Editor’s note: The following was issued by Treaty 8 First Nations June 3:
As the original Cree and Dene peoples, we affirm our connection to our lands, waters, air, animals, environment, and resources since time immemorial.
Our inherent rights and jurisdiction were given to us by the Creator and our ancestors through sacred affirmations and ceremony. Our natural laws are based on our people’s relationship with our unceded lands, waters, plants, animals, ceremonies, spirituality, customs, languages, and traditions.
Despite many attempts to assimilate us, extinguish our identities and way of life, our nationhood is stronger than ever.
On June 1, 2021, [Alberta Premier] Jason Kenney spoke in admiration about “his founding forefather,” John A. Macdonald. It is this founder who created the plan to “kill the Indian,” the architect of Residential Schools who imposed the Indian Act upon First Nations.
Everything imaginable was done to annihilate our peoples who entered an International Treaty with the Queen so her settlers could share our lands.
The veering leadership under MacDonald stems from the Doctrine of Discovery, emanated from a series of Papal Bulls, used to impose a ‘legal’ and ‘moral’ justification for colonial dispossession of our lands and our Sovereign Nations in what is now called Canada. This presumed racial superiority was used to exploit and subjugate our peoples and is contrary to the Sovereign Relationship between our Treaty 8 Nations and the Queen.
The ‘cancel culture’ Kenney speaks of in regards to ‘Canadian history’ may in actuality be the cause of his own eventual demise.
MacDonald championed this work and if you hear anyone fondly refer to their founding forefathers who enacted such horrific policies, they are speaking from a perspective of being on a ship coming towards our own ancestors.
Kenney perpetuates a narrative that is laced in racism, domination, denial and manipulation of the true history, a colonial system that has implemented such horrific actions into policy that still exists today.
Let us not forget the Sixties Scoop and how they continued this legacy, and how this policy is still practiced today through their Children’s Services Ministry.
On May 31, UCP representative Rick Wilson announced Alberta’s intentions to fund research and to find “the burials of hundreds of Indigenous Children who did not make their way home.”
This is a disgraceful, opportunistic, blanket statement from a government disinterested in reconciliation. There was no meaningful dialogue with the Sovereign Nations of Treaty No. 8 to discuss any of this work despite the fact that there were 11 Residential Schools within Treaty No. 8 [AB].
UCP representative Adriana LaGrange issued a similar statement on Twitter and writes that she “can’t begin to imagine the horrific feeling of losing a child.”
These children were not lost, they were stolen. These 215 Indigenous children were murdered, buried, and forgotten; their parents were never told – victims of white settler colonialism. The insincere and hypocritical statement from a minister who rewrote and stands by a provincial curriculum drafted in the name of ethno-eurocentrism. The same minister who has supported the erasure of information about the residential school system in Alberta’s draft K-12 curriculum.
“We all know that the extermination policies of the federal government, such as the residential schools, stems from the Indian Act; if we are to right the wrongs that this is the place to start,” says Grand Chief of Education Billy Joe Laboucan, speaking to Alberta Education’s curriculum.
Chris Champion, who was appointed by Kenney and instrumental in developing the new curriculum, is the editor of The Dorchester Review – a self-proclaimed “authoritative and contrarian” journal. The Dorchester Review, in a tweet here, supports TRC recommendations as long as “the discoveries are not hijacked by fanatics in support of some deranged far-led claim of deliberate murder and genocide.”
The Dorchester Review also replied to Sean Carleton, editor at Active History, that “the cause of death [in residential schools] was usually tuberculosis or some other disease.”
These statements show the ignorance and racist views staff and leadership at the Government of Alberta have of our Indigenous communities, Elders, Knowledge Keepers, and our truths. Champion has never been disavowed by the UCP.
Instead of actively confronting the problem and working with Treaty partners, the UCP government continues to employ people who would rather confront and demean the experiences of the victims of the residential school system.
Kenney issued a single statement on Twitter about the atrocities committed, while Matt Wolf, the executive director of Issues Management, managed to retweet a single news article – without making a statement himself.
It is disgusting and hurtful to see these words come from the premier, ministers, and their staff when they do not call out others who make excuses for genocide. Their actions do not align with their statements.
Yet on Monday, the UCP government celebrated 91 years since the Dominion of Canada illegally transferred our natural resources to the Province through the Natural Resources Transfer Act.
Again, celebrating the exploitation of our way of life and subjugating our peoples.
The citizens of the Treaty No. 8 Sovereign Nations question the UCP’s ethics and philosophy. Their actions, including their recent legislation, bills, regulations, and media statements are once again opportunistic and contradictory to their actions.