FSIN Executive Communique August 24, 2012Treaty Governance Office
In order to create awareness of inherent rights and Treaty implementation, TGO has put together a set of 3 CDs containing the presentations and discussion from the Chiefs Forum on Treaty Implementation that was held on March 30-31 at Dakota Dunes. The CDs contain the words and ideas of Okemow Wally Fox, Senator Sol Sanderson, Treaty 4 Elders' Council member Jim Sinclair, Treaty 1-11 Spokesperson Ovide Mercredi, international rights expert Sharon Venne, Vice Chief Morley Watson, Vice Chief Simon Bird, Vice Chief Bobby Cameron, Vice Chief Dutch Lerat, Senator Matilda Lewis, Onion Lake Treaty Governance Executive Director Henry Lewis, Chief Perry Bellegarde, Chief Reginald Bellerose, Chief Darrel McCallum and Chief Ian Mckay.
TGO is making 500 sets for the Treaty 1-11 Gathering in Brandon, MB on September 10-14. An accompanying PP presentation in being developed to assist in delivering Treaty and inherent right information sessions to the communities, which will be available in the fall.
TGO staff members are working with the OTC, FNUC, Justice and the Chief of Staff to develop an Institute of Law and Government to provide support for First Nations in the implementation of the inherent right to self-determination and Treaties. The Institute will offer various programs that will support governance, law-making and nation-rebuilding at the community level, beginning in the fall of 2012. More information will be forthcoming.
TGO staff have presented on the Treaty and Aboriginal right to water at the NRTA conference in Prince Albert on August 12 and on the Treaty right to shelter at the Housing as a Business Conference in Saskatoon on August 21. We are available on request for presentations on Treaty and inherent rights.
TGO continues to support the FSIN Secretariats in the implementation of Treaty in their sector of responsibility. A well, planning is underway for a Chiefs Forum on Treaty Implementation for November of 2012.
The FSIN hosted a very successful workshop called "Housing as a Business" in Saskatoon from August 21st to 23rd. The workshop built on a concept which started in Ontario First Nations and the feedback from participants was overwhelmingly positive. The FSIN will now establish a group in Saskatchewan to carry this work forward and already 5 pilot communities have been identified. Over 100 participants from Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario attended, and presenters included representatives from Ojibway and Mohawk First Nations, FSIN Acting Chief Morley Watson, Chief Wallace Fox from Onion Lake Cree Nation, Dan Bellegarde from FSIN Treaty Governance Office, and Ron Erikson from Whitecap Dakota First Nation.
The 2012-13 Section 95 allocation for Saskatchewan was announced and as anticipated, it was cut by 30%, from $26 million to $18 million. This will result in an estimated 88 unit commitments, down from 159 in 2011-12. The FSIN issued a press release criticizing the cut on August 7, which resulted in significant media attention and forced CMHC National Office to issue a response. The AFN released a statement with comments from National Chief Atleo which echoed comments made by FSIN.
Saskatchewan Watershed Authority
Preparations are being made to meet with the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority on the 25 year Water Security Plan. Letters were sent to all First Nations. It entailed some background research and a review of the plan. A meeting was held with Saskatchewan Watershed Authority discussing how to move forward on this process. They were reminded that First Nations have Treaty and Inherent Rights and that water as a resource is a very serious issue. First Nations have to be included in the development of the plan as partners as it impacts First Nations livelihood.
Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO)
The Lands and Resources Secretariat will be host to more regional meetings in Regina, Prince Albert and North Battleford to inform First Nations on the Nuclear Waste Management Organizations' activities in the province and to report on the progress regarding the three sites that are undergoing assessment to potentially host a nuclear storage facility. The informational sessions are being proposed for September and October.
It is important for the First Nations to not ignore this matter because the federal government will make a decision on NWMO and its work regardless if whether the First Nations choose to refuse to work with the NWMO organization. The Supreme Court of Canada has made it clear that the First Nations have a "reciprocal obligation" under the law of the Duty to Consult and Accommodate to engage government and any proponent on any matter that impacts their Treaty and Inherent rights; the First Nations just cannot refuse to do so as a means of protecting their rights.
