By Jeremy Appel, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
(ANNews) – Assembly of First Nations National (AFN) Chief Roseanne Archibald visited Papaschase First Nation on March 23 as part of a tour of First Nations across Western Canada.
The visit comes as Papaschase seeks official recognition from the federal government, which would allow the Cree nation to assume control over its Treaty lands in south Edmonton.
Papaschase has elected a chief and council since 1999.
Despite a lack of official recognition from the Crown, Papaschase Chief Calvin Bruneau sits on the AFN Chief’s Committee on Lands, Territories and Resources.
Bruneau spoke to Archibald about the trauma inflicted upon Papaschase First Nation through its illegal forced amalgamation with Enoch Cree Nation in 1888 based on a vote of three of Papaschase’s 249 band members.
Both nations have been separated from their reserve lands they were awarded after signing Treaty 6 at Fort Edmonton in 1877, which make up 40 per cent of the City of Edmonton’s lands, including unmarked gravesites.
“Acts of reconciliation must be thoughtful, respectful, and meaningful,” Chief Bruneau said in a news release announcing his meeting with the National Chief.
The large number of unhoused Indigenous people in Edmonton makes one “wonder what could be if Papaschase was given just reconciliation and recognition for the loss of Reserve #136,” he added.
According to the Edmonton Social Planning Council, Indigenous people make up just six per cent of Edmonton’s population but almost two-thirds of its unhoused population.