Rallies in several cities on May 27 drew attention to the concerns among Indigenous peoples about the federal government’s legislative and policy “Framework” to force First Nations (Treaty & Non-Treaty) into signing new modern agreements. Many fear that this Framework will terminate existing Indigenous Nations’ sovereignty, jurisdiction and original relationship with the lands, territories and resources.

A statement circulated by organizers says, “Since being elected in 2015, the Trudeau government has been implementing its national pan-Indigenous approach through various top-down, back-room processes using the three National Indigenous Organizations, including the Assembly of First Nations to “co-develop” changes to policy and law. The AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde has signed two agreements with the federal government: one on developing a new fiscal policy and one on shared priorities…

“Since February 2019, the federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, Carolyn Bennett has been conducting a selective engagement process to replace the ‘Inherent Right’ and Comprehensive Land Claims Policies with a new “Rights-Based” Policy by June 2019. Minister Bennett has publicly said the federal government is working with their “partners” to replace these policies… To get support for their new policy changes, the federal government has announced it is forgiving/repaying $1.4 billion loans to those groups negotiating/settling under the comprehensive land claims policy.

“Conclusion: … It seems the “rights-based” Policy contemplated for release June 2019, will be based on using the current “Modern Treaties”, “Self-Government Agreements” and First Nations specific legislation as precedents and templates for “rights-based” negotiations with those First Nations (Treaty & Non-Treaty) who have not entered into negotiations under Canada’s self-government/comprehensive claims policies or opted into First Nations specific legislation outside of the Indian Act, like the First Nations Land Management Act or the First Nations Financial Management Act.”

(To provide context and background for this development, People’s Voice reprints in this issue a commentary by long-time Indigenous activist Russ Diabo.)

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