October 7, 2013 Email correspondence to James Anaya . The Kaministikominahiko-skak Cree Nation people from northeast Saskatchewan extend a warm welcome to James Anaya the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Please find attached a 4 page summative document of our peoples human rights struggles with the Canadian government. Simply stated the Canadian government has denied and ignored our Inherent sovereign rights and our treaty rights for 140 years. It is our hope that you can provide us with some means of achieving justice and fairness. On behalf of the Kaministikominahiko-skak Cree people, I thank you for your time and attention.
Chief John Dorion
Armand Dorion Headmen/council member
Nancy Dorion, Advisor to Chief
Kaministikominahiko-skak Cree Nation
Sub office: 304D, 1401 28th street east
Prince Albert, Saskatchewan Canada
S6V 6Z8 306 960-1393 or 306 929-4717
October 7, 2013
United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Greetings James Anaya,
The Kaministikominahiko-skak Cree Nation of northeastern Saskatchewan welcomes you to Turtle Island, home of the Original Indigenous Peoples of North America.
We are writing to you on behalf of Kaministikominahiko-skak Cree Nation people of northeastern Saskatchewan, Canada. We are seeking your support to pressure the Canadian federal government to carry out their Treaty obligations to the Kaministikominahiko-skak Cree Nation people. The Canadian federal government does not currently recognize our sovereignty as a Cree Nation. By the Canadian government’s definition we are considered non-status Indians and/or Métis and therefore the government does not recognize us as signatories to Treaty No. 5. Currently our band has over 1,100 members all of whom can be traced back to the signing of Treaty No. 5 in 1875.
Since the Kaministikominahiko-skak Cree Nation is not recognized by the Canadian government we are not eligible for funding of any kind nor are we considered a legitimate part of the Duty-to-Consult policies used by the federal or provincial governments. Because the Canadian government refuses to recognize us as a sovereign First Nation, we do not qualify for the current land claims processes that deal with outstanding Treaty business.
A current and pressing issue for the Kaministikominahiko-skak Cree Nation is the unlawful mapping of our traditional territories for resources by the federal and provincial government. The Kaministikominahiko-skak Cree peoples territories have been wrongfully delegated by the Canadian government to a neighboring First Nation called Cumberland House Cree Nation. We have tried to address this issue with the federal government, the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations and the Cumberland House Cree Nation without success.
To better understand our current state of affairs, the Kaministikominahiko-skak Cree people wish to provide you with some historical background on our Nation, our traditional territories and, why we have been in a 140 year battle with the Canadian federal government for recognition of our inherent sovereignty rights and Treaty rights.
On September 20th, 1875, John Cochrane, on behalf of our people, signed an adhesion to Treaty No. 5 in the Cumberland House region in northeastern Saskatchewan. In order to fast track the Treaty signing process and make it quicker and easier for the government, the Treaty Commissioners amalgamated several small distinct bands or nations into temporary administrative units or “super bands”. This process was unilaterally applied to many bands across Saskatchewan and Western Canada.
In our case, the Kaministikominahiko-skak Cree people were amalgamated or “lumped together” with several neighbouring bands into what was called “Cumberland Band”. There is no evidence that these bands agreed to amalgamation. Over time, the Canadian federal government though orders-in-council de-amalgamated many of these super bands across the Canadian West reinstating each band as separate, restoring their individual territories and recognizing them as distinct First Nations. However 140 years later the order-in-council has not been issued for recognition of Kaministikominahiko-skak Cree Nation people. The Canadian federal government has stopped short of finishing their Treaty business with our people. Their promise for recognition when they signed Treaty No. 5 has not been honoured and therefore constitutes a breach of trust and fiduciary responsibility.
This grievous breach of trust and fiduciary responsibilities by the federal government towards our people has been further carried out through fraud and speculation. In 1869, the Canadian government used the process of script as a means of extinguishing Indian title to land. Script was a mechanism or way to provide grants of land to settlers from Europe. The government policy of offering script was a way to reduce the number of Treaty Indians as a cost saving exercise. Every Indian band in Treaty No. 3 to 6 (western Canada) was visited by Indian Agents and script speculators. In the 1880’s many of our people faced starvation making them an easy target for scrip speculators who were further assisted by the Federal Indian Agents. These speculators sent the Indian Agents to the Indian Reserves informing members of the bands that those who had some “white blood” could withdraw from Treaty and take script.
In 1885, the Indian Agent in the Cumberland House region, northeastern Saskatchewan offered script to Kaministikominahiko-skak Cree people. At that time many of our people refuse to take script. Again in 1886, the Indian Agent returned to our territories and in order to feed their families some signed the script papers. Most of our ancestors could not read or write and therefore were not aware that they were signing documents giving away their Inherent rights to their lands and resources. Our ancestors were told they could continue to live on the government designated reserve lands. However following the signing of script by some of our people the speculators did not return to pay them their money and, adding insult to injury the Indian Agents attempted to expel them from their lands and their homes. The Indian Agents took advantage of our ancestor’s good faith and trust in the federal government’s agreement to act as their trustees. Our ancestors did not have proper understanding of the meaning of signing script and thus the Indian Agents and the Canadian federal government were able to strip our ancestors and the generations to come of their Inherent rights, lands and resources.
