Duty To Consult Conference Underway

Monday, May 12, 2008 at 15:47



Leaders outlined their expectations at the first day of the duty to consult roundtable in Saskatoon this morning.


FSIN Chief Lawrence Joseph brought up what was expected to be a main topic: resource revenue sharing.


Joseph says everyone else has businesses developed in their territories.


He says it’s “very unfortunate that First Nations are kind of left behind, because we’re just not part of the agenda”.


However, Joseph says he has a good feeling about these discussions, because everyone is invited to the table, including the Metis.


Metis Nation – Saskatchewan President Robert Doucette says his people are interested in resource revenue, as well.


But he says his organization first needs to focus on traditional land mapping and the money to do it.


Premier Brad Wall acknowledged there is a need for mapping and for what he calls “capacity building” for First Nations and Metis people.


However, he wouldn’t committ to anything concrete on revenue sharing.


Wall says there are other ways First Nations and Metis people can benefit from the province’s booming economy — including new business creation, and sharing in more of the job training and employment creation in the province.


All three leaders say this roundtable is historic, and just a beginning of many more talks in the years to come.


Meanwhile, a member of the Enterprise Saskatchewan board says he doesn’t expect to ever see a time where there won’t be questions associated with the government’s duty to consult.


Cameco’s Gary Merasty says there are always differences in how various resources are extracted and how it affects the terrain.


He says that means different levels of input may be required for each project.


Merasty says there could be even bigger questions associated with a claim on land which is covered under treaty land entitlement.


He says the combination of a TLE and a mineral disposition could create a “super duty to consult”.


Merasty also thinks there is a real hunger by all parties to establish common ground on the entire consultation and accommodation file.


He says today’s agenda is designed to give Aboriginal stakeholders a chance to explain what the term ‘duty to consult’ means to them.


Tomorrow will be a day for questions.


However, he expects there will be some questions that can’t be answered just yet.


Merasty adds the dialogue on the issue certainly appears to have come a long way.


He says some bands now talk about having shared traditional lands instead of overlapping ones.


Meanwhile, a number of southern Saskatchewan First Nations say they don’t want the FSIN representing them at this week’s roundtable.


In a statement released this morning, the Muskowpetung, Standing Buffalo, Muskowekwan, George Gordon, Day Star, Moosomin and Ochapowace First Nations say they have not delegated any authority to the federation to speak on their behalf.


The bands say they want to discuss the duty to consult issue with the government on an individual basis.


Chief Reg Bellerose of the Muskowekwan First Nation was one of the chiefs who signed the letter.


He says even though he does not support the roundtable, he felt he had to be in attendance so he could keep his reserve informed.


Bellerose says the money the FSIN received to deal with duty to consult should have gone directly to the First Nations.


He also says elder and youth involvement is missing at the roundtable conference.


FSIN and government officials insist that each First Nation is being represented by themselves, not the FSIN.