THE PROVINCE MUST STOP ITS ONLINE AUCTION SALE OF CROWN LANDS

(Treaty 6 Territory, Saskatoon, SK) — The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Executive calls on the Saskatchewan government to put an immediate stop to the auction sale of 62 parcels of Crown lands this month until the Treaty Land Entitlement First Nations in Saskatchewan are meaningfully consulted.

First Nations in Saskatchewan were notified via letter on January 25, 2017 about the proposed sale of vacant Crown lands, requesting whether the First Nation used the “land to hunt, fish and trap for food and carry out traditional uses” and whether the potential sale or lease of Crown land has the potential to adversely affect those rights. This was raised with the FSIN executive yesterday evening, particularly that an online auction would begin on March 2, 2017. FSIN staff learned about the online auction through social media.

“The proposed auction sale of Crown lands by the Saskatchewan government is a serious breach of its legal obligations to First Nations that have been struggling against economic and legislative hurdles to purchase and attain an adequate and viable economic land base,” said FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron.

Since 2008, the province has introduced the Crown Land Sales Programs, oftentimes with incentives for current lessees of the land, to the exclusion of all TLE First Nations. Government actions must honor the spirit of reconciliation and the FSIN will continue to advocate for the implementation and lawful obligations of our Inherent and Treaty rights. Selling lands reserved for First Nations without meaningfully consulting them just repeats the mistakes of the past.

“First Nations must always be meaningfully and adequately consulted and have the right of first refusal on these Crown lands in the current and future fulfillment of TLE and specific claims,” says FSIN Vice-Chief Dutch Lerat. “The Saskatchewan government is completely disregarding its TLE obligations by selling off Crown land to the highest bidder and not allowing the First Nations the time they need to weigh their options on the selection and purchase of Crown lands.”

“Judicial decisions have proven time and time again that we First Nations are the first peoples of this land, long before any settlers or the Crown set foot on our ancestral lands,” said Cameron. “We owe it to our future generations to protect and preserve what’s rightfully ours: our Inherent and Treaty rights; the protection and use of our lands and waters. We will seek direction from our commissions to decide if we will go ahead with legal action. Enough is enough.”

The FSIN represents 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan. The Federation is committed to honouring the spirit and intent of the treaties, as well as the promotion, protection and implementation of the treaty promises that were made more than a century ago.