When the Canadian government implemented their coast to coast to coast policy to reduce the number of Treaty Indians, they also reduced the number of bands and the amount of lands that had already been set aside as Indian Reserves. Not only would the government not have to pay the annual Treaty money due to all Treaty Indians they no longer upheld their Treaty obligations to our people. In encouraging our people to take script and withdraw their applications from Treaty agreements surrendering their Inherent rights, the Canadian federal government and the Indian Agents failed in their legal obligations to protect our people. (If you need more details on the fraud please check our web page johncochrane.ca)
With the Spirit and Intent of Treaty No. 5 our Ancestors signed 140 years ago we need your help to hold the Canadian government accountable. As a respected United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, you will understand that the sovereign nationhood of our peoples does not flow out of agreements from Treaty, governments or constitutions. Our nationhood flows from our traditions and culture. The act of entering into treaties with the Crown was part of our rights as a sovereign nation to choose to enter into these agreements. We have always held the inherent right to act as a sovereign nation and to uphold the power to exercise our inherent rights as set by our Creator and our Ancestors.
Guided by our Creator, the Kaministikominahiko-skak Cree people have the authority and jurisdiction to establish spiritual, social, economical and political practices in a way that allows our beliefs and values to prevail. We have the right and the power to make treaty and enter into alliances and agreements to protect our national and international interests, to protect our lands and territories, to make law and policy based upon our values and beliefs, to determine membership and citizenship, to administer justice, and to protect our culture, our people and our way of life.
Our numerous efforts to illicit the attention and support of the Canadian federal government and the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations in acknowledging our inherent rights and sovereignty has largely gone ignored. We do have the support of the Indigenous Nations Chiefs from across Canada (Treaty 1 to 11) who on October 14, 2010 in a general Assembly passed a resolution of support for Kaministikominahiko-skak Cree Nation “to re-establish to gain all the rights, benefits, and lands guaranteed under Treaty No 5.” The Indigenous Nations Chiefs called for “a process based upon mutually beneficial relationships that form the spirit and intent of the treaties within current International Standards.”
Our Ancestors were promised by the Treaty Commissioner that Treaty was to last as long as the sun shines, the rivers flow, and the grass grows. Instead the federal government has chosen to ignore their agreement with the Kaministikominahiko-skak Cree people, to ignore their obligations to our Ancestors and to disrespect the Spirit and Intent of the Treaties.
Kaministikominahiko-skak Cree people have occupied our traditional territories in the Cumberland House region since before the signing of Treaty No. 5, we occupied it at the time our ancestors signed Treaty No. 5, and we still occupy it today. We continue to speak our Cree language, hunt, trap, and fish and carry on with our social and cultural traditions.
We the Kaministikominahiko-skak Cree people ask that the United Nations hold Canada accountable for their role as a United Nations member to respect and promote the rights of the Kaministikominahiko-skak Cree Indigenous peoples as affirmed in Treaty No. 5 agreements. In light of the Canadian government’s history of ignoring our rights for 140 years, we ask that the United Nations consider our situation a matter of international concern and a violation of our Human Rights under the following articles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to the recognition, observance and enforcement of treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements concluded with States or their successors and to have States honour and respect such treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements.
2. Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as diminishing or eliminating the rights of indigenous peoples contained in treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements.
Indigenous peoples have the right to access to and prompt decision through just and fair procedures for the resolution of conflicts and disputes with States or other parties, as well as to effective remedies for all infringements of their individual and collective rights. Such a decision shall give due consideration to the customs, traditions, rules and legal systems of the indigenous peoples concerned and international human rights.
We believe that Canada’s claim to sovereignty could also be denied to them if they cannot or will not recognize or uphold the treaty their ancestors signed with ours. As we see it, sovereignty has always been ours and cannot be claimed by foreign oppressors.
We the decedents of Kaministikominahiko-skak Cree people believe we have kept our end of the treaty agreement when we provided safe passage through our traditional territories and allowed Canada access to trillions of dollars in resources and taxes coming out of our territories. In return we have received nothing and have been ignored for 140 years.
We are grateful for this opportunity to inform the United Nations of the Kaministikominahiko-skak Cree Nation’s current human rights struggles with the Canadian government. As your time in Canada is relatively short we know you will be very busy hearing the concerns of our brothers and sisters from other Nations. If there is at all a possibility we could have a brief meeting with you we would be willing to travel to a location of your convenience while you are in Saskatchewan.
On behalf of the Kaministikominahiko-skak Cree people we thank you for your attention and look forward to your response.
Chief John Dorion
Armand Dorion, Headman/Council member
Nancy Dorion, Advisor to Chief
Kaministikominahiko-skak Cree Nation
Sub Office – 304D, 1401- 28th St. E.,
Prince Albert, Saskatchewan Canada S6V 6Z8
(306) 960-1393 or 306 929-4717