As Parliamentarians examine restitution of land to First Nations and Metis communities, Saskatchewan’s Office of the Treaty Commissioner said returning lands is vital to reconciliation, food security and land stewardship.

Mary Culbertson addressed the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs stating that policies and legislation in Saskatchewan make it difficult for First Nations to acquire land.

She pointed to the Natural Resources Transfer Agreement, amendments to the Trespass Act, the Saskatchewan First Act and the controversial selling of Crown Lands.

“I believe there are too many processes put in place, and the land restitution process is not equal,” Culbertson said. She explained that currently many First Nations do not have the human resources capacity in navigating private land purchases.

Culbertson describes the processes as a deliberate attempt to make it difficult on First Nations, adding its a breech of the Treaties.

In May, Sean Willy, President of the Des Nedhe Group, the economic development corporation for the English River First Nation, told the same committee that land restitution is important for economic reconciliation, as First Nations are looking to expand business opportunities.

“All of the these processes, legislations, and policies limit the ability to exercise Rights,” said Culbertson. “It limits access to the land and it limits making a living from the land.”