Symposium to consider natural resource transfer agreements and Treaty Rights

Dignitaries, including PAGC Vice Chief Christopher Jobbs, left, participate in a three-day symposium to understand natural resource transfer agreements from a Treaty Rights perspective.

Bailey Sutherland/Herald File Photo

Bailey Sutherland, Daily Herald

Tuesday marked the first day of the three-day-long summit held at the Senator Allan Bird Memorial Centre to address the Natural Resource Transfer Agreements (NRTA).

Over 200 people from Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta, including First Nations Chiefs, elders, legal representatives, historians, and technical experts will gather to discuss and make recommendations on the issues that have arisen from the NRTA based on Treaty Rights and Treaty Relationships.

The agenda for the three days includes leadership dialogue, keynote presentations, plenaries, and historical background information.

Joseph Tsannie, Vice Chief of the Prince Albert Grand Council, says that the summit is not only about discussing lost resources, but also about empowering the First Nations people in these provinces.

“Very little goes back to our communities to develop our education for our young people, to provide proper healthcare for our people, to build roads into some of our communities. In terms of treaties, when they were signed, we agreed to share our land and the wealth of our land. Some of our communities shouldn’t have to live in third-world conditions when we have industries in our backyards that are making millions of dollars off of our lands”.

Tsannie says that they are hoping the summit will help First Nations leaders from the three provinces reach a consensus as to how they will move forward.

“The promises that were made, the deals that were made back then, a lot of that hasn’t been acted on by the government; we talked about reconciliation, there hasn’t been any,” he said.

“Any development that happens on our land, we need a say in it. We’re not opposing any developments, but we should be at the table”.

The Natural Resources Acts were a series of acts passed by the Parliament of Canada and the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta in 1930 to transfer control over crown lands and natural resources within these provinces from the federal government to the provincial governments. The federal government and the provinces reached an agreement that allowed for the transfer of administration of the natural resources, called the Natural Resource Transfer Agreements.

Grand Chief of the Prince Albert Grand Council, Brian Hardlotte, says, “There was no prior informed consent, no accommodations to the First Nations. (The Canadian government) transferred all the natural resources, renewable and nonrenewable, to the provinces to take care of and generate revenue. These stories after the 1930 NRTA and the way (First Nations) were treated when they were trying to exercise their treaty rights and trying to make a living, some of those stories, they’re injustices”.

The leaders involved in the summit are looking to create realistic goals from the experiences that will be shared over the course of the three days to move forward with reconciliation.