(March 17, 2017) – Treaty 8 Chiefs are expressing their cautious optimism after the release of the Alberta Budget this week.
“After all the discussion the Premier has had with the media regarding working with First Nations, it is now time to implement the rhetoric about the Alberta government’s willingness to work with us,” stated Chief Rupert Meneen, Grand Chief of Treaty 8 First Nations of Alberta, before adding, “we have serious issues with many of the laws, regulations and policies in this province and it sounds like she is willing to step forward with some action.”
The budget states there will be investment in our communities to address the long-standing socio-economic problems plaguing First Nation communities; things like the deaths of children in provincial care, inadequate water systems, a rejected provincial consultation system and others. There is optimism about the renewed focus on the environment and housing. That optimism is tempered by a lack of consultation on resource revenue sharing, pipeline access, jurisdiction, intrusive educational programs and other First Nation priorities.
“We must caution this government that despite their rhetoric there has not been much consultation with Treaty 8 Chiefs on the matters most important to them. This government is halfway into their mandate and while Treaty 8 Chiefs have been patient there will be a point when First Nations say “No More.” The one thing I can guarantee is that the Chiefs of Treaty No. 8 (Alberta) are willing to put in the work necessary for a successful partnership with the province and make a better future for all our children; it’s time and our communities need it,” stated Chief Meneen.
“The Premier made a commitment to jointly develop action oriented solutions that can help our communities,” stated Grand Chief Meneed before continuing, “We know that changes must be made so that everyone, First Nations and Albertans, live in prosperous, healthy communities. Treaty 8 was signed so that our people would continue to benefit from the land as we shared with the newcomers. Do not forget that Treaty 8 territory is the economic engine of the province and this country.”