Lands and Resource Commission
The Commission met on July 25, 2012 in Saskatoon. The Commission Chiefs received an update and discussed with Cynthia Westaway, Borden Ladner Gervais, the legal challenge to Bill C-38: Jobs, Growth, and Long-term Prosperity Act. Other items of discussion included First Nations Land Management Act overview, Canadian Western Agribition presentation, PFRA Community Pastures, Osooyos Decision, Moose Over-population, TLE, NRTA, and NWMO. The next L&R Commission yet to be determined.
The Specific Claims staff have been working on a submission for the five year review of Justice at Last which was the 2007 announcement of the Harper government of reforms to the Specific Claims process. Along with a new Specific Claims Policy, Justice at Last including the promise to create an independent Tribunal to adjudicate claims resulting in the Specific Claims Tribunal Act (SCTA). Although the SCTA and many of the changes were welcomed by Saskatchewan First Nations, there has been considerable concern regarding how the Federal bureaucracy has implemented Justice at Last. The staff has also been assisting First Nations in preparing the new claims for eventual submission to Canada. In addition to their specific claims work, staff also participated by providing technical/analysis support to the Lands and Resources Secretariat during its strategic planning session.
Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act Lands
On June 22, 2012, federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz sent correspondence to Vice-Chief Bobby Cameron advising that his Ministry is "conducting a comprehensive review of the title holdings of all of the community pastures which will be conducted over a period of six years, with no changes for the 2012 grazing season." Minister Ritz commits to "consider the Treaty Land Entitlement agreements, specific claim agreements and the obligation to consult as set out by the Supreme Court of Canada in the Haida/Taku/Mikisew Cree, as and when they apply."
Alan Parkinson, Manager of the PFRA program, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, has committed to continue to inform and engage the First Nations while the devolution of the Community Pasture Program proceeds. Alan Parkinson attended the most recent Commission meeting and advised the Commission Chiefs that those TLE and Specific Claim First Nations interested in acquiring these PFRA lands should make the selections through their agreements in order to "freeze" these lands and as such would ensure that the TLE and Specific Claim First Nations would be involved in this process.
Keep in mind that this program will make no changes to the PFRA lands until fiscal year 2013. This time will allow the TLE and Specific Claim First Nations to make their selections on these lands.
Privatization of First Nation Lands
Chief Commissioner Manny Jules, First Nations Tax Commission, has formed a Working Group comprised of First Nation leaders to draft legislation that would convert "reserve lands" into fee simple lands which would allow a First Nation to mortgage, build equity and finance business upon. The Working Group is expected to complete its work on drafting the proposed legislation by the end of October and will report its recommendations to the federal government.
Tina Pelletier of the First Nations Tax Commission states that it is expected that this legislation will be an "opt-in" piece of legislation similar to that of the First Nations Land Management Act.
The Lands & Resources Secretariat has invited Manny Jules to the next Commission meeting to discuss the matter. However, the Secretariat will ensure the First Nations are well informed of this initiative and the potential impacts to Treaty and Inherent rights.
Treaty Land Entitlement Anniversary
20th Anniversary Celebration of the Treaty Land Entitlement Agreement, 1992 to hold in Saskatoon on September 25, 2102. A media event will be held at Wanuskewin and the celebration event will be held at Prairieland Park in Saskatoon.
Roundtable on Natural Resources Sector
On Thursday, August 9, 2012 Vice Chief Bird was pleased to be invited to the "Roundtable on Natural Resources Sector Labour Market Challenges" and was able to share some concerns on the challenges and barriers facing our First Nation people as they enter the labour market. Ministers from the federal and provincial governments were in attendance as well as representatives from the universities and technical colleges and also many high ranking officials from the natural resource business sector were there.
