APTN National News
GATINEAU, Que.–Assembly of First Nations chiefs torpedoed a committee Thursday created last January during a meeting between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and AFN National Chiefs Shawn Atleo.
With only two chiefs voting in opposition and 12 abstentions, the chiefs voted to kill the senior oversight committee on treaties. The chiefs decided to organize their positions on a treaty region by treaty region basis and return to the table with a demand that talks on the issue include the prime minister and the governor general.
The current committee included First Nations representatives and senior officials from Aboriginal Affairs, the Privy Council Office and the Prime Minister’s Office.
“I say burn that table, it is not needed,” said Colby Tootoosis, who was sent as a proxy for Poundmaker Cree Nation from Treaty 6 in Saskatchewan.
The motion was moved by Serpent River First Nation Chief Isadore Day, which is part of the Robinson-Huron Treaty, and Sakimay First Nation Chief Lynn Acoose, from Treaty 4 territory in Saskatchewan.
“What we are fighting for is to bring back those days when the leadership were not governing under the yoke of somebody’s assumed sovereignty,” said Acoose.
Saskatchewan regional Chief Perry Bellegarde, who holds the treaty portfolio for the AFN, supported the motion.
Bellegarde said discussions around treaty needed to be pushed up to a higher political level with Canada.
“The process has to be looked at like a first minister conference. It has to be pushed up a notch,” said Bellegarde. “There is a need for unity. One nation, once voice, one drum, holding each other and respecting the diversity that is there.”
The AFN said about 1,000 delegates attended the three days of meetings which ended Thursday. The AFN did not provide the number of chiefs or proxies who attended the meeting. Unofficially, an estimated 200 chiefs and proxies attended the gathering.