By Betty Lynxleg
The Anishinaabe Agowidiiwinan Secretariat team has been providing open house sessions at the First Nations to provide information and awareness on the work of Treaty 2 and the objectives for the work moving forward. These engagement sessions provide the members an overview of the intentions for the Government of the Treaty 2 Territory and the plan for reclaiming self-determination beyond the Indian Act.
The work of the Anishinaabe Agowidiiwinan- Treaty 2 is not new and in reality, the goals for moving forward with a Treaty-based governance model began in the early 1990s. Chiefs at that time were already in discussion about moving toward self-governance based on their common foundation of Treaty. As we know the Treaty was never fully implemented by the Crown and instead, the Indian Act was enforced without the consent or consultation of the First Nations. The Indian Act was never meant to support the Treaty and it has no connection to the Treaties that were made, none.
The Indian Act has been one of oppression and domination by the settler governments and through this legislation, the settler governments suppressed the development of the First Nations to take full control of their communities. The Indian Act has created major damages to our identity as Indigenous people and our independence as proud determined nations. It was through the Indian Act that our traditional ceremonies were outlawed, and a foreign way of education was enforced. Assimilation and acculturation were the priority for the implementation of the Indian Act. The Indian Act was passed as law in 1876 and remains in effect today. Unbelievable right? Canadians in general would never allow such a law to oversee their community development but have no opinion on the Indian Act because it does not have any impact on them and thus why it remains in effect today.
The current Canadian government has stated that they intend to “sunset” the Indian Act within the next decade and have intentions of moving the First Nations into a municipal style of government. What that actually translates into, has not been outlined. However, we as First Nations should never wait for the settler governments to decide for us. The move toward creating our own governance system should and will be developed by us and for this very reason, the leaders of Treaty 2 have worked for years to get to this point.
The Anishinaabe Agowidiiwinan Treaty 2 Secretariat has been given the mandate by the First Nations leaders in the Treaty Territory to begin the work with the First Nations to provide the members with information for establishing a Treaty-based government for the Territory. The Anishinaabe Agowidiiwinan Secretariat is not the government and have been established to the support to the First Nations to develop their own laws and protect their Rights as provided through the Creator and affirmed by the Treaties. A number of draft territorial laws have already been created, however, none of these laws can proceed without the knowledge and acceptance of the First Nations members. The open houses that are being provided at the First Nations communities give the members a good understanding as the work moves forward. These sessions also give opportunity to the members to ask questions and get involved within their own community and on a territorial level. The overall message is that, we must move together collectively if we are to reclaim what the Indian Act sought to undo.
In unity we must return and remain. We look forward to your participation, not only to protect our Rights as we know them today, but for those children yet unborn and the 7 generations to come. Get involved. Nothing about us, without us!
Last modified: November 5, 2018