REGINA - On this National Indigenous Peoples Day, Official Opposition Critic for First Nations and Metis Relations and Truth and Reconciliation Betty Nippi-Albright and Critic for Mental Health and Addictions Doyle Vermette are calling on the government to do more than talk about building trust with the Indigenous Peoples of Saskatchewan and to instead take urgent action to help lift them up.
“The Sask. Party continues to issue platitudes and land acknowledgements while refusing to take responsibility for their part in running residential schools in this province,” said Nippi-Albright. “While land acknowledgements sound good, crown land continues to be auctioned off to the highest bidder on treaty territories without meaningful consultation and while Treaty Land Entitlement Agreements are being ignored.”
In the last legislative sitting, Nippi-Albright tabled Bill 609 - The Meaningful Duty to Consult Act. This historic legislation came in response to the provincial government posting 8,392 acres of Crown land for public auction without meaningfully consulting Indigenous rights holders. The government has given no indication it will support the bill.
“How can the day be fully celebrated without acknowledging these important issues that continue to be ignored by this government? I ask the public to write to their MLAs imploring them to take ownership for the residential schools that were run by the province, release records to the survivors of these schools, honour the Treaty Land Entitlement Agreements, stop the sale of crown land and support Bill 609,” said Nippi-Albright.
The Sask. Party’s response to the mental health and addictions crisis has also raised questions about their commitment to reconciliation. The provincial government recently chose not to fulfill their obligations to adhere to Vermette’s suicide prevention bill and cut funding to its flagship suicide prevention program. In the dying days of the fall session, the Sask. Party rejected a motion to create a special bipartisan committee to study the issue despite rising and record suicides disproportionately affecting Indigenous Peoples.
“In times of crisis, governments step up, find the resources and people to help those who have been affected,” said Vermette. “Indigenous communities and families are being torn apart by the mental health and addictions crisis, and the government seems to be more focused on photo-ops than meaningfully showing up and supporting them. That must change.”