Indian and Northern Affairs Canada

Indian and Northern Affairs Canada

March 26, 2008 13:05 ET

Minister Strahl, National Chief Fontaine and Chief Joseph Open First-Ever Treaty Implementation Conference in Saskatoon

SASKATOON, SASKATCHEWAN--(Marketwire - March 26, 2008) - The Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Metis and Non-Status Indians joined National Chief Phil Fontaine of the Assembly of First Nations ( (AFN) and Chief Lawrence Joseph of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations in Saskatoon ( today to attend the opening ceremonies of the AFN-Canada Treaty Implementation Conference.

"I am honoured to attend this historic event as this conference marks the first time that Elders, leaders and delegates from First Nations and government have gathered together to discuss these important issues," stated Minister Strahl. "Treaties are about strengthening relationships and provide the basis for forward looking partnership with First Nations. This conference is an opportunity to explore these important issues in a spirit of cooperation and look for common ground in moving forward together in order to build a better future for First Nations people."

"This is an incredibly important meeting for all First Nations in Canada. Treaties made between the Crown and First Nations are at the centre of our relationship with Canadians which is based on mutual respect and mutual recognition. Treaties are not relics of the past. Viewing treaties as 'living' agreements and implementing them fully is essential to achieving progress for us and Canadians. This conference provides an excellent opportunity to discuss how our treaties should be implemented in an effective and honourable fashion," National Chief Phil Fontaine said.

The unique two-day conference, entitled "As Long as the Sun Shines," brings together First Nation delegates from across the country, federal representatives and various experts to discuss key matters relating to the implementation of First Nation treaties in Canada. The focus of the discussions is to explore perspectives and opportunities to move forward on a common understanding for treaty implementation.

"Our intention is to develop a goal-oriented plan, through this conference, that is similar to the Specific Claims model that is currently in progress." Joseph says. "In this way, we can move forward on Treaty Implementation in a strategic way, based on mutual respect, that brings about real change", Chief Lawrence Joseph added.

Treaty rights are recognized and affirmed in section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. Canada recognizes 70 historic treaties signed between 1701 and 1923. The conference focuses on these treaties, which reflect the distinctive role of First Nations in Canadian history.

Treaties are solemn agreements that set out promises, obligations and benefits for both parties. The continuing treaty relationship provides a context of mutual rights and responsibilities that will ensure Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people can together enjoy Canada's benefits.

News release ( and Historic Treaty Map are also available on the Internet (

Contact Information

  • Minister Strahl's Office
    Office of the Honourable Chuck Strahl
    Josee Bellemare
    Press Secretary
    INAC Media Relations
    AFN Contact
    Joan McEwen
    Director of Communications
    613-241-6789 ext. 242
    Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations
    Reta Guilbault
    Executive Director, Communications