Indigenous leaders from across Canada wrapped up a two-day treaty forum in Saskatoon yesterday.
The meeting was co-hosted by the Assembly of First Nations and the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations.
FSIN Chief Perry Bellegarde says Prime Minister Stephen Harper still needs to come through on the promise he made on Jan. 11 to hold a high-level meeting with First Nations leaders and they plan to be ready when it happens.
“So we are also following up on the meeting we had with the Prime Minister on Jan. 11 where he committed to a high level mechanism,” he says. “A high level cabinet committee to look at implementation of treaties in section 35. So we have to make sure we have our strategies in place so we can put this forward to the prime minister and the Crown.”
Still, Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Derek Nepinak, who was one of the speakers at the treaty forum, says the best chance of actually seeing the treaties implemented down the road will likely come as a result of continued pressure from grassroots organizations, like Idle No More, rather than high level meetings between the Crown and some First Nations leaders.
“As long as we exist as political organizations and we look down from these organizations on the grassroots people who are actually responsible for implementing treaty – these types of meetings won’t yield anything,” he says. “One process will lead to another process which will yield another more complex process and nothing happens over time. Treaty implementation has to start from the ground up.”
The forum featured a number of presentations on treaties one through eleven.
It took place at the Dakota Dunes Casino on the Whitecap Dakota First Nation.