Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN)

Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN)

August 08, 2013 15:28 ET

Open Dialogue Needed on Treaties

SASKATOON, SASKATCHEWAN--(Marketwired - Aug. 8, 2013) - As the United Nations prepares to mark International Day of the World's Indigenous People on August 9th, the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) today called for open dialogue about the meaning of Treaties in Canada and internationally. According to the UN website:

"[T]he theme aims to highlight the importance of honouring arrangements between States, their citizens and indigenous peoples that were designed to recognize indigenous peoples' rights to their lands and establish a framework for living in proximity and entering into economic relationships. Agreements also outline a political vision of different sovereign peoples living together on the same land, according to the principles of friendship, cooperation and peace. A special event at UN Headquarters in New York will be held on Friday, 9 August, starting at 3pm, featuring the UN Secretary- General, the Chairperson of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, a delegate of Panama, a representative of the Office of the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights, and an indigenous representative. The event will be webcast live at webtv.un.org.

Also on 9 August, hundreds of indigenous and non-indigenous rowers are scheduled to arrive at Pier 96 at 57th Street in Manhattan at 10am, after having collectively travelled thousands of miles on rivers and horsebacks to honour the first treaty -- the Two Row Wampum -- concluded between Dutch immigrants and the Haudenosaunee (a confederacy of six nations, with capital in the Onondaga nation, in NY State) 400 years ago, in 1613. They will gather with members of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza at 1:30pm."

"This year's theme is 'Indigenous peoples building alliances: Honouring treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements'," said Chief Bellegarde on behalf of the FSIN Executive. "This is a good opportunity for anyone who is interested in the treaty relationship to learn more about this issue. It is also a good opportunity to start and deepen dialogue. This year's theme is also timely given recent history."

The FSIN has been seeking formal recognition and effective implementation of Indigenous rights to free, prior and informed consent with respect to development in Indigenous territories. Such rights have been affirmed both in Canada by the courts and internationally by the United Nations.

"The FSIN will take advantage of every opportunity for engaging in dialogue on issues of mutual concern. Starting in the near future, we will seek to embrace and create opportunities for dialogue. It's easy to shout at each other during protests and from across blockades and barricades, but the harder work begins when we sit down, face to face, across the negotiating table. While dialogue might be the tougher path to navigate, the harder work is what will bear fruit in the end," added Chief Bellegarde.

Chief Bellegarde has recently put forth two proposals intended to facilitate progress on these matters:

  1. A national, independent Treaty Commissioner to mediate disputes and speed up implementation and enforcement of Treaties with the appropriate mandate and authorities accountable to Indigenous peoples and the Crown; and

  2. A new federal ministry called "Canada-First Nations Relations," with a much broader mandate than the current Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC).

"It is my hope that these two concepts will help facilitate dialogue concerning two main, over-arching issues: resource revenue-sharing and self-determination as a preliminary step. Focusing on these two main as a priority will make it easier for us to address the other issues," concluded Chief Bellegarde.

For more information on the International Day: http://www.un.org/en/events/indigenousday/

Information on the FSIN's efforts will be posted as it becomes available: http://www.fsin.com

The FSIN represents 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan. The Federation is committed to honouring the spirit and intent of Treaty, as well as the promotion, protection and implementation of the Treaty promises that were made more than a century ago.

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