PRINCE ALBERT, SK – The recent federal government announcement that it will create a Recognition and Implementation of Rights Framework through national engagement activities, presents many thorny problems. The deep truth is that this will be a difficult task to achieve and implement before the next federal election in October 2019. Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs has indicated that it will be engaging with First Nations, Inuit and Métis “governments” but this ambiguous statement sets a low-standard of direction and commitment by leaving out the majority of Indigenous peoples who live off reserve and in urban environments.
Minister Carolyn Bennett has launched an unbalanced and tangled process focused on Indigneous organizations that are supported by federal funding. “We need to confront the reality that the proposed framework will have limited success in moving Indigenous cases out of the courts and onto the negotiating tables. The difficulty of overlapping jurisdictional powers will lead to ceaseless bickering and an influx of even more cases into the courts,” said John Hanikenne, President of the Coalition of Indigenous Peoples of Saskatchewan (CIPS).
In February 2018, the Department of Justice released ten principles respecting the Government of Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples. Instead of being the bedrock for the development of a new relationship, the principles have introduced a host of new problems and questions not easily answered. For example, principle 10 advances a “distinctions-based approach” which is a code phrase that supports discrimination, especially towards many Métis who do not wish to be part of the Metis National Council and its provincial organizations. The “distinctions-based approach” is locked in a historic time warp and fails to grasp the evolving nature of Indigenous cultural identity. In urban environments, where the majority of Indigenous people now live, there have been significant transformations and mixed identities are now commonplace in families.
The CIPS is an Indigenous advocacy organization representing the interests of status and non-status Indians living off-reserve and Métis. Since 2006, our organization has been advocating for the rights and interests of this constituency at provincial and national levels. We are an affiliate member of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, which is a national Aboriginal organization based in Ottawa.
For more information, contact:
John Hanikenne, President
Coalition of Indigenous Peoples of Saskatchewan
Email: Metisman9 [at] gmail [dot] com