REGINA - Today, Official Opposition Critic for First Nation and Metis Relations Betty Nippi-Albright was joined at the Legislature by Okimaw Henry Lewis from Onion Lake Cree Nation, the Council of Onion Lake Cree Nation and Indigenous leaders from across the province to call on the Sask. Party government to halt the upcoming online Crown Land Lease Auction and meaningfully consult with First Nations.
“Consultation, if it is happening at all, is minimal at best,” said Nippi-Albright. “The lack of meaningful consultation is a hallmark of this Sask. Party government.”
Leaders from Onion Lake say they were not properly notified of the online auction but were first made aware of it after visiting the Government's website. Onion Lake Cree Nation Okimaw Henry Lewis added that “the loss of use due to Crown Land leases that are up to 33 years result in the unjustifiable infringement of our Treaty Rights to meaningfully hunt, trap, fish, harvest and gather on our traditional territories.”
An example of potential loss of traditional land use is the case of Yellow Quill First Nation. On December 30, 2022, they received a letter from the Sask. Party government regarding their relocation from their traditional gathering territory and provided them with 39 days to respond. This would mark the second time the provincial government has asked Yellow Quill First Nation to relocate from their traditional gathering territory.
Sask. Party Ministers have admitted that their Duty to Consult framework is outdated and ineffective.
“When you have a government that acknowledges their shortfalls but still refuses to address them, it's clear that they’re just paying lip service to the Duty to Consult and Reconciliation,” said Nippi-Albright. “This is why Indigenous communities are so frustrated. If you have a flat tire, you aren’t going to just point it out and keep driving — you do the work necessary to fix it!”
The Official Opposition NDP reiterates its call for the Government of Saskatchewan to stop the sell-off and lease of Crown Lands, codify the Duty to Consult framework in legislation and stop the displacement of Indigenous peoples from their traditional gathering territories.