March 31, 2017
The Kaministikominahiko-skak Cree Nation (Cumberland Island people) are signatory to Treaty #5, however, the Federal Government has continued in its refusal to recognize us as a separate and a distinct Cree Nation under Treaty 5.
Accordingly, the KCN people have been waiting over 140 years for the federal government to do the right thing, and honor the treaty promises they made with our ancestors at the time of Treaty signing at Cumberland Island.
In the meantime, we have over 1200 Cree Nations members and most of them live on the Cumberland Island and continue to practice their social, cultural, and economic traditions. Furthermore, we have other members who have indicated they want to come home once KCN is recognized as a Treaty 5 Nation.
In August, 2014, the Kaministikominahiko-skak Cree Nation (KCN) formerly known as the John Cochrane Band launched a lawsuit against Perry Bellegarde, former Chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) for the improper handling of our membership in the FSIN.
Research shows that the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations formerly the FSIN represents 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan.
According to its web page the FSIN is committed to honoring the spirit and intent of the Treaties, as well as the promotion, protection and the implementation of the Treaty promises that were made “to our people” more than a century ago.
Further, “the mission of the FSIN is to serve and benefit every citizen of every First Nation in a fair and just manner based up on our distinct cultures, laws and customs to the Spirit and Intent of Treaty.”
On March 14, 2017, in a written CBC News Story on the FSIN shows that the leadership were not too happy with the province’s handling of the selling of Crown lands in Saskatchewan, and the way the province was consulting with the First Nations people.
They believed that “First Nations should have been given the chance to buy the land under Treaty Land Entitlement Rules”. On the other hand, the leadership believed that they could “no longer sit idly by while the provincial government was disrespecting Treaty rights. If they are not willing to work with us on a political solution, then we will see them in court.”
Why the double standard? In 2009 the FSIN dis-respected KCN Sovereignty and Treaty rights for the improper handling of our membership in the FSIN.
We followed all the proper steps – and were unanimously (100%) approved by the Indian Government Commission and a resolution was passed for us to sign the FSIN Convention at the Fall Assembly in 2009.
Instead of doing the honorable thing, the FSIN choose to take our membership off the agenda because of the objection from the Chief of the Cumberland House Cree Nation. As a result, the FSIN Convention was violated. Similarly, the Sovereignty, and the political autonomy of the KCN people was compromised.
It’s been seven years now, and we have been trying to work with the FSIN to get the last step of the membership process completed. However, they have refused to work with us because we are not a recognized Band under the Indian Act.
Recently, the FSIN has been accepting other Bands who are not recognized by the Indian Act. So, why the double standard?
In 2010 Indigenous Nations Chiefs from Treaty 1 to 11 gathered on October 12-15, at the Conexus Center in Regina to discuss treaty rights and to develop strategies to advance, promote and exercise Treaty.
At the conference, they passed a resolution supporting the Kaministikominahiko-skak Cree People (KCN). They wanted our Nation de-amalgamated and re-established so we could gain all the rights, benefits, and lands guaranteed under Treaty 5.
Furthermore, they called the amalgamation of Indian Bands as “wrongful and immoral”, and they demanded “a process based upon mutually beneficial relationships that form the spirit and intent of the treaties within current international standards.”
Finally, why is it so important for us to be a member Nation of the FSIN?
The founding Chiefs and Nations who established the FSIN had a vision for a better future for our people and worked hard to create what is now known as the FSIN.
It was founded on our traditional governing practices, and to protect the inherent and treaty rights of all First Nations.
We still believe in the FSIN Convention and its commitment to unity which will promote and advance our Sovereign status as a Cree Nation and to advance our Treaty and Inherent Rights.
We believe that the Kaministikominahiko-skak Cree Nation will strengthen the FSIN and return it to its founding principles.
If you have any questions on this matter I can be reached at 1 (306) 970-4453.
Chief John Dorion