Vice Chief Bird was able to bring the following concerns of First Nations people in Saskatchewan to the attention of those in attendance:
• Education parity funding (we are underfunded by approximately 40% compared to the province)
• Investing in our First Nations youth in Saskatchewan in education to sustain our current economic boom (bringing in immigrant workers is not the answer)
• Revenue sharing (this is our Treaty Right) and
• Privatizing of reserve lands have concerned many of our chiefs in Saskatchewan
Vice Chief Birds concerns were shared and echoed by those from industry and also from the educational institutions that were in attendance. He looks forward to continuing the dialogue with those in attendance at the Roundtable to ensure that First Nation issues remain at the forefront of all future discussions.
FNMR Minister Meeting
On Friday August 10, 2012 Vice Chief Bird along with Interim Chief Watson were part of the initial meeting between the FSIN and the new Provincial Minister Responsible for First Nation and Metis Relations Jim Reiter as well as the new Legislative Secretary to the Premier on First Nation Relations MLA Rob Norris.
Vice Chief Bird was able to share his concerns about the following items:
• Education parity funding (we are underfunded by approximately 40% compared to the province)
• Imm igration is only part of the solution to Saskatchewan's labour shortage, First Nations must be involved as full partners in the province's workforce.
• Impact Benefit agreements
• Revenue Resource Sharing agreements (this is our Treaty Right)
• Our Treaty Right to education
Minister Reiter stated he is looking forward to deeper, more meaningful discussions on each of these issues in the months and years to come.
AFN National Meeting Future of First Nations Education
The AFN has scheduled a CCOE-NIEC conference call on Thursday September 6, 2012 at 10 A.M. (SK time) to discuss the specific agenda for a National Chiefs Assembly focussed on education scheduled for October 2-4, 2012, in Gatineau, Que. Vice Chief Bird believe the voices of Saskatchewan Chiefs, through the Education Commission Chiefs, needs to be heard on this conference call. In order to facilitate as many chiefs as possible in being involved in the planning process, we have had to move the SIETC to Wednesday September 05, 2012.
The AFN has stated this Chief's Assembly will give them the mandate and direction for First Nations education. I believe this is the next step in fulfilling the National Education Panel recommendation for Federal Education legislation. This disregards the FSIN resolutions for AFN to "to cease and desist in its efforts to repeal sections of the Indian Act until such time as the Federal Government and First Nations have agreed to a formal process that guarantees Inherent and Treaty Rights and responsibility will not be diminished or abrogated; and that the Chiefs-in-Assembly direct the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) to cease and desist involvement in process that may lead to negotiating legislation that may have negative impact on the recognition and implementation of Inherent and Treaty Rights and responsibilities."
Meeting Date Change
The Saskatchewan Indian Education and Training Commission meeting is being moved to September 05, 2012 at the Saskatoon Travelodge from 10:00am to 3:00pm.
Non-Insured Health Benefits
The First Nations and Inuit Health Branch have proposed the following changes to Non-Insured Health Benefits (NIHB) clients who access health coverage when accessing pharmacy services in Saskatchewan. This stems from the "Payer of Last Resort" implementation from NIHB in 1995. This required an employed First Nation individual to utilize any private insurance plan obtained through employment before NIHB coverage would pay for the accessed services. This process has only affected dental services at the on-set. Today, NIHB will enact changes to this by including pharmacy access for prescribed medications. This means that your private insurance will have to be utilized prior to presenting your Treaty card for NIHB coverage.
The result will have a financial impact for clients who present a prescription to the pharmacist. This requires the client to pay cash upfront before you can obtain the medications. You will then have to submit receipts to your insurance company, and in some cases, to NIHB for reimbursement of expenses incurred. Treaty First Nations prescriptions are usually approved by NIHB when you present the prescription to the pharmacist. Prior to this, NIHB accepted financial responsibility for payment of prescriptions for medications on the list of NIHB approved medications.
The changes will potentially result in increased waiting times to obtain prescribed medications if the employed client is short of cash to prepay for this out of pocket expense. Additional information will be forthcoming regarding this important issue.
