Cree columnist Doug Cuthand says the federal government isn’t living up to the numbered treaties on the Prairies.
The treaties, signed in 1876, were supposed to be about peace, friendship, working together and farming.
“It guarantees everybody who wants to start farming will get a hoe, and a rake and a pitchfork and a whole bunch of stuff like that,” said Cuthand, a columnist with the Star Phoenix, on the season finale of Nation to Nation. “And the band would be eligible for a team of oxen and some horses and boar and piglets and all kinds of stuff.”
But the promises of tools to work the land never came.
With all the recent talk of reconciliation, Cuthand suggests the federal government should start repairing the spirit and intent of the treaties. As an example he used some land for sale in Saskatchewan known as the Pfeiffer pastures.
“(They) are being sold out here in Saskatchewan and our people aren’t getting any chance to bid on them or get them at all,” he said. “They’re just going to the white coops, settlers and ranchers and the same thing with all the minerals that were taken out of this land.
“We haven’t received anything in terms of revenue sharing. If we had, we wouldn’t be poor today. We’d have an economy, we’d have resources and infrastructure on our reserves, that type of thing.”
University of Ottawa political scientist gave a mixed review of Ottawa’s performance this past year
Veldon Coburn, a professor at the University of Ottawa, said there’s still drinking water advisories on 27 First Nations in Canada and that training is lacking in regards to water and waste water treatments in communities.
“We’re still very far behind, there’s gaps in areas of socio-economic indicators such as education and health,” he said on Nation to Nation.
Despite this, Coburn did give Crown Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller a passing grade.
“He’s accomplished more than all Indigenous ministers, or the Indian agent as it were, combined. So you see these large amounts of funding that have flowed in and it can kind of boggle the mind of the accomplishments that he’s made,” said Coburn.
“Again it does fall short, but he’s again done more than anyone else prior.”
The largest First Nation in Nova Scotia has a verbal interim understanding with DFO
The Mi’kmaw communities of Potlotek and We’koqma’q have been harvesting lobster for a moderate livelihood under an agreement with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. The Eskasoni First Nation joined them this week.
Eskasoni Chief Leroy Denny told Nation to Nations that he is hopeful it will bring peace to their waters.
“First of all to have a Mi’kmaw led plan, developed by our fishers, to work with the DFO to help us,” he said. “The past few years we developed this plan, and there has been a lot of issues and challenges, but finally you know, these few years, we’ve been working with our fishers to find our way forward.”
Eskasoni fishers have seen harassment over their rights to fish for a moderate livelihood. Denny, however, said they have been very patient through it all.
“The courts told them 24 years ago, that they need to make room for the treaty right protected fishery here, and so it’s, there has been many, many harassments over the years, harassments by the DFO, by local fishers you know, traps being taken and sank and death threats and shot at and all these things are happening,” he told N2N host Annette Francis.
“Those things have to stop, they need to, the industry has to understand and respect our treaty rights and I think to have a more welcoming place and we have to really work together and so it’s starting to happen now slowly.”