Smith’s Landing calls Sovereignty Act ‘an assault on our treaty’
Smith’s Landing First Nation has urged Alberta to repeal the newly passed sovereignty law, saying the legislation violates treaty rights and undermines reconciliation.
Prime Minister Danielle Smith says the Sovereignty Act, her signature bill taking leadership of the United Conservative Party earlier this year, “allows Alberta to fight harmful federal laws.”
Critics say the law’s purpose — to halt enforcement of federal laws that Alberta deems contrary to provincial interests — is unconstitutional and an overstatement.
Smith’s Landing First Nation is headquartered in Fort Smith, NWT, but its reserves span a region of northern Alberta now dominated by Wood Buffalo National Park.
The First Nation will host the Dene National Assembly next year, Dene leaders confirmed last week.
“The Sovereignty Act is an attack on our treaty and blatantly ignores our sovereignty,” Chief Thaidene Paulette of Smith’s Landing First Nation said in a press release Friday.
“The law will allow the province to override federal jurisdiction just as it continues to override First Nation jurisdiction and ignore contractual relationships with the federal crown.”
Smith’s Landing wrote to Smith, Friday’s press release said, “urging the provincial government to immediately repeal the sovereignty law, not only because it violates treaty rights, but also because it violates reconciliation, the implementation of the articles of the United Nations Declaration.” Nations, undermines the rights of tribal peoples and the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.”
The Alberta Prime Minister’s Office has been contacted for comment.
Next year’s Dene National Assembly will be hosted by Smith’s Landing, in part to celebrate the Paulette case, led 50 years ago by First Nation’s François Paulette, in which Dene chiefs successfully convinced a judge that the Dene -People did not intend to give up their rights and titles when signing Contract 8 and Contract 11.
Chief Thaidene Paulette, son of Francois, stated: “Just as former Chief Francois Paulette fought to protect Aboriginal title and treaty rights in 1973, today’s Smith’s Landing First Nation leadership stands with the 48 Treaty First Nations of Alberta Contracts 6 , 7 and 8 to protect the contracts.
“While Smith’s Landing First Nation hopes Premier Smith will respond appropriately and repeal the law, the nation stands ready to take any steps necessary to defend its sovereignty and uphold the spirit and intent of Treaty 8, as confirmed by the Supreme Court.” of the Northwest Territories recognized in Re Paulette.”