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The signing was attended by FSIN Chief Blaine Favel, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development Ron Irwin, Saskatchewan Lieutenant-Governor Jack Wiebe, Premier Roy Romanow, Minister of Indian and Metis Affairs Joanne Crofford and former Treaty Commissioner Cliff Wright. "This is an important and historic occasion," said the Honourable Jack Wiebe.
The Office of the Treaty Commissioner is the first and unique process of resolving land claims in Canada. The Memorandum of Agreement that renews the OTC for an additional five years was signed by Chief Favel and Minister lrwin. The FSIN and the federal government have been engaged in the process to renew the OTC since March of 1995. Their goal was to give the OTC a broader and more independent role in treaty implementation and self- government.
Under the terms of the agreement, the OTC is established as an independent body to coordinate and facilitate the bilateral process between the FSIN and the federal government; assist in defining the rights and obligations resulting from the Treaties; and monitor the implementation of those rights and obligations.
The mandate of the OTC has been expanded and now includes treaty rights
Minister Irwin, Chief Favel, Minister Crofford
signing protocol agreement
Minister Irwin, Chief Favel, Premier Romanow, Minister Crofford
with signed documents
The Protocol Agreement establishing a Common Table between the FSIN, the Crown and the Province was signed by Chief Favel, Minister Irwin and Minister Crofford. The Common Table will provide a forum for the parties to discuss issues of mutual concern and facilitate common understandings related to jurisdiction and fiscal matters.
Intended to identify and facilitate effective processes for negotiating and implementing self-government among Canada, First Nations and Saskatchewan, the Common Table will also be used to discuss the interrelationships between jurisdictions and fiscal arrangements related to the development of First Nations self-government.
The Common Table will consist of the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, the Minister of Indian and Metis Affairs and the Chief of the FSIN. Other Ministers or Vice-Chiefs may be invited to participate when matters falling within their scope of responsibility are being discussed. In addition, the Treaty Commissioner may facilitate the work of the Common Table with consent from each of the parties.
The agreement is effective for a five-year time period, during which the parties will meet on at least one occasion per year.
The final document signed was the draft Order-in-Council that will allow the Governor-General of Canada to proclaim the new Office of the Treaty Commissioner and the new Treaty Commissioner. The OTC and the Treaty Commissioner are independent from government.
Among the many duties of the Treaty Commissioner is the facilitation of meetings between the FSIN and the Crown and the arrangement of mediation services when requested by both parties. The Treaty Commissioner is also required to prepare an annual report with copies going to both the FSIN and the Crown.
The signings demonstrate the intent of the federal and provincial governments to begin examining their treaty obligations to First Nations people in Saskatchewan. In a statement after the signing ceremony, Chief Favel said, "We hadn't had [a fair and objective treaty process] prior to today. It's an historic move on the province's part. It's the first time they've acted on their commitment to the inherent right of self-government."
The Governor-General is expected to appoint the new Treaty Commissioner before the end of the year.