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PTNA Meets With Mulroney

Deanna Wuttunee

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      SEPTEMBER 1985      p08  
PTNA representatives in session with Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, INAC Minister David Crombie, and Justice Minister John Crosbie
PTNA representatives in session with Prime
Minister Brian Mulroney, INAC Minister
David Crombie, and Justice Minister John Crosbie.
Prime Minister greets PTNA spokesman Sol Sanderson
The Prime Minister greets PTNA spokesman
Sol Sanderson

A delegation of Prairie Treaty Nations Alliance (PTNA) representatives met with Prime Minister Brian Mulroney on Sept. 24 in Ottawa in a bid to initiate bilateral talks on constitutional changes.

Federal Justice Minister John Crosbie and Indian Affairs Minister David Crombie were also present at the meeting.

They felt the prime minister was receptive to their concerns. Mulroney confirmed past commitments to set up a bilateral process which will deal with them.

They were denied official seats at the April, 1985, Multi-lateral Conference as PTNA delegates.

"The bilateral process is definitely underway with the prime minister," said FSIN Chief and PTNA spokesman, Sol Sanderson.

The alliance put forth six major agenda items dealing with bilateral agreements. Canada/Indian political relations outlining basic principles included the sovereignty of Indian Nations. The Royal Commission headed by MacDonald acknowledged that the Royal Proclamation does give recognition to Indian Nationhood in Canada.

Another agenda item was fiscal arrangements and delivery systems. The terms of reference will be basically the Penner Report, the Constitution, any new fiscal relation arrangements, the treaties and new structures of the organization.

Economic and constitutional relations were also discussed, along with the options that can be pursued. Hitches to the implementation of Bill C-31 and the treaty-making process was another topic.

The last item was the federal jurisdictional powers that are not affected by the provincial government. This addresses Indian Nations' and Indian governments' jurisdictions and specific arrangements that impact on the prairies and the treaties.

An example of this is the Natural Resources Agreement.

"The Natural Resources Transfer Agreement exists in the prairies and nowhere else in Canada. This makes our arrangement completely different. It acknowledges domestic law, the recognition of the continuing title to resources off reserve and in treaty territory," said Chief Sanderson.

Immediate concerns were fiscal arrangements and the termination of colonial and devolution policies that are tailored to the 1840 detribalization policy. They also sought a bilateral review and formalization of relations.

They reminded the prime minister that the government and the people of Canada acquired what they have now from Indians through the bilateral processes of treaties and the Proclamation on a government to government basis.

They wanted to deal with the government in the very formal way it was established. The present arrangements are terribly offensive to our people', said Chief Sanderson.


PTNA Meets With Mulroney

Deanna Wuttunee

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      SEPTEMBER 1985      p09  
Harold Cardinal, INAC Minister David Crombie, and Unidentified PTNA representatives
Left to Right: Harold Cardinal, INAC Minister David Crombie, and Unidentified PTNA representatives
David Crombie and Sol Sanderson
David Crombie, Minister of Indian Affairs, confers with Sol Sanderson
Richard Behn, Sol Sanderson, Ken Courchene, and Harold Cardinal
Left to right: Richard Behn, Sol Sanderson, Ken Courchene, and Harold Cardinal at a press conference in Ottawa after meeting Prime Minister Brian Mulroney

The development of legislation to protect treaties under the newly adopted constitution were hampered by the provincial and federal governments who saw constitutional rights for Indian and Metis as a aboriginal front. Joint jurisdiction over Indians has served to reinforce this position.

PTNA rejected the `melting pot' concept and have sought to establish Indian government within the framework of the treaties and inherent rights. Their treaty concerns under the AFN umbrella were obscured at the last constitutional table by collective bargaining with other native groups. The bilateral process confines future talks to the federal government and PTNA. After all, the treaties were bilateral agreements. The consensus of PTNA is that traditional benefits and rights under treaties will be diluted in a multi-lateral process. They have demanded a moratorium on federal/provincial agreements that pertain to their First Nations.

The meeting represented a landmark in the struggle to entrench treaty rights in the newly adopted constitution. The fast approaching deadline of April, 1987 for entrenchment of these rights was the catalyst in the PTNA's accelerated political lobbying activities and in the dramatic breakaway from PTNA.

The organization is seeking $2.3 million in core funding from the government. It represents 114 bands with a population total of 107,000.

"I don't pretend to be an expert at that (Indian Government). But I'll continue to work at it the best as I can," said Prime Minister Mulroney.