Treaty 8 First Nations will not sit idle

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

The Treaty 8 First Nations of Alberta are calling on the Government of Alberta to suspend new forestry legislation until concerns about impacts on inherent and Treaty rights are addressed.

In December 2020, Alberta enacted Bill 40, which amends the provincial Forests Act. The new legislation includes provisions which reduce ministerial oversight, streamlines the licensing process, and increases the amount of timber that can be harvested annually.

“Bill 40 will have a direct impact on our territories and on our inherent and Treaty rights,” says Treaty 8 First Nations of Alberta Grand Chief Arthur Noskey.

“The Province should have consulted with us from the outset on a government-to-government basis to make sure that our rights were protected.”

But that did not happen.

Instead, Noskey says the government “went ahead and passed the bill into law without talking to us.”

Treaty 8 First Nations in Alberta holds inherent and Treaty rights in relation to lands and waters in Treaty No. 8 that are recognized and affirmed under Canadian law.

The Nations are responsible under their own laws for ensuring their territories remain healthy and protected for current and future generations to pursue their traditional way of life and livelihood.

“We entered into Treaty No. 8 based on the Crown’s promise that we would be able to continue to hunt and fish as we had before the treaty,” says Noskey.

“The Province is responsible for fulfilling those promises and upholding the honour of the Crown.

“It is not honourable to blindside us by enacting new laws without open and sincere consultation with our Nations.”

He vows every effort will be made to protect those rights.

“That includes holding the Province accountable for ignoring the direction of the Supreme Court and disrespecting our Treaty.

“We expect the Province to suspend the new Forest Act immediately, and to meet with the Treaty 8 chiefs to address how the Province intends to uphold their obligations under Treaty.”

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