“First Nations as rights holders must be actively involved in discussions about righting an historic wrong and reclaiming our natural resources”
–Grand Chief Daniels
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 12, 2023
ANISHINAABE AND DAKOTA TERRITORY, MB — Today, the Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO) is denouncing a statement made by the Premiers of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta regarding recent comments made about the Natural Resource Transfer Act and Natural Resource Transfer Agreements (NRTAs).
“NRTAs were created in the 1930s by the federal government to purposely exclude First Nations from benefitting from the wealth of our Territories, and instead give that control and financial windfall to the provinces,” stated SCO Grand Chief Jerry Daniels. “I am dismayed to see our prairie province Treaty partners wanting to continue that colonial trend. This is not about federal control over provincial resources, this is about First Nation control of our lands and resources.”
Last week, Canada’s Attorney General and Justice Minister David Lametti indicated the federal government would consider looking at the issue of Natural Resources Transfer Agreements to the four western provinces.
In response, the leaders of the prairie provinces, including Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson, as well as the leader of the federal Conservative party, Pierre Poilievre, have collectively spoken out against that possibility. They have even gone so far as to state that they will be relentless in defending their perceived jurisdiction and autonomy over natural resource wealth.
“How out of touch are these so-called Treaty partners?” queried Grand Chief Daniels. “Canada never had the authority to transfer jurisdiction of our lands and resources to the provinces and NRTAs are a violation of our Treaty rights. If the Premiers of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta have any interest in achieving meaningful reconciliation with the First Peoples of what is now known as Canada, they will not put up any roadblocks.”
SCO is calling on the federal and provincial governments to engage in full consultation with impacted First Nations in these potentially historic negotiations. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples must also factor into these discussions.
“This is about righting a tragic wrong and about finding ways to break out of the social and economic apartheid that colonial policies like NRTAs have on southern Chiefs and their Nations,” concluded Grand Chief Daniels. “I want to invite all parties to the table, so that together we can find ways to partner and build strong economic relationships that will benefit us all.”
The Southern Chiefs’ Organization represents 34 First Nations and more than 83,000 citizens in what is now called southern Manitoba. SCO is an independent political organization that protects, preserves, promotes, and enhances First Nations peoples’ inherent rights, languages, customs, and traditions through the application and implementation of the spirit and intent of the Treaty-making process.
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