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First Nations leaders want consultation before Sask. sells Crown land

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REGINA -

First Nations leaders were at the Saskatchewan Legislature Tuesday to express concern over the ongoing sale of Crown land and urge the province to consult with Indigenous people.

Justin Burns, a councillor at James Smith Cree Nation, said it seems like it’s the province’s way “or the highway.”

“They want us to work together with the province here when it comes to dealing with a lot of our issues but when it comes to duty to consult, there is no negotiation whatsoever,” said Burns.

More than 8,000 acres of Crown land are on the auction block this week as the government steps up the sale of is property. It’s being sold online through a private company.

Shirley Wolfe-Keller, an Elder and committee member with the Anishinabe Nation Treaty Authority, said they are concerned about future generations.

“What are they going to hunt? What are they going to pick? Where are they going to get medicine from? What are they going to learn? We are losing all of that and that is extremely important to Indigenous people,” Wolfe-Keller said.

Betty Nippi-Albright, the NDP Opposition critic for First Nations and Métis Relations and Truth and Reconciliation, pursued the issue during Tuesday’s question period.

“My question to the provincial government is this: what good are the rights to hunt, fish and gather if there aren’t any Crown land left for us to do that on?” she said

The government acknowledged there are concerns about the consultation process that takes place just prior to crown land being sold. That process will be reviewed, but the current auction will proceed.

Don McMorris, minister of government relations and minister responsible for First Nations, Métis and Northern Affairs, said the government’s process has been working, but it takes time.

“It’s the federal government, First Nation and provincial government, so you can imagine that takes some time to get to,” he said.

“I believe that certainly the Government of Saskatchewan has been working in good faith and will continue to work in good faith to settle those claims as quickly as it possibly can when you’re dealing with the three different levels.”

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