It is always difficult to figure out what is happening with major issues in politics and how people are affected. A recent issue I have been watching makes me wonder how bright our leaders in government actually are. The federal government, which has been doing a fairly good job in dealing with Indigenous people in this country, went off the rails when they decided to push through legislation regarding the Métis Self-Government Recognition and Implementation Agreement.
The only thing the government did with this move was to create division and conflict between people. It was made without any consultation or participation of Indigenous leaders, organizations or peoples. The Chiefs of Wabun Tribal Council dealt with this negative effort by the government by taking them to court as their only means to stop this questionable and non-inclusive legislation.
What on earth is the federal government thinking? After all the terror of colonization, residential schools, the Sixties scoop and keeping my people marginalized and poverty stricken for hundreds of years, the government passed legislation that affects Indigenous treaties without any consultation.
Saner heads might be prevailing as the issue of this draconian legislation is brewing. But as far as I know there has not been a meeting of minds in terms yet of pausing legislation and to address the concerns of First Nations.
There remain many issues that must be addressed in treaty negotiations and righting the wrongs of a few hundred years of colonization, even though this is not a conservative government that stomps on our rights and creates conflict. We also have the benefit of a minority government which helps in making sure that the Indigenous-friendly New Democratic Party can hold them to task.
On a more positive viewpoint, a $10 billion settlement agreed to by the federal and Ontario governments has been reached to respond to the claim by the Chiefs of the Robinson Huron Treaty Litigation Fund concerning unpaid annuities for exploiting the resources of Indigenous lands since the mid-19th century.
Under the treaty signed by the British crown with Robinson Huron First Nations in 1850, members were paid annual amounts of only four dollars. Incredibly, that amount has not increased although governments, resource extraction corporations and other business have seen billions in wealth attained though initiatives on Indigenous lands.
Here is an example of a fair meeting of minds and meaningful compensation to right past wrongs. I salute the federal and provincial governments for settling this injustice in a good way. Now I look forward to this process developing to its just result while I know myself and Indigenous leaders, organizations and people across Canada are looking at this as a precedent as we all were cheated with the same pay system of a pittance over more than 170 years.
The last thing we need in this country is more division and conflict, so it is good to see that governments do realize that any policy that promotes this negative reality can only lead to terrible results. On the other hand, consulting with Indigenous leadership and peoples will create an environment of trust and lead to financial growth, resource development and a fairer sharing of wealth for us all. It is time to make things right.