Sask. premier’s white paper ignores Indigenous resource rights, say First Nations leader, academic

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Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe’s omission of First Nations’ rights in a white paper and accompanying speech about resource jurisdiction this week was legally and morally mistaken, critics say.

“We simply celebrated, on Sept. 30, Every Child Matters, Orange Shirt Day. [But] what’s reconciliation after they preserve excluding First Nations individuals?” Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Chief Bobby Cameron mentioned in an interview.

Earlier this week, Moe launched a paper entitled Drawing the Line: Defending Saskatchewan’s Economic Autonomy throughout an occasion for a North Battleford enterprise crowd, saying it was “a reassertion of our autonomy, constitutional rights and the powers over pure sources granted to us underneath the Constitution is so as.”

Moe made no point out of First Nations rights or historical past when he launched the paper. Moe’s omissions are a “direct menace to First Nations inherent and Treaty rights as acknowledged and affirmed by Section 35 of the Constitution,” said an FSIN information launch.

Moe’s declare that Saskatchewan’s financial system might lose $111 billion by 2035 underneath present and deliberate federal insurance policies has been questioned by economists. One economist known as the paper’s fiscal evaluation “extremely weak.”

Moe mentioned he is able to battle the federal authorities in court docket for management over resource coverage if obligatory.

But Cameron and University of Saskatchewan assistant professor Kathy Walker say that would backfire. The Supreme Court of Canada and decrease courts have persistently acknowledged the rights of First Nations and expanded the responsibility of different governments to seek the advice of and accommodate Indigenous communities, they mentioned.

Walker mentioned Moe ought to have identified this. Given the authorized and historic precedent, it was “actually stunning” Moe didn’t even point out First Nations within the paper or his speech, she mentioned.

“The bigger challenge of Indigenous inherent and treaty rights must be considered. There’s simply, there is not any getting round that,” Walker mentioned.

Indigenous leaders akin to former Assembly of First Nations Chief Perry Bellegarde have typically mentioned the treaties didn’t cede mineral rights, noting the Treaty 4 reference to share land to the “depth of a plow.”

There’s additionally the controversial 1930 Natural Resources Transfer Agreement. The federal authorities transferred management over sources to the provincial authorities, however First Nations have been shut out of any significant involvement, Cameron mentioned.

Walker famous the Saskatchewan authorities additionally has insurance policies recognizing the authorized “responsibility to seek the advice of” First Nations.

Moe might need he had unique management, however that does not make it true, Walker mentioned. The days of federal and provincial governments trampling Indigenous rights are over, she mentioned.

“That period is gone. It not exists,” she mentioned.

Moe was requested by reporters Wednesday concerning the omission. He mentioned he and fellow MLAs communicate regularly with individuals of all backgrounds.

“We talked to many Indigenous individuals throughout the province. We talked to many individuals throughout the province that weren’t Indigenous as nicely,” Moe mentioned.

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