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Culbertson: Treaty education must be supported, updated

Everything works better with consultation
Saskatchewan Treaty Commissioner Mary Culbertson answers questions from reporters in last year's launching of the Treaty Land Sharing Network.

SASKATOON — It has been almost three weeks but Treaty Commissioner of Saskatchewan Mary Culbertson, J.D., has yet to hear back from Agriculture Minister David Marit on her inquiries about treaty obligations being breached.

Culbertson, in a letter sent to Marit on Feb. 15, is inquiring about the increased sales of Provincial Lands and the recent implementation of the Trespass to Property Act early this year that limits and breaches obligations stated in the Treaty Land Entitlement Framework Agreement.

Culbertson, in an email to SASKTODAY, said her office is still waiting for Marit’s response but for now they have been working with other agencies on issues regarding Treaty lands.

“I work with other ministries and our work has so far continued, like on the treaty boundary signs and [education] where we are always striving to keep our treaty education being supported and updated,” she said.

The Office of the Treaty Commissioner was part of the TLE negotiations between parties that also included the Federation of Indigenous Sovereign Nations, the Saskatchewan provincial government and the Federal government of Canada.

Culbertson’s letter, which also complained about the provincial government’s increased dispersal of Crown Lands, mentioned Section 4.06 of the Saskatchewan TLE Framework Agreement which states the Province of Saskatchewan “agrees to give favourable consideration from Entitlement Bands to purchase federal or provincial Crown Land.”

Culbertson, the first female commissioner who is a member of the Keeseekoose First Nation, expressed her concern about the increased rate of Crown lands being sold to private bidders as it limits First Nations communities to practice and exercise their Treaty rights.

She also said other ways can be found so Indigenous Peoples can continue accessing Treaty lands despite the implementation of the Trespass to Property Act that was implemented early this year.

“It is unrealistic to expect that accessibility to unposted land and collