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ASSEMBLY OF MANITOBA CHIEFS SECRETARIAT INC.

2nd Floor 275 Portage Avenue Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 2B3 Telephone: (204) 956-0610 Fax: (204) 956-2109

January 11, 2016

Government of Saskatchewan
Attn.: Premier Brad Wall
226 Legislative Building
Regina, Saskatchewan S4S 0B3

An open letter to the Premier of Saskatchewan


Dear Premier Wall,
RE:

FOOD SECURITY AND TREATY RIGHTS

Please accept this letter as an expression of concern and disappointment over hunting matters
transpiring in the ancestral & treaty lands of Indigenous peoples, now referred to as Saskatchewan and
Manitoba.
As you are hopefully aware, Treaties negotiated between Indigenous Nations and the Crown are the
foundation of all laws and Constitutions that bind both provincial and federal governments in Canada.
Treaties are referenced in Canadas Constitution and special provisions have been negotiated by leaders
of the past to ensure that Treaties are respected in perpetuity. This basic understanding should be
foundational to any leader in any form or type of government.
Treaties created rights for all parties who might join us in a new Treaty based relationship. More
particularly, Treaties allowed for the establishment of land tenure systems that would open up the land
for settlement in lands otherwise used and lived upon by Indigenous peoples. This means, practically
speaking, that the fee simple land tenure system that is to the benefit of those who can participate, is a
right accruing to all parties as participants in the land tenure system flowing from Treaty. This is
particularly important in any discussion regarding rights of access and right of ways needed to affirm
other commitments of the Treaty based relationship.
Treaties also affirmed freedoms of the Indigenous peoples who have always called these lands our
home. These freedoms include unencumbered access to our ancestral lands in pursuit of vocations that
keep us healthy and alive. In negotiating Treaty, under no circumstances was their agreement that any
Crown agency or legislative regime would set regulations, policy or law to encumber the freedoms of
the Indigenous participants to Treaty. To do so, is to restrict a freedom and compromise the food
security of our communities. This would undoubtedly require significant negotiation and justifications
that are not currently apparent. Common law jurisprudence in Canadian domestic courts affirms this
principle.
In recent weeks, a questionable and uncertain set of circumstances has resulted in your governments
attempt to frustrate and/or or prevent Indigenous hunters from exercising their freedoms in our
ancestral lands. These attempts include; the use of threat of force; forced disclosures of otherwise

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HEAD OFFICE: Swan Lake First Nation Unit 9-4820 Portage Avenue Headingley, Manitoba R4H 1C8

Premier Brad Wall


January 11, 2016
Page 2
private information; threat of infringements on liberty and threat of public labeling of Indigenous
hunters as outside of the scope of lawful persons. Being that there is no lawful or duly authorized basis
in law for these actions to be undertaken against Indigenous hunters, these actions have been taken as
harassment, bullying and outside the scope of authority of provincial governments employees. These
tactics are being employed by men and women bearing arms and wearing the crest of the province of
Saskatchewan in the commissioning of their activities.
Well established Canadian legal precedent ensuring Indigenous access to land and our healthy food
sources has been hard fought in a post-1982 Canada. These standards bind all persons in regulatory,
legislative and compliance capacities. As such, it is apparent that any attempt to execute the
mechanisms of law enforcement or compliance must meet the minimum standards as set in Canadian
law in order to be lawful.
The indices of health for Indigenous peoples identifies that we need access to our traditional food
sources in order to live long healthy lives. In recent decades, it is inarguable that there is a correlation
between a growing limitation of access to our traditional food sources and the explosion of diabetes to
epidemic levels in our families. As such, the ability of a hunter to bring home natural foods to their
families is critical to the health of the family.
In light of the issues at hand, I would like to extend to you the opportunity to meet with Indigenous
leadership to begin a discussion about deconstructing the colonial legal and regulatory regimes of the
past and begin moving in the direction of truth and reconciliation. To this end, I will always be personally
open to meet with you.
Respectfully submitted,
ASSEMBLY OF MANITOBA CHIEFS

Derek J. Nepinak, LLB, B.A.(Hons.)


Grand Chief, Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs
cc.

Chief Bobby Cameron, Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations


National Chief Perry Bellegarde, Assembly of First Nations
Premier Greg Selinger, Province of Manitoba
Manitoba Chiefs

HEAD OFFICE: Swan Lake First Nation Unit 9-4820 Portage Avenue Headingley, Manitoba R4H 1C8