The Cumberland House Cree Nation and the Metis people of Cumberland have received money from the federal government and have entered into an agreement with the provincial government to map traditional territories in the Cumberland House region.
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) and the provincial government are ignoring their duty to consult with the John Cochrane people because they claim that we are not a recognized band.
INAC and the provincial government have made an assumption and a decision as to where the John Cochrane people fit. They have “lumped” us in with the Cumberland House Cree Nation people and the Metis people of Cumberland.
Why should John Cochrane First Nation (JCFN) be involved in Mapping Traditional territories in the Cumberland House region?
The Kaministikominahiko-skak Cree people have occupied Cumberland House territory since before Treaty, they occupied it at the time the band signed Treaty, and they still occupy it today.
These traditional territories belong to John Cochrane First Nation - Kaministikominahiko-skak Cree people. The provincial government, the Cumberland House Cree Nation and the Metis are trying to map out territories that do not belong to them.
If the Mapping of Cumberland House region traditional territory goes ahead without consultation with the JCFN people, we believe the information they gather will not be valid. The ownership of these lands and resources was established 134 years ago by Chief John Cochrane when he signed an Adhesion to Treaty 5.
Once the map is completed, the Cumberland House Cree Nation and the Metis will claim John Cochrane First Nation lands as their traditional territory. This means that the government and industry will not have to consult with or accommodate John Cochrane Band members when resource development is being planned in the Cumberland region.
Where do the Cumberland House Cree Nation people come from?
The Cumberland House Cree Nation is an evolution of the Pine Bluff Band and most of the people do not come from Cumberland House. The Cumberland House region is not their traditional territory. Their traditional territories and inherent rights to land and resources are at Pine Bluff, 30 KM north-west of Cumberland House.
The Pine Bluff people were moved by Indian Affairs from their territory at Pine Bluff to our territory in the 1960’s. Eventually they occupied the reserve on Cumberland Island. This land was for the John Cochrane First Nation - Kaministikominahiko-skak Cree people.
The Kaministikominahiko-skak Cree people were never asked or consulted. The Indian agent made an independent decision to move the Pine Bluff people to Cumberland House and by doing so failed to protect the rights of the John Cochrane people.
Why won’t INAC consult with John Cochrane First Nation people?
INAC maintains that we are not part of the “new band amalgamation policy”, that we are not recognized as a separate band and therefore they have no duty to consult with the John Cochrane people.
INAC says that we have not provided the proof that John Cochrane First Nation should be re-instated. They have ignored the JCFN re-instatement documents.
John Cochrane First Nation first submitted their three volume re-instatement research and supporting documentation on June 25, 2006 to INAC and the Treaty Commissioner and re-submitted the submission again in 2008. We are still waiting for a response from INAC and the Treaty Commissioner - Bill Knight. In our submission, the research and legal documentation support our claim for inherent rights to the traditional lands and resources in the Cumberland House region.
What is Band Amalgamation? Why is this important?
In 1875, Treaty 5 was signed by Chief John Cochrane through an amalgamation process. Amalgamation basically means that the government lumped together separate, smaller, isolated bands into large, big, “super bands”. This was a process set up by Indian Affairs to speed up the signing process (to make it easier for the government).
When our Chief signed that agreement it was understood that the larger super band the government had created would be temporary. The government agreed to recognize each band and re-instate them as separate and distinct First Nations.
Over time the government did re-instate many bands across western Canada such as Shoal Lake and Red Earth. But they have never re-instated John Cochrane First Nation as they promised when they signed Treaty 5.
What do the John Cochrane First Nation - Kaministikominahiko-skak Cree people need to do?
As members of the John Cochrane First Nation we have the responsibility to protect our Treaty rights and our traditional territories for our future generations. We need to make our voices heard and honour our ancestors by speaking out for our inherent rights to our territories and resources. The John Cochrane people have the right to assert their authority over their traditional territory.
John Cochrane First Nation Statements
- John Cochrane First Nation (JCFN) is a distinct and separate band.
- John Cochrane First Nation - The Kaministikominahiko-skak Cree people have occupied Cumberland House territory since before Treaty, they occupied it at the time the band signed Treaty, and they still occupy it today.
- Regardless of our status we are still Treaty Indians. Our band signed Treaty 5 and our inherent rights to our traditional territories and all its resources are protected.
- The federal government “New Band Amalgamation Policy” does not apply to JCFN.
- The Cumberland House Cree Nation (formerly the Pine Bluff people) and the Metis do not have the authority to speak or represent the John Cochrane people.
- By not consulting the JCFN people, they are violating the Treaty 5 agreements signed in 1876.
- The federal government has not finished their Treaty business with JCFN.
Chief John Dorion