NDP and Onion Lake Cree Nation calling on Government to stop Crown land lease auction

Indigenous leaders across Saskatchewan joined the NDP in calling on the Government of Saskatchewan to stop the sale of Crown land and improve its consultation process.

On January 31, the Ministry of Agriculture is set to host an online auction to lease Crown land for agriculture purposes. The highest bidder will receive parcels of the land for up to 33 years.

Onion Lake Cree Nation Chief Henry Lewis said the loss of land would be devastating.

“The loss of use due to Crown Land leases that are up to 33 years result in the unjustifiable infringement of our Treaty Rights to meaningfully hunt, trap, fish, harvest, and gather on our traditional territories.”

Leaders from Onion Lake said they needed to be adequately notified of the online auction but were first made aware of it after visiting the Government’s website.

Official Opposition Critic for First Nation and Metis Relations Betty Nippi-Albright said the Government is doing its bare minimum.

“Consultation, if it is happening at all, is minimal at best,” said Nippi-Albright. “The lack of meaningful consultation is a hallmark of this Sask. Party government.”

Terri Quinney, the duty to consult coordinator for the Onion Lake Cree Nation, said they have yet to receive any information about the upcoming auction.

“We didn’t receive no notices, no nothing,” she stated. The only reason why follow-up is occurring is that we initiated it.”

“We’re not backing down on this,” she continued. “It’s good to see other nations here, but we need more nations to come forward and say what the problems are that they’re having too.”

She added that Onion Lake feels they will have to pursue legal action against the provincial Government to stop the sale of leaders of traditional lands.

Nippi-Albright said the Government has acknowledged its shortfalls but continues to do nothing to address them.

“When you have a government that acknowledges their shortfalls but still refuses to address them, it’s clear that they’re just paying lip service to the Duty to Consult and Reconciliation,” she said. “This is why Indigenous communities are so frustrated. If you have a flat tire, you aren’t going to just point it out and keep driving; you do the work necessary to fix it!”

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