by Treaty 8 First Nations (Alberta)
Edmonton, Alberta – April 2, 2019 – With the election in Alberta looming, the parties have released and are promoting the various policies they plan to implement if they get the go ahead from voters in Alberta. Chiefs, Elders and First Nations are in for quite a surprise when they go and look at the Policy Declaration from the United Conservative Party regarding Indigenous policy. Not only is it brief, coming it at 3 statements, but those statements aren’t exactly hitting the right note with First Nations.
“Not only is it unbelievably short, but the very first statement seems geared to draw anger out of First Nations within Treaty 8 [Alberta],” states Arthur Noskey, Grand Chief of Treaty 8 First Nations of Alberta.
The statement the Grand Chief is referring to is directly from the UCP Policy Declaration which states “the UCP is committed to the ultimate goal of treating and recognizing all Albertans as equal under law.”
“This is completely insulting to First Nations and brings to my mind all those people who ask how come those Indians get government programs and that they need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. This is a strange policy statement from the former federal Minister for dealing with Multiculturalism and one that ignores all the uniqueness that we have as the First Peoples of this land, the Treaty relationship with the Crown, and the statistically proven disadvantage our people face in Canada.” states the Grand Chief.
“Quite frankly, what makes this even worse is that we sat down with Jason Kenney and some UCP members and outlined our issues, I guess we didn’t even make a dent in their thinking.”
Another statement that is causing irritation is the 3rd statement of their 3-statement long platform, where they outline that “The United Conservative Party believes that the Government of Alberta should undertake and mandate accountability and transparency into all provincially funded Indigenous programs.”
“Again, this talk comes from a misguided idea that First Nations are unaccountable for the funding they are given. First Nations people are the most scrutinized group in all of Canada when it comes to funding. Our funding agreements contain so many deliverables, we are constantly audited and scrutinized. To be clear, our Nations and organizations are always under a microscope.” states the Grand Chief.
“When a Conservative Senator, under the government that Kenney was part of, gets caught up in a funding controversy no one is screaming for more scrutiny for them. Yet here in Alberta, where everything has been running fine, we need more accountability? Two different groups being treated so differently seems discriminatory to me.”
Chief Trevor Mercredi of Beaver First Nation echoes the feelings of the Grand Chief on the UCP’s Indigenous platform and goes further by stating “that First Nations will resist any unilateral movement made by any political party forming government.”
When it comes to the upcoming election, the Grand Chief had this to say: “the platform of the UCP clearly shows that they know nothing or can’t be bothered with Indigenous people, Treaty, and what issues we are dealing with.”
“Everyone is free to vote how they wish, but I will be voting and it will not be for Kenney and I hope I am not alone,”
states the Grand Chief.
“I want to send a message to all the people of Treaty 8 [Alberta], as your Grand Chief I am calling all Treaty 8 peoples to come together. We need to unite and enact our own laws for the land and who we were as people. These laws being brought in are being created by a government that did not exist before Treaty and they do not reflect who we are as a people and what we value. Jason Kenney, if he wins, can feel free to make laws for all the Albertans he’d like but we, as Treaty 8 people, should be making laws for ourselves.”