Saskatchewan First Nation Veterans Association (SFNVA) Update
The SFNVA continue to travel to surrounding First Nations to gather information for headstone applications to the Last Post Fund for gravemarkers. They also have been busy attending different pow wows throughout the province carrying in the Flags at Grand Entries. Grand Chief Ray Sanderson attended the Honouring Our WW II Veterans Roundance at the FSIN Health and Wellness Conference on Aug 21, 2012. He thanked Veterans Henry Beaudry, Phillip Favel, Mike Laplante, Frank Tomkins and Virginia Pechawis for their service to our people on behalf of the SFNVA membership.
Bold Eagle 23 Update
Bold Eagle 23 held their graduation ceremonies on August 16, 2012 at the Western Area Training Centre in Wainwright, Alberta. A total of 81 of 92 graduated. Also, there were 8 awards handed out for the top recruits and 5 of our Saskatchewan Aboriginal youth won. Here are their names of this years' graduates and the winners of the 8 different awards:
Assoon, David Raymore, SK
Brown, Daylon Lloydminster, SK
Carriere, Kato Cumberland House, SK
Corrigal, Brent Canoe Lake, SK
Eashappie, Christine Regina, SK
Eyahpaise, Kenneth Marcelin, SK
Gamble, Julian Duck Lake, SK
Grey, Kruz Punnichy, SK
Hansen, Tayven Pinehouse Lake, SK
Iron, Ashton Canoe Narrows, SK
Jarrett, Jeremy Prince Albert, SK
Johnstone, Conrad Leask, SK
Kahnapace-Sparvier, Keegan Cowessess, SK
Lonethunder, Reese Carlyle, SK
Peters, Mason Sturgeon Lake, SK
Pinay, Andrew Regina, SK
Seesequasis-Mike, Kody Duck Lake, SK
Smoker, Dakota Whitewood, SK
Strongarm, Joshua Balcarres, SK
Watson, Tiffany Whitewood, SK
Yuzicappi, Dreyden Fort Qu'Appelle, SK
Bold Eagle Platoon 1209
Top Candidate: Private Flett R.
Second Place Candidate: Private Whiskeyjack T.
Most Improved Candidate: Private Lonethunder R. (Whitebear Nation)
Top Shot: Private Johnstone C. (Mistawasis First Nation)
Bold Eagle Platoon 1210
Top Candidate: Private Assoon D. (Kawacatoose First Nation)
Second Place Candidate: Private Ayoungman C.
Most Improved Candidate: Private Carrier K. (Cumberland House Metis Nation)
Top Shot: Private Smoker D. (Ochapowace First Nation)
FSIN Family Conference August 21, 22, 2012 in Saskatoon Prairieland
FSIN is hosted their annual Health Conference at the Saskatoon Prairieland Exhibition. Approximately 700 people attended the event over the course of 2 days. Conference programming included an array of various activities: Traditional Parenting, Children's Programming, Hand Games, Moccasin Making, Moccasin Games, a Youth Forum on Health Careers, a presentation on HIV / AIDS. There were also Plenary Sessions on the Office of the Child Advocate, Child Welfare and Jordan's Principle, NIHB, Panorama, Treaty Right to Health and an Elders Forum. The Elders appreciated the opportunity to meet together and made a recommendation for these types of gatherings to continue.
Two special events also took place: Healers from different Nations were available and performed healing ceremonies at the All Nations Healing Forum. There was also a Feast and Roundance at 7pm on August 21. The FSIN Health and Wellness Roundance honoured WW II Veterans Henry Beaudry, Michael Laplante, Phillip Favel all who saw action in Europe and WW II Veterans Frank Tomkins and Virginia Pechawis.
Upcoming Meeting Dates
September 7 and 8, 2012: Treaty 6, Fort Pitt, Onion Lake Cree Nation
September 10 – 14, 2012: Treaties 1-11 Gathering, Brandon, MB
September 18, 2012: Indian Justice Commission Meeting, 9:30 a.m. Country Squire Inn, Fort Qu'Appelle, SK
September 18 – 20, 2012: Treaty 4 Gathering, Fort Qu'Appelle, SK.