Chiefs of Canada’s First Nations call on feds on National Indigenous Peoples Day

Indigenous chiefs from several territories are voicing concerns about a federal plan that could see the Indian act being repealed.

On Wednesday, National Indigenous Peoples Day, chiefs of Canada’s Treaty Lands are calling on the federal government to halt the repealing of the Indian Act and meet with the nations on unfinished treaty business, something they say has yet to happen thus far.

A statement from the Treaty Chiefs of Onion Lake Cree Nation, O’Chiese First Nation, Kehewin Cree Nation, Saddle Lake First Nation, Tsuut’ina Nation, James Smith Cree Nation, Beaver Lake Cree Nation, Beaver First Nation, Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation, Cold Lake First Nation, Alexander First Nation, Frog Lake First Nation, Louis Bull Tribe, Montana First Nation, Ermineskin Cree Nation and Ochapowace Nation, released Wednesday, says members of the nations have not met with Canada thus far on plans that will “impact [them] for generations.”

They say the chiefs have been following the development of the country’s United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Action Plan (UNDA), and they haven’t been consulted on the several goals or methods outlined in the final action plan, including repealing the Indian Act.

“To make this announcement on the summer solstice, one of the most sacred days for our peoples is deceptive — while our people are celebrating our culture, language and existence,” the press release said, in part.

“As a Treaty Nation, we are disappointed that Canada has moved ahead to develop a termination action plan — a reboot of the failed 1969 white paper — without Treaty Nations that will have lasting generational impacts on our peoples,” said Okimaw Lewis from Onion Lake Cree Nation.

“For example, Treaty citizens were transformed into statutory Indians in 1951– there have been no discussions about the impacts of this, if the Indian Act was immediately

Abolishing the Act without returning “to the path of Treaty” continues to “violate our right to free prior and informed consent,” according to Tsuut’ina Nation’s Xakijii Roy Whitney, who adds repealing the Indian Act put Indigenous land at risk and moves nations into a municipal structure of land governance which is in violation of Treaty.

The chiefs ask the feds to enter into “meaningful discussions” to talk about the true spirit and intent of Treaties, explaining they “[reject] Canada’s ongoing agenda that aims to transform us into municipalities and another level of local government.”

Also highlighted in the statement is the role of Treaties in the creation of Canada in 1867.

Furthermore, the chiefs are asking all Treaty Peoples and Nations to organize a day of prayer on Wednesday, June 21, and a day of action on July 1.

“Canada must know that we do not agree with their municipalization agenda that aims to transform us into minorities and municipalities within our own lands,” they said.

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