Aboriginal rights; as well as the Crown’s legal obligations to meaningfully consult and accommodate First Nations. When all the conservatives legislation regarding or affecting First Nations is considered as a whole, it is clear sweeping changes are being introduced with scant consultation and sometimes with no consultation at all which will impact on how First Nations governments work and how our lands and waters are governed.
Grand Chief Craig Makinaw stated, “Harper’s government is not acting in good faith and is acting in a way that brings dishonour to the Crown. The Confederacy of Treaty No. 6 First Nations Chiefs call on the the Government of Canada to bring back the honour of Crown to the process and fulfill the legal duty to consult First Nations prior to any legislation or enactment which would impact on First Nations Treaty, Inherent and Aboriginal rights.”
An example of the violation of Indigenous and Treaty rights can be found in the parliamentary process on Bill C-45. On the 18th of October 2012, the Minister of Finance tabled Bill C-45. In the legislation were sections relating to changes to the Indian Act, the Fisheries Act, and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, and the Navigable Waters Act. The Chiefs received a letter from Minister Duncan on October 22nd, 2012 advising of these changes. “There was no prior discussion. There were no meetings. There was no request from the Treaty Peoples for these changes and we view these actions to be violations of the laws of Canada as it relates to Treaty Peoples,” stated Grand Chief Craig Makinaw.
The Chiefs are alarmed that the Government of Canada has greatly diminished the need to consider environmental impacts on First Nations water resources through changes to the Navigable Waters legislation within Bill C-45. Pipelines will now be able proceed across hundreds, even thousands of water course crossings without the necessary environmental scrutiny. These changes will increase the impact of development on First Nations Reserve lands, many of which rely on rivers and lakes to practice their Treaty rights to hunt, fish, trap and continue a traditional way of life. “How many rivers and lakes have to be spoiled before Canadians start to care?” continued Makinaw.
In addition, Bill C-45 is a budget bill. However, it contains nothing to address the $4.7 billion dollar need identified by the independent national engineering assessment that is required to ensure that First Nations are able to enjoy the same safe drinking water services as other Canadians. “The silence on Bill C-45 on this issue is a very loud and clear statement that the Conservative government is content to allow third world water and sanitation systems to continue on Indian Reserves,” said Makinaw.
The Chiefs of the Confederacy of Treaty No. 6 First Nations unanimously passed on resolution on November 29th, 2012 opposing all federal legislation, regulations and policy changes stating the Federal Government has failed to meaningfully consult with First Nations for shared decision-making on issues that have a direct impact on them through consideration of their Aboriginal and Treaty rights and the legal principles of free, prior and informed consent and called on the Government of Canada to provide First Nations the opportunity and resources to participate in a meaningful consultation process with respect to jurisdiction on our lands and resources and protects our ability to practice our Indigenous and Treaty rights freely.
The Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations represents the 18 First Nations in Treaty No. 6 Territory in what is now known as the province of Alberta.
For further information please contact:
The Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations
Carolyn Buffalo, Director of Operations