Saskatchewan First Nation Declares Economic Sovereignty

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In July of 1764 near what the Anishinabek called “the crooked place” – Niagara Falls – Sir William Johnson, Superintendent of Indian Affairs for British North America, met with some 2500 Chiefs and headmen to create an alliance that would be key to they creation of Canada. – illustration by Charles Hebert
In July of 1764 near what the Anishinabek called “the crooked place” – Niagara Falls – Sir William Johnson, Superintendent of Indian Affairs for British North America, met with some 2500 Chiefs and headmen to create an alliance that would be key to they creation of Canada. – illustration by Charles Hebert

CUMBERLAND HOUSE CREE NATION, SK – Treaty 5 Territory – A Saskatchewan First Nation has declared economic sovereignty.

Chief Rene Chaboyer Statement

Today, on behalf of my Nation, I have released a Declaration regarding economic sovereignty on Cumberland House Cree Nation  territory. The impoverished state of our nation is perpetuated by legislative agenda of the settler society directed at our people. This can no longer be tolerated. We are also announcing the development of our own laws and mechanisms under our terms, to protect our sacred gathering place -Kitaskīnaw.

We made treaty with the Crown as sovereign nations. Our treaty did not take away our authority and ownership to the land. Today, our declaration reaffirms our sovereignty and asserts greater economic and environmental control over our territory. As of today, we are open for business with our allies and partners – some of whom are here today. We are also willing to work with other jurisdictions on permitting and licensing and to conserve our homelands especially in the area known as Kitaskīnaw. If we need to sign a treaty with other jurisdictions to conserve our lands, then I am open to doing that.

Today, we have proclaimed the Cumberland House Cree Nation Declaration on Jurisdiction and Protection of Kitaskīnaw that sets out a manifesto (policy) on economic development and the protection of the delta. The declaration is built upon a larger Treaty 5 declaration in accordance with our law on the sharing of lands and natural resources with the settler society.

Cumberland House Cree Nation plans to break down the economic barriers that exist in Indian country. In the past, the Indian Act prohibited trade and commerce to deliberately oppress Indian business and has had a negative intergenerational social and economic impact. The Natural Resources Transfer Act also took away our commercial rights and ensures we don’t make a living off our natural resources. This is our land, and we should all stand against legislative subjugation, and we will break down those economic barriers with the help of our partners.

I am honoured to declare economic prosperity and to strengthen our economy for Cumberland House Cree Nation which I believe will be achieved as a concerted effort through partnership agreements. I am also pleased that these partners recognize our authority and are willing to enter into these business arrangements, which is a requirement in doing business in Treaty 5 territory as stated in the Natural Resource Declaration in Treaty 5 Territory. The sharing of the benefits from our resources with our consent through business arrangement will be a business model in Treaty 5 territory. It is also Cumberland House’s position to protect the wetlands which is a gift from the Creator that accords a sacred responsibility.

As Chief of Cumberland House Cree Nation, I have the responsibility of putting into practice transparency and accountability in accordance with our customs.

Kinanaskomatin.

Cumberland House Cree Nation Declaration on the Jurisdiction and Protection of the Kitaskīnaw

Cumberland House Cree Nation is a Sovereign Nation, and let it be known to everyone, we have title to our homelands that is everlasting. We made Treaty No. 5 with the Crown based on mutual promises and a promise to live in peace and friendship. We have always upheld those promises and our Treaties are as much alive today as they were in 1875.

Our lands, our laws and our way of life are sacred gifts from Kise-Manito. Our rights and who we are as a people flow directly from the relationship that we have with Kise-Manito, our lands, and with all living beings who share it. We have sacred responsibilities to maintain these relationships, and to protect the gifts Kise-Manito has bestowed us for future generations.

The Kitaskīnaw also known as the Saskatchewan River Delta is one of our greatest gifts. The Kitaskīnaw has sustained and supported our people since time immemorial. It is central to our survival, our way of life and connection to all things. It is also central to the exercise of our Aboriginal and Treaty Rights. It is the heart of the Boreal Forest; its western source and many tributaries sustain life in the Kitaskīnaw. It is a sanctuary for all beings that share its waters; it is vital to migratory birds and animals; its wetlands filter the waters and store carbon from the air.

We are all connected to the Kitaskīnaw. We also have a sacred duty to protect it. In this uncertain world, we know that we must put the land, water, and wildlife first. We must act to protect the Kitaskīnaw against present and future threats. We will uphold our responsibilities and the protocols we establish, to ensure that future generations can continue to share the many gifts that the Kitaskīnaw brings.

We will work to create new opportunities for our people to foster economic and social well-being. We will strive for natural resource equity and shared wealth as models for business development. Environmental protection and maintaining the Kitaskīnaw is our priority and is a solution to many of the challenges that we face. It is an opportunity to use the empirical knowledge of our Elders for the good of mankind, and to do things that matter for the planet.

Today, we declare that the Kitaskīnaw is formally protected under our laws, a sacred place that we will continue to look after forever. The Kitaskīnaw will continue to be a place for all creation to live and thrive as Kise-Manito intended. We will uphold our jurisdiction and responsibilities to protect the Kitaskīnaw against outside threats. We will establish our protocols and standards and our consent will be required for the use of the Kitaskīnaw. We will apply our traditional knowledge to heal the damage that has already been done and work together to share the Kitaskīnaw’s many gifts with our Treaty partners. We will welcome allies and supporters of our work, and we will build partnerships with others under mutual understandings to help achieve our goals.

As Kise-Manito is our witness, this is our Declaration made at a Special Gathering held on this 10th day of June 2021 on the Ancestral Territory of the Ininew. This Declaration is made in accordance with the customary and natural laws of our people.