HOME OF THE KAMINISTIKOMINAHIKO-SKAK CREE NATION

Presentation to the Senate Committee on Aboriginal Affairs

ON BEHALF OF THE KAMINISTIKOMINAHIKO-SKAK “THE SPRUCE ISLAND PEOPLE” I THANK THE HONOURABLE SENATORS FOR THIS OPPORTUNITY TO TELL YOU ABOUT CANADA’S UNFINISHED TREATY BUSINESS WITH US, AND WHY WE WANT YOU TO RECOGNIZE US AS THE “JOHN COCHRANE FIRST NATION”

133 YEARS AGO, OUR CHIEF, JOHN COCHRANE SIGNED AN ADHESION TO TREATY 5 ON BEHALF OF SEVERAL SMALLER, ISOLATED BANDS IN THE CUMBERLAND HOUSE REGION.

IN ORDER TO FAST TRACK TREATY SIGNING BY THE SMALLER, MORE ISOLATED BANDS, THE USUAL PRACTISE OF TREATY COMMISSIONERS WAS TO AMALGAMATE SEVERAL OF THEM INTO A “TEMPORARY” ADMINISTRATIVE UNIT, OR SUPER BAND, AND HAVE IT SIGN TREATY.

IN OUR CASE, WE WERE LUMPED TOGETHER WITH SEVERAL NEIGHBOURING BANDS INTO WHAT WAS CALLED
“CUMBERLAND BAND”. THE OTHER COMMUNITIES AMALGAMATED WERE THE PINE BLUFF BAND, THE BUDD’S POINT BAND, AND THE BIRCH RIVER BAND.

THERE IS NO EVIDENCE THAT THESE BANDS AGREED TO BE AMALGAMATED.

LATER, FEDERAL ORDERS-IN-COUNCIL WOULD BE ISSUED THAT RESTORED EACH SUPERBAND COMPONENT AS SEPARATE, INDIVIDUAL BANDS. FOR EXAMPLE, THE FOLLOWING MANITOBA AND SASKATCHEWAN FIRST NATIONS WERE DE-AMALGAMATED:

IN OUR REGION, THE PAS MOUNTAIN SUPER BAND WAS DE-AMALGAMATED OR DONE AWAY WITH, AND RE-INSTATED AS SEPARATE, INDIVIDUAL BANDS WERE:

1. THE PAS BAND;
2. THE RED EARTH BAND; AND
3. THE SHOAL LAKE, BAND.

IN THE LARONGE REGION, THE JIMMY ROBERTS SUPER BAND WAS DE-AMALGAMATED OR DONE AWAY WITH, AND REINSTATED AS SEPARATE, INDIVIDUAL BANDS WERE:

1. THE LARONGE BAND;
2. THE MONTREAL LAKE BAND; AND
3. THE PETER BALLANTYNE BAND.

IN MANITOBA, THE ISLAND LAKE SUPER BAND WAS DE-AMALGAMATED OR DONE AWAY WITH, AND REINSTATED AS SEPARATE, INDIVIDUAL BANDS WERE:

1. THE WASKAMAK BAND;
2. THE ST. THERESA POINT BAND;
3. THE RED SUCKER LAKE BAND; AND
4. THE GARDEN HILL BAND

FOR REASONS BEST KNOWN TO CANADA, IT ARBRITRARILY STOPPED SHORT OF FINISHING HER TREATY BUSINESS WITH US. INSTEAD OF ISSUING US OUR ORDER-IN COUNCIL RECOGNITION AS KAMINISTIKOMNAHIKO-SKAK, WE WERE OFFERED THE OLD “BAIT AND SWITCH” CON.

WE COULD CONTINUE WAITING FOR CANADA TO FULLFILL HER TREATY OBLIGATIONS WITH US, OR WE COULD RECEIVE IMMEDIATE HELP IF WE WOULD SURRENDER OUR INDIAN AND TREATY STATUS AND SIGN ONTO METIS SCRIP INSTEAD.

