The province and FSIN signed a new bilateral protocol agreement today, which they say signals their commitment to work together on First Nations issues.

The bilateral protocol sets out a formal framework of ongoing meetings that will be co-chaired by Premier Brad Wall and FSIN Chief Perry Bellegarde and will include FSIN Executive members and provincial cabinet ministers.

Wall admits these meetings have already been taking place – noting they began when Lorne Calvert was Premier and Bellegarde previously served as FSIN Chief – but says, “There’s something that’s a little bit more formal about this, perhaps, and a bit more focusing.”

Bellegarde says having the agreement formalized is significant.

“It’s formalized that yes, we will meet two or three times a year. And, yes, we will have access to the key decision makers around Cabinet table. And yes, we’ll have a two-tiered structure where our CEO, our Executive Operating Officer will meet the appropriate Deputy Ministers to make sure there are work plans.”

Both say all issues such as education, housing, justice and resources are on the table.