The Chiefs of Treaty 6, 7 and 8 say they “take offence to” and “outright reject” Premier Danielle Smith’s forthcoming Alberta sovereignty bill.
In a joint statement issued Friday, the chiefs of all three of the province’s territories stated they are united in opposition to any claims being made over “our peoples, lands and territories.”
Few details of the legislation’s substance have been released, but Smith has said the bill would allow Alberta to opt out of federal measures deemed harmful to provincial interests and that it would be among the first to be introduced in the upcoming legislature session.
The chiefs say their treaties were made with the Crown, not Alberta, and that the provincial government has no say over their lands and territories.
“Smith’s proposed bill undermines the authority and duty of the Sovereign Nations that entered into treaty,” said Treaty 8 First Nations Grand Chief Arthur Noskey.
“How can the province make a sovereignty bill when our treaties were made before the creation of Alberta?”
Chief Darcy Dixon of Bearspaw Nation said “our treaties with the Crown are peace and friendship treaties that did not release any of our lands and territories.”
“Danielle Smith’s ploy to implement her Free Alberta Strategy undermines our rights already protected in their Constitution Act,” said Dixon.
Chief Tony Alexis of the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation added: “Our Treaties were made with the Crown and are international agreements. … Our primary responsibility is to uphold our Treaties for the future generations.”
The chiefs said if Premier Smith and the UCP government “want to erect invisible firewalls around Alberta, they can attempt to do so but our territories will stay intact because we are not giving our free prior and informed consent.”
If industry and government want to do business in our territories, they should come directly to the Chiefs of the Treaty Nations who have jurisdiction and authority over our lands and resources, the chiefs added.
The next session of the Alberta Legislature is to begin Nov. 29.
—With files from The Canadian Press