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'We are not going to beg': Sask. First Nations say Duty to Consult practices need to change

A delegation of representatives from six Saskatchewan First Nations joined with the NDP to call on the province to change the Duty to Consult practices between the Crown and Indigenous communities.

Kahkewistahaw First Nation Chief Evan Taypotat said communities want to join with the province on these decisions.

“We urge Premier Moe and the powers that be to work with us,” he said. “There should not be two classes of people. There should be one class because we are all rich on this land.”

The NDP tabled a bill in the legislature Wednesday that would ensure the Crown’s duty to consult Indigenous communities on crown land sales. Critic for First Nations relations Betty Nippi-Albright said the current practices do not honour the treaties signed by the crown and Indigenous nations.

“It is about working with the communities and saying to them, ‘How do you want to be consulted? What is meaningful for you?’”

The NDP said there is only 10 per cent of crown land remaining in Saskatchewan that has not been sold.

Chief Taypotat has gone to other First Nation communities in jurisdictions outside of Saskatchewan and says the process of consultation is different there compared to here.

“We feel [Saskatchewan] is 30 years behind other jurisdictions,” said Taypotat. “In British Columbia, industry will ask Indigenous people for permission; in Saskatchewan, First Nations people have to beg industry for permission. That is wrong.”

Onion Lake Cree Nation Councillor Hubert Pahtayken believes change is long overdue.

“I am not going to beg this government to come to the table,” he said. “I am sure the premier has enough intelligence, enough common sense to do what is right.”

Minister of Government Relations Don McMorris said he has heard from both First Nations and industry partners and admits changes to the policy are needed.

“We need to look at how we are engaging, consulting and communicating with First Nations. We need to do better on that,” he said.

Nippi-Albright said bringing Indigenous and non-Indigenous partners together is just one way to create reconciliation in Saskatchewan. Top Stories

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