THIS GRIEVOUS BREACH OF THE GOVERNMENT’S TRUST RESPONSIBILITY RESULTED IN MANY OF OUR BAND MEMBERS BECOMING NON-STATUS INDIANS. OVER THE NEXT FEW YEARS, MANY WHO HAD DONE SO WERE ALLOWED TO SWITCH BACK.

THE 1901 ANNUAL REPORT ON INDIAN AFFAIRS WROTE ABOUT INDIANS DISCHARGED FROM TREATY VIA SCRIP, “SOME OF THEM HAVE APPLIED AND HAVE BEEN READMITTED TO TREATY ON THE UNDERSTANDING THAT THE SHARES OF ANNUITY THAT WOULD OTHEWISE BE PAID TO THEM SHALL BE WITHELD UNTIL THE GOVERNMENT SHALL HAVE RECEIVED BACK THE VALUE OF THE LAND SCRIP GIVEN THEM AS HALFBREEDS WHEN THEY WITHDREW”

MOREOVER, WHEN THE FERGUSON ROYAL COMMISSION COMPLETED ITS EXHAUSTIVE INVESTIGATION INTO FRAUD AND SPECULATION ON INDIAN LANDS IN 1914, PARLIAMENT REFUSED TO TABLE IT.

THE ROYAL COMMISSION DESCRIBED THE GOVERNMENT’S ENTIRE SCRIP POLICY AS A VAST SCHEME WHOSE SOLE PURPOSE WAS DESIGNED TO DEPRIVE ABORIGINAL PEOPLE OF THEIR LAND.

(For your reference we have a copy of a review we did on the Ferguson Royal Commission. It illustrates the type of fraud and breaches of treaties that government officials were involved in during the days of treaty implementation.

Also, the document clearly shows an attitude of indifference towards the laws of Canada by these officials who were our trustees. It also shows their intolerance towards First Nation people and a total disrespect of the treaties.

THE GOVERNMENT’S BREACH OF FUDICIARY RESPONSIBILITY IS CLEAR. ALL WE ASK IS TO BE TREATED FAIRLY AND THE SAME CONSIDERATION GIVEN TO OTHER DE-AMALGAMETED BANDS BE GIVEN TO US AS WELL.

CURRENTLY OUR BAND HAS OVER 1100 MEMBERS- ALL OF WHOM CAN BE TRACED BACK TO TREATY SIGNING. MOST ARE CONSIDERED NON-STATUS INDIANS AND METIS. SOME HAVE REGAINED THEIR INDIAN STATUS THROUGH BILLC31. BUT ACCORDING TO OUR ELDERS, SCRIP OR BILL C31 WERE NEVER PART OF THE TREATY #5 ADHESION.

WE WERE A BAND BEFORE TREATY. AT THE TIME OF TREATY WE WERE “TEMPORARILY” AMALGAMATED IN ORDER TO FAST TRACK THE ADHESION TO TREATY BY THE SMALLER ISOLATED BANDS. DESPITE BEING IN A LEGAL LIMBO EVER SINCE, OUR BAND REMAINS INTACT.

WE CONTINUE TO SPEAK THE CREE LANGUAGE. WE HUNT, TRAP, AND FISH. WE CARRY ON WITH ALL OUR SOCIAL AND CULTURAL TRADITIONS.

OUR ANCESTORS UNDERSTOOD TREATY WAS TO LAST AS LONG AS THE SUN SHINES, THE RIVERS FLOW, AND THE GRASS GROWS. AND WE UNDERSTAND THAT SECTION 35 OF THE CONSTITUTION CONFIRMS THIS.

FOR YOUR REFERENCE WE WILL BE PROVIDING YOU WITH A COPY OF OUR THREE VOLUME SUBMISSION TO INDIAN AFFAIRS AND ACOPY OF OUR PROPOSAL FOR A NEWLY CONSTITUED BAND.

IN CLOSING, WE ASK THE GOVERNMENT OF CANADA TO RESOLVE ITS 133 YEAR OLD UNFINISHED TREATY BUSINESS WITH US BY GRANTING OFFICIAL RECOGNITION OF THE “KAMINISTIKOMINAHIKO-SKAK” BAND AS THE JOHN COCHRANE FIRST NATION.

EKOSI, THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME AND THANK YOU FOR LISTENING.