There is expected to be some lively debate at a national treaty gathering in Saskatchewan this upcoming weekend, but two of the major players are downplaying reports of a rift developing between Indigenous groups and the Assembly of First Nations.

The chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, Perry Bellegarde, says there is a lot of frustration among treaty people over the lack of progress on implementation.

“We have said since January the 11th, the AFN cannot implement treaties, it’s the treaty areas themselves, it’s the collectivity of the people that has to move this forward,” he says.

Both Bellegarde and Onion Lake Cree Nation Chief Wallace Fox say the chiefs need to follow the direction of grassroots people.  Chief Fox says the gathering is not about trying to dump the AFN.

“That never has been my intent.  My intention was to host the people and take direction and a mandate from them,” he says.

The national gathering runs from July 14-18 – roughly the same dates as the AFN annual general assembly, which takes place July 16-18 in Whitehorse, Yukon.