CHIEF KIMBERLY JONATHAN OF THE FEDERATION OF SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN NATIONS (FSIN) FAILS TO RESPECT THE KAMINISTIKOMINAHIKO-SKAK CREE NATION AND INDIGENOUS METHODS OF RESOLUTION IN MANDATORY MEDIATION HEARING
On September 15, 2015, legal counsel for the Kaministikominahiko-skak Cree Nation, and Chief John Dorion, met with representatives of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) and its counsel in a Court mandated mediation session in the on going legal action over the final signing of the FSIN Conventions Act that was improperly removed from the agenda in 2009.
The FSIN attended with its legal counsel and Chief Operating Officer, who is a former deputy minister of Saskatchewan that had previously been involved in the matter while working for the Crown, and a part-time employee under his supervision. It is unclear if the FSIN still takes a position that it only respects the rights of Indian Act bands and not First Nations that are party to treaty with unfinished treaty business.
Neither FSIN Chief Kimberly Jonathan, nor any vice-chief on her behalf, respected the Kaministikominahiko-skak Cree Nation enough to personally attend the mediation, despite the Chief, as executive authority for the FSIN, being a named party to the action. As the parties attending did not have any authority to mediate for the FSIN, the mediator issued a Certificate of Non-Compliance with the mandatory mediation to be filed with the Court. The Kaministikominahiko-skak Cree Nation is forced to proceed with the litigation notwithstanding the lost opportunity for resolution.
There is a long-standing tradition among Indigenous leaders to work together to find reasonable solutions to legal problems without the inclusion of the Canadian legal system. In an April letter from Chief Dorion to Chief Kimberly Jonathan of the FSIN, this method of a leader-to-leader meeting was proposed. The FSIN refused to answer and refused to meet Chief Dorion according to these traditional indigenous resolution principles, and opted for the adversarial, and colonial, Court system. It now is in non-compliance with the Court’s mandatory mediation process.
“It is my belief that as leaders of First Nations we have an obligation to embrace our traditional customs in resolving differences. It is unfortunate that this matter has had to be brought before an adversarial legal system that is not necessarily in tune with our customs and traditions as Indigenous peoples and leaders,” Chief Dorion states.
“But by not seeing fit to either attend personally or send a proper person to the Court mandated mediation, it continues a pattern of disrespecting not only all of the people of the Kaministikominahiko-skak Cree Nation, but also of the Indian Government Commission and the Elders of the FSIN Senate that had approved our membership in 2009, as well as our traditional methods of dispute resolution,” Chief Dorion stated.
“I am concerned for the future of the FSIN,” Chief Dorion adds, “in its failure to respect treaty rights, treaty nations, and indigenous ways of dispute resolution, instead relying on definitions under the Indian Act and on the colonial Court system. This is not why the FSIN was founded, and goes against the core principles enshrined in its founding Conventions Act.”
The Kaministikominahiko-skak Cree Nation was vetted as a member Nation of the FSIN, but the finalizing of that process was unduly interfered with by individuals who have clear conflicts of interest in negotiations with the Canadian government, and strive to oppose its membership despite the Kaministikominahiko-skak Cree Nation meeting all of the criteria set out in the Conventions Act and protocols required for membership. The membership was unanimously approved by the Indian Governance Commission/ Executive Council in 2009. Only the signing ceremony remains.
Chief John Dorion, Chief of Kaministikominahiko-skak Cree Nation,
Signatory of Treaty 5.