Chiefs speak out on treaty rights

‘Without treaties, Canada would not exist’

Chris Clegg
For the Lakeside Leader

Chiefs representing various bands in Treaty 6, Treaty 7 and Treaty 8 territory are united in preserving treaty rights after recent meetings.

In an April 18 news release, Treaty 8 chiefs indicated their decision to take a stand on critical issues affecting their nations.

“We will ensure our treaties are upheld to the spirit and intent, ‘as long as the sun shines, the grass grows, and the rivers flow and until such time as Yidah shall reverse,’” the chiefs’ statement says.

For history’s sake, the news release says in 1969, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and Minister of Indian Affairs Jean Chretien released a ‘White Paper,’ a document aimed at eliminating the relationship between First Nations and the Crown; to eliminate ‘Indians’ and assimilate the First Peoples into what is known as Canada.

Under the plan, the treaties would be eliminated, says the chiefs’ news release.

An immediate denouncement and rebuttal followed. Under the leadership of Harold Cardinal, president of the Indian Association of Alberta, the chiefs and elders from Treaties 6, 7 and 8 presented the ‘Red Paper’ in response to the Trudeau/Chretien document. Trudeau officially withdrew the White Paper in 1970.

The chiefs agree that without treaties, Canada would not exist.

“Our people entered into peace and friendship treaties with Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain, known as the Crown,” notes the news release. “These international treaties made with the Imperial Crown are relationships between two sovereign nations. These treaties are alive today and are the exclusive reason Canada and its provinces and territories exist.”

Today, the chiefs say they are concerned that Canada has continued the assimilation incursion, to offload their treaty obligations to the provinces and territories.

“The current Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, is on the same path as his father,” notes the release. “The sovereign nation chiefs are united in a monumental journey to revisit and revitalize the Red Paper, to ensure it upholds the original true intent.”

The chiefs’ news release goes on to say the new Red Paper, “will stand as a testament of resiliency of the First Peoples and the dignity of all aspects and our connection to the land.”

The release concludes with a vow by the chiefs about their “commitment to safeguarding our treaty agreements with the Crown today, holding Canada to task.”

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