HomeMarketingSask. NDP MLA calls for province to halt sale of Crown lands

Sask. NDP MLA calls for province to halt sale of Crown lands

An Opposition MLA says Saskatchewan’s provincial government should stop selling Crown land, which she says is essential for First Nations and Métis hunters, trappers and traditional land users exercising their treaty rights. 

“What good are the rights to hunt, fish and gather if there’s no Crown land left to do it on?” Betty Nippi-Albright, the NDP MLA for Saskatoon Centre and the critic for First Nations and Métis relations, said at a Thursday news conference.

The province recently posted a total of more than 8,000 acres (nearly 3,400 hectares) of Crown land to be sold through an online auction site, the NDP said.

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations has previously said that the sale of the Crown land has a negative impact on treaty rights, and threatened legal action in 2017 over the sale of lands.

According to the federation, under the Treaty Land Entitlement Agreement put into place in the early 1990s, First Nations communities and people should have first buyers’ rights to any Crown land that is up for sale. 

In an emailed statement, the Saskatchewan Party government said it gives advance notice of sale auctions to the federation in order for First Nations that are part of the Treaty Land Entitlement Agreement to participate in the auction process of lands where no claims have been made. 

However, the federation has said in the past it hasn’t been consulted before sale of Crown lands.

‘Slap in the face’

Nippi-Albright said that if the government is going to go ahead with the sale of Crown lands, it should ensure that nearby First Nations have the first right of refusal.

“Auctioning off lands to the highest bidder while treaty land entitlement obligations go unfulfilled is not reconciliation. It’s a slap in the face to First Nations who have been ignored by the provincial government for far too long,” she said. 

Wayne Semaganis, chief of the Little Pine First Nation, was also at Thursday’s news conference. He said Little Pine is one of the bands that has treaty rights obligations that are not being fulfilled.

He said Little Pine has bought a lot of its land back, but it’s difficult to get the full acreage. 

“What makes it even more difficult is when we have the Saskatchewan government that is doing everything they can to short circuit the process — to not even acknowledge it,” he said. 

He said disagreements between First Nations and non-First Nations governments can stoke racism.

That’s not needed now, Semaganis said, and he called on the provincial government to work with First Nations in an honourable way. 


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