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Treaty Governance Processes

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      WINTER 1999/2000      v30 n01 p22  
IN 1996 THE CHIEFS OF SASKATCHEWAN MANDATED THE FEDERATION OF SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN NATIONS (FSIN) TO ENSURE THAT APPROPRIATE ARRANGEMENTS WERE IN PLACE FOR THE IMPLIMENTATION OF TREATIES AND THE RECOGNITION OF FIRST NATIONS' JURISDICTION.


EXECUTIVE PORTFOLIO: CHIEF PERRY BELLEGARDE

Senator Jacob Bill “...It was the will of the Creator that the whiteman would come here and live with us, among us to share our lives together with him, and also both of us collectively to benefit from the bounty of mother Earth for all time to come... that is the value and the true nature, and spirit and intent of treaty on both sides, and its for both to benefit...”

Senator Jacob Bill Pelican Lake First Nation,1997

Treaty No. 6

TREATY TABLE
Beginning in July 1996, the FSIN and the Government of Canada initiated a workplan to establish the Treaty Table, a forum for the discussion of treaty rights and/or jurisdictions.

The Treaty Table is a bilateral process involving Treaty First Nations and the federal government. The provincial government observes the proceedings. Based on discussions at the Treaty Table, the FSIN and the Government of Canada signed a Memorandum of Agreement in October of 1996. This agreement laid the groundwork for technical and political discussions about treaty rights and/or jurisdictions to begin.

The Treaty Table talks are intended to discuss, but not to renegotiate the treaties or to change the nation-to-nation relationship that exists between the parties to treaty. The parties agreed that through these talks, they would try to gain a better understanding of each others' views of treaty and try to reach a common understanding.

When the Treaty Table talks began, the FSIN and the Crown agreed to explore and discuss treaty rights and/or jurisdictions in seven areas: education, child welfare, justice, health, hunting, fishing, trapping & gathering, annuities and shelter. In 1999 they added an eighth topic: lands and resources. The FSIN relies extensively on Elders for assistance in preparing their presentations on these topics at the Treaty Table. The teachings and testimony of the Elders are the basis for the FSIN's contribution to the Treaty Table discussions.

In order to facilitate the Treaty Table talks, two Working Groups have been established, one on Treaty and Related Historic Sites and another on Acts of Renewal. These working groups were created to develop options to help inform and show public respect for the treaties and the treaty relationship.

The Office of the Treaty Commissioner (OTC) facilitates meetings of the Treaty Table and its working groups. Originally established in 1989, the OTC was renewed by the FSIN and the Government of Canada in 1996 for another five years and its mandate was expanded. The OTC also participates in public education and awareness of the treaty relationship and treaty history.

After the first phase of Treaty Table discussions, the Statement of Treaty Issues was published. During Phase 2, as each of the eight treaty areas is completed, the Treaty Table will report the results to the Common Table. The Treaty Table will guide and inform the work of the Governance Table and Fiscal Relations Table as they move forward to treaty-based government.


TREATY GOVERNANCE PROCESSES

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      WINTER 1999/2000      v30 n01 p23  
COMMON TABLE

The Common Table was created by a Protocol Agreement on October 31, 1996. The Common Table provides a forum for the FSIN Chief, the federal Minister of Indian Affairs and the provincial Minister of Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Affairs to:

Discuss treaty matters of mutual concern and priority that affect all three governments,

GOVERNANCE TABLE

The Governance Table was established to assist in defining the roles and responsibilities of First Nations, Saskatchewan and Canada on a range of governance, jurisdictional and programming matters. It is intended to facilitate the recognition and implementation of First Nations governance.

It was specifically agreed that the Governance Table would work to establish a new relationship that is consistent with and builds on the treaty relationship, and is consistent with the implementation of the inherent right of First Nations to govern themselves. Central to the work of this Table is the recognition by Canada and Saskatchewan of First Nation jurisdiction and authority to make laws and provide effective and efficient governance.

In August 1998, the Governance Table workplan was agreed to by Canada, Saskatchewan and the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations at the Common Table. During Phase 1 of the Governance Table talks, the Table focused on exploring the groundwork for recognizing and reaffirming First Nations jurisdiction, based on Treaty. Phase 2 will negotiate the terms and intergovernmental relationships required to re-establish First Nations governance. Governance capacity will also be discussed and developed.

As the work of the Governance Table proceeds, it will remain consistent with the established treaty relationship, while simultaneously building on this relationship and implementing the inherent right of self-government. The jurisdiction and authority of the parties and their relationship to each other will be recognized through this work and will provide for effective and efficient governance.

FISCAL RELATIONS TABLE

The FSIN, Canada and Saskatchewan established the Fiscal Relations Table in August 1997 through a Memorandum of Understanding. The Fiscal Relations Table works on financial or money-related issues of a Treaty-based government relationship. This government-to-government fiscal framework must be more than an annual financial funding agreement. It must enable the long-term delivery of First Nation's governance in a stable and predictable fiscal relationship with Canada and Saskatchewan.

In developing a fiscal framework, the Fiscal Relations Table maintains a number of priorities for the intended effect of a new fiscal relationship, including:

In developing a framework to enable healthier fiscal relationships for First Nation's government, the Fiscal Relations Table has researched and developed options in many areas of fiscal interaction. The issues being discussed and which will have to be negotiated in a fiscal framework include:

These fiscal priorities and mechanisms form a fiscal toolkit or framework that can be used to build a fiscal agreement to enable a newly developed governance relationship.


TREATY GOVERNANCE PROCESSES

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      WINTER 1999/2000      v30 n01 p24  
SOME COMMON UNDERSTANDINGS FROM THE TREATY TABLE

THE NATURE OF THE TREATY RELATIONSHIP

Photo Credit: Ted Whitecalf
Elder Gordon Oakes
“If we follow the teachings of our grandfathers, we will go a long way. But we are the teachers of our children. We have to tell them, and we have lost a great deal of practice...”

Elder Gordon Oakes
Nekaneet First Nation, 1997

PURPOSE OF TREATY-MAKING

TREATY RELATIONSHIP IN THE FUTURE

TREATY GOVERNANCE PROCESSES IN SASKATCHEWAN

In the Treaty Governance Processes there are two kinds of tables or forums: bilateral and trilateral.

Treaty Table bilateral talks are held between the two parties to Treaty- Canada and First Nations. Meetings are held once a month. Other talks are trilateral or tripartite. These discussions occur at the Common Table, the Governance Table and the Fiscal Relations Table.

The Common Table includes the Chief of the FSIN, the federal Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs and the provincial Minister of Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Affairs. The Common Table serves to discuss treaty and governance matters that affect all three parties. The Common Table created two other tripartite tables: the Governance Table and the Fiscal Relations Table. The Governance Table explores issues directly related to implementing the Treaties such as jurisdiction. The Fiscal Relations Table is developing a government-to-government fiscal relationship with new funding arrangements to support First Nation governments.

Treaty Governance Processes

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