‘We will blockade’: FSIN chiefs threaten action in response to Saskatchewan First Act

‘We will blockade’: FSIN chiefs threaten action in response to Saskatchewan First Act

More than 30 First Nation Chiefs from across the province gathered in Saskatoon Friday to denounce the recently introduced Saskatchewan First Act and threaten action beyond meetings and negotiations.

“We are close to the point where we will start the blockade,” said Bobby Cameron of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN).

Bosses gathered at FSIN offices on Friday said the law violated inherent treaty rights and blockades would be organized in the new year, but none of the bosses would say exactly when or where they will be placed.

“Let’s have a Merry Christmas, take a good break, rest and get to work in the New Year,” said Chief Evan Taypotat of Kahkewistahaw First Nation. “Because enough is enough.”

The Saskatchewan First Act was introduced in November after years of fighting between the province and Ottawa over Saskatchewan’s autonomy.

The province said the law “reaffirms Saskatchewan’s autonomy and exclusive jurisdiction over its natural resources.”

“This historic legislation will help protect our economic growth and prosperity from intrusive federal policies that encroach on our legislative powers,” Justice Secretary Bronwyn Eyre said in a press release announcing the law.

Cameron is mobilizing support for the Chiefs, who oppose not only the law itself but anything it might mean for progress.

“Because we want to make sure there is something left for our future generations. That they have a better life than we had,” Cameron said.

Chief Margaret Bear of Ochapawace First Nation said the existing treaties were agreed with the Crown and predate the province. Before attempting to claim its share of natural resource revenues, the province should comply with the treaties.

“We are the original interest holders of this country. No policy or action will tell us otherwise. We will not sit on the sidelines while two foreign parties continue to steal our resources from our backyard,” Bear said.

“And Saskatchewan has the gall to think they have the rights and exclusive ownership of our natural resources.”

Cameron said legal action is also underway as FSIN is working on a lawsuit that could take “several years” to work its way through the justice system.

Many of the chiefs here mentioned the 1930 provincial Natural Resources Transfer Agreement and the 1969 state white paper, which proposed abolishing the status of Indians, as two damaging laws in the past.

These chiefs see similarities between them and the Saskatchewan First Act, a recent statute that challenges inherent treaty rights.

“This statute asserts Saskatchewan’s exclusive jurisdiction over laws relating to matters listed in Sections 92 and 92A and does not limit the existing rights of First Nations,” the provincial government said in a statement.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *