For immediate release
March 11, 2020
Treaty Five Territory, Thompson, MB – Grand Chief Garrison Settee of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) is issuing this statement to call for an MKO/Canada Northern Roundtable ahead of the First Minister’s meeting this week with national Indigenous leaders.
Grand Chief Settee states:
“As the national dialogue is scheduled to happen this week, I am in full support of a meeting of this calibre. However, my response today is out of respect for the Treaties and covenant agreements to which we are signatories on a Nation-to-Nation basis with the Crown. Through its departments and agencies, the government is responsible to promote unity and all Ministers have a duty to fulfill obligations in the national interest and in accordance with Treaties 4, 5, 6, and 10.
In the era of reconciliation, there have been many attempts to raise of the issue of what the Nation-to-Nation relationship means to the North. The voices of MKO Chiefs deserve a space in the First Nations/Crown Treaty relationship. These national meetings must take meaningful action to include First Nations in the North. Our issues matter, and our time and ability to meet with government officials poses many unique challenges. In addition to demonstrating good leadership, there are many larger societal benefits that come with the meaningful inclusion of MKO Chiefs at these high-level political meetings.
I am calling on Canada to partner with us and co-host an MKO/Canada Northern Roundtable. We need a responsive and proactive approach to meet the distinct needs of the North. There have been political lobbying efforts to put the “Northern Roundtable” on the radar of some Cabinet Ministers. MKO’s interests are of shared interest with Canada and should be a matter of national importance. We need to be involved and engaged in all phases of legislative reform.
Most recently, some of our Chiefs have issued state of emergencies for their First Nations due to the high rates of suicide, suicide ideation, failing infrastructure in our elementary schools, climate change impacts to Northern ice roads, high crime rates, lack of policing, and the list goes on. As a former Chief and now the Grand Chief, I recognize substantive changes are needed. I have lived these Northern realities all my life.
More investments in Northern Manitoba need to be made and a Northern Roundtable is one step in working to achieve these goals.
The laws of the Cree, Dene, and Oji-Cree Nations have long governed the way we interface with governments. In the larger framework of our inherent rights and Constitutionally-protected rights, MKO will continue to lobby to address our immediate, emerging, and long-term issues. We will continue forging a path with our Treaty partners.