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'We can’t be quiet anymore': First Nations and opposition react to vote against Duty to Consult Act

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The provincial government voted against the Duty to Consult Act in the Saskatchewan Legislature on Thursday.

The act, also known as Bill 610, would have forced greater consultation with First Nations on Crown land sales.

The NDP call it a massive blow to reconciliation and a slap in the face to Indigenous communities.

The Saskatchewan government auctioned off another 35 parcels of Crown owned land. The results are on the McDougall Auctioneers website.

Some First Nations say traditional hunting land is being sold and they are not being adequately consulted.

“They are watering down our treaties, are trying to and we can’t be quiet anymore about it,” said Chief Tyson Bear of Flying Dust First Nation.

NDP MLA Betty Nippi-Albright proposed the duty to consult legislation on behalf of Indigenous leaders across the province on Nov. 7, 2022. The government voted down the bill.

“This would give the nations that opportunity to truly be partners in the decisions that are going to impact them. It would give an opportunity for nations to protect their treaty rights,” she said.

The government says it already consults First Nations on land sales.

“First Nations would have the ability to agree or not agree and so it really would handcuff and be very very difficult for government to operate,” said Don McMorris, minister of government relations.

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) is disappointed with the current level of consultation.

“It would have really put some teeth to this consultation piece and for any MLAs and the provincial government to say we do consult with First Nations, I’m sorry, no you don’t. Stop saying that. No you do not,” said FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron.

The provincial government is currently looking for ways to enhance consultations with First Nations and all impacted groups. The FSIN says treaties trump provincial law as it prepares to take matters to court.

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