Sask. First Act opposed by First Nations

Sask. First Act opposed by First Nations

The Saskatchewan First Act or Bill 88 is slowly making its way through the Legislative Assembly.

SASKATOON – Moosomin First Nation Chief Cheryl Kahpeaysewat wore a red shirt with the map of Canada on the front and the words “Land Back” and the phrase “No Justice on Stolen Land” on the back.

Her attire summarized the sentiments expressed by Kahpeaysewat, the executive branch of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, and the chiefs of 73 other nations about the introduction of the Saskatchewan First Act to the province’s Legislative Assembly.

The Saskatchewan First Act or Bill 88 was introduced by Saskatoon-Stonebridge-Dakota MLA Bronwyn Eyre of the Sask Party, Secretary of Energy and Resources. The bill was passed unanimously 43-0 in the second reading on Monday evening, November 28.

Bill 88 asserts Saskatchewan’s exclusive legislative jurisdiction over natural resources. It also seeks to amend the Saskatchewan constitution and affirm provincial autonomy.

Kahpeaysewat said the bill would affect the daily life of First Nations communities in the province, including the Treaty Land Sharing Network launched last year, which grants Indigenous Peoples the right to use land owned by ranchers within the network .

“Back when our great-grandfathers signed the treaties, they protected our resources and lands. They knew then that our country is rich in natural resources and they want to protect the future generation,” Kahpeaysewat told SASKTODAY.

“Our ancestors only care about the next generation, like future children and us. So we leaders must continue their legacy and fight for the treaties that were signed back then.”

Kahpeaysewat was among five female chiefs who opposed the bill, joining chiefs Margaret Bear (Ochapowace First Nation), Crystal Okemow (Lucky Man First Nation), Joyce Naytowhow (Montreal Lake Cree Nation), and Tammy Cook-Searson (Lac La Ronge Indian) connected band) via zoom.

She added that she was proud of her female bosses, her male colleagues and the FSIN board for making a statement against the bill. Also in attendance were FSIN Fourth Vice Chief Heather Bear and Mosquito Grizzly Bear Head Lean Man First Nation Chief Tanya Aguilar-Antiman.

“This fight is not just for us, but for the future of our children and the next generation. It is for those yet to be born. Therefore, I speak on behalf of the more than 2,000 members of our community as their chief,” said Kahpeaysewat.

Kahpeaysewat cited the Moosomin First Nation under Treaty 6 as an example of how the resources on their lands are being exploited by an oil company that started drilling for oil and damaged their river.

“They use the river to extract it [oil]. The oil was so thick that it took water to extract it. They are disrupting Mother Earth’s water and the land itself. This company came from Alberta and they didn’t even consult us,” Kahpeaysewat said.

“Our First Nations are crying out for housing, yet last year they drained $2.7 billion from this facility alone; As I said, no advice. That’s why we [FN chiefs and FSIN Executive] calling for the immediate withdrawal of the bill and for lawmakers to consult with us before acting on it.”

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