Tough Talk Continues At Treaty Gathering

Wednesday, July 25, 2007 at 13:36



Chiefs and delegates from across Canada aren’t mincing their words at this year’s national treaty gathering at Fort Carlton.


Yesterday, around 300 people turned out for the second day of the event, and at least one chief from every treaty area was present.


Many say Ottawa is doing its best to run their affairs through the Indian Act and not the historical agreements.


Former national chief Ovide Mercredi says the result of this “colonial tactic” is that band members are forced to do whatever they can to survive.


Other chiefs say the Natural Resources Transfer Agreement of 1930 was one of the most damaging policies to affect First Nations, and should be abolished.


Chief Dwayne Paul of the One Arrow reserve says he and others have started to calculate what they feel is the amount of money taken from bands by government and industry.


He claims each province is supposed to be giving First Nations $8 billion each year in oil and gas revenue alone through resource revenue sharing.


Prince Albert Grand Council Chief Ron Michel says land use is a major hurdle the government has stumbled on when it comes to treaty implementation in northern Saskatchewan.


Michel says government too often acts like it owns the resources.


He adds the Woodland Cree believe they “didn’t negotiate anything”, but allowed the “white settlers” to use the land.


Other chiefs openly worry the government wants to turn their land into municipalities when all is said and done.


Another chief, Rick Gamble of the Beardy’s/Okemasis First Nation, says he can’t believe how difficult relations between bands and Indian Affairs have become.


Gamble says whenever he meets with department officials, “I feel like Attilla the Hun trying to address the Vatican . . . as if we’re the evil empire”.


This year’s gathering runs until Friday, which is when government representatives are expected to arrive.