Onion Lake Cree Nation
First Nations across the country have identified Canada's most recent legislative push (Bill C-69, Bill C-91, Bill C-92), and sweeping changes to Indigenous rights policies) as piecemeal implementation of the "Indigenous Rights Framework". In December 2018, Chiefs unanimously rejected the Framework and associated processes sent a clear message to Canada that real change was needed. Despite this, Canada continues to use the same old colonial tricks by unilaterally developing laws and policies designed to assimilate our peoples and terminate our Inherent Rights. The present process is disjointed and is intentionally designed to disguise Canada's real objectives. This is no way to implement our right to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC).
Chiefs are calling into question the promise that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made as part of his platform to deliver on a new nation-to-nation process. "In the wake of questions around this government's actions ethically, Canada needs to wake up and respond to our ongoing request to implement the true spirit and intent of the Treaty relationship" stated the Council from O'Chiese First Nation. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called for reconciliation but instead has continued to promote the destruction of our Nations. Canada cannot pick and choose what rights we as First Nations are "allowed" to assert and treat us as lesser people on our own lands.
First Nations have confirmed that the "co-development" of policy and legislation leaves rights holders out of the process through pre-determined mandates, preselected engagement sessions, and manufactured consent. In the early stages of the co-development process, a few First Nations representatives are invited to attend meetings and provide feedback on Canada's predetermined mandate. As the process moves along, First Nations rights holders are completely excluded in favor of token representation from national organizations. Further, the majority of "co-developed" documents are not made widely available, reinforcing Canada's top-down approach and overall lack of transparency.
In the end, First Nations must simply trust Canada to respect their Inherent Rights when policy and legislation are drafted without them. The result is First Nations' needs and interests being continually sidelined and the advancement of Canada's termination agenda through various forms of delegated authority. This is the modern face of colonialization.
Nothing has changed since John A. Macdonald or Pierre Elliott Trudeau. It is the same old agenda: do whatever is necessary to solve the Indian Problem, terminate Inherent Rights, and remove Indigenous Peoples from their lands. "We will not continue to support agendas and processes that undermine the sovereignty and self-determination of our Nations and peoples" stated Okimaw Lewis of Onion Lake Cree Nation. As a successor state, Canada is only here because of Treaty. We as First Nations are the Original Peoples of these lands and have not given up our rights. The co-development process and imposed agendas must end.