Treaty 8 chief slams plan to sell Crown ter­ri­tory

Ken­ney ac­cused of fail­ing to con­sult First Na­tions in bomb­shell pro­posal

Calgary Herald - - CITY+REGION - EMMA GRANEY [email protected]­media.com twit­ter.com/Em­maLGraney

ED­MON­TON Ja­son Ken­ney can ex­pect one heck of a court bat­tle if he’s elected in 2019 and forges ahead with his plan to sell off 100,000 acres of Crown land in North­ern Al­berta, says Treaty 8 Grand Chief Arthur Noskey.

Noskey was one of a group of Treaty 8 chiefs to travel to Ed­mon­ton on Thurs­day to voice their con­cerns about Ken­ney’s pro­posal.

The UCP leader first floated the pro­posal at the Ru­ral Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties of Al­berta con­fer­ence last month.

It echoes a sim­i­lar pro­gram un­der former premier Ed Stel­mach, in which 120,000 acres of Crown land were auc­tioned off to the high­est bid­der and turned into farm land.

Noskey said the news was some­thing of a bomb­shell, con­sid­er­ing his com­mu­nity wasn’t ap­proached about the plan — no email, no phone call, noth­ing, he said.

“It gets to a point where we’re in­sulted,” he said.

“On one hand, I just came from the as­sem­bly and all par­ties in there are say­ing that they rec­og­nize treaty and con­sti­tu­tion­ally pro­tected rights, but when it comes to the ground level they’re not ... con­sult­ing on that.”

Ken­ney said he heard of no con­cerns from Abo­rig­i­nal com­mu­ni­ties un­der the Stel­mach plan, but Noskey said that’s be­cause no­body heard about it un­til after it was done.

“Is that a way for gov­ern­ment to deal with First Na­tions? Un­der the ta­ble?” Noskey said.

For Noskey, the pro­posal boils down to un­der­stand­ing Treaty rights.

“I won­der if Ja­son Ken­ney’s in­tent ... is to un­der­mine Treaty by deal­ing on things that af­fect Treaty with­out con­sult­ing First Na­tions,” he wrote in a state­ment he pre­pared for Indige­nous Re­la­tions Min­is­ter Richard Fee­han.

Ken­ney said Thurs­day he would lis­ten to First Na­tions and other stake­hold­ers, but added “Macken­zie County Coun­cil has unan­i­mously re­quested we look at an ex­ten­sion of the land auc­tion from 10 years ago.”

“This is not land in a re­serve or Treaty area – it’s Crown land, and it’s land that be­longs to Al­ber­tans which is not be­ing put to eco­nomic use right now,” Ken­ney said.

“The whole prov­ince was built on con­vert­ing Crown land into pro­duc­tive eco­nomic use, and the no­tion that all of North­ern Al­berta should sud­denly be turned into a park runs con­trary to our en­tire his­tory as a peo­ple.”

To that, Noskey pointed out there is a cur­rent out­stand­ing land claim set­tle­ment with the Beaver First Na­tion that in­cludes land in Peace Coun­try.

“That goes to show how un­in­formed Ja­son Ken­ney and his United Con­ser­va­tive Party is when it comes to the cur­rent pro­cesses and is­sues at the ta­ble,” he wrote.

Fee­han said he was “ap­palled” at Ken­ney ’s un­der­stand­ing of Treaty.

“When­ever we do any­thing on Crown land ... you have to do the con­sul­ta­tion with the ap­pro­pri­ate First Na­tion in that area. That’s just stan­dard pol­icy fed­er­ally, provin­cially across the coun­try,” Fee­han said.

Macken­zie County reeve Josh Knelsen has said the pro­gram 10 years ago was an eco­nomic and em­ploy­ment boon for the re­gion.

How­ever, some en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists have raised the point that Crown lands are crit­i­cal to bio­di­ver­sity.

ED KAISER

Treaty 8 Grand Chief Arthur Noskey voices his dis­plea­sure to me­dia in Ed­mon­ton on Thurs­day about UCP Leader Ja­son Ken­ney’s pro­posal to sell off 1000,000 acres of Crown land in North­ern Al­berta.

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