Tuesday, 17 July 2018 09:18

Feds and Blood Tribe working toward reconciliation

Written by  J.W. Schnarr
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An agreement has been signed between the federal government and the Blood Tribe that will open the door to further negotiations on the path to true reconciliation.


Blood Tribe Chief Roy Fox and Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, signed the Memorandum of Understanding on July 5 in Lethbridge. The MoU was co-developed and represents a commitment by both groups to work together to strengthen their treaty relationship.
It opens the door to further discussions to advance the goals of reconciliation and close socio-economic rights.
In his opening prayer, Elder Wilton Good Striker emphasized the interconnectivity that permeates the Blackfoot belief system and how in a similar way, the First Nations and federal government are interconnected.
“We have a complex way with our people,” he said. “We believe there is a connection between all things.”
In addressing those in attendance, Bennett acknowledged the amount of work that went into developing the MoU, and that the efforts see the two nations moving from a colonial and patriarchal one to a partnership.
That change needs to include a “profound” shift in how the government deals with First Nations people.
“This is about coming to a table to discuss things that are of a priority, in the order that is of priority to the community,” she said, noting the “old” way of doing things involved claiming rights, proving rights, and going to court to prove those rights, will change.
“There will be many things discussed at this table,” she said. “It is walking this journey toward self-determination together.”
This journey, according to Bennett, is a move away from those traditional adversarial relationships.
“Everybody is spending a whole bunch of time and money in court.We really have to have this respectful relationship that feels like a partnership — like a marriage — that this is how we are going to work together in a respectful way.”
Fox said the MoU represents a renewal of “innaihtsiiyissini,” generally meaning a sacred treaty creating a peaceful bond between two groups in conflict or at war. These were the conditions of the original Treaty 7 agreement made in 1877.
“Reconciliation has to include that appreciation of the original intent and true meaning of that treaty,” he said.
In signing, the two groups are now ready for “real and meaningful collaboration,” according to Fox.
The Blood Tribe Reserve is the largest in Canada at 547 square miles. It has a population of 12,400.
Fox said the Blood Tribe, as part of the Blackfoot Confederacy, is going through a “resurrection.”
“We continue as a nation,” he said. “We continue to engage in partnerships with others, and we will continue to preserve our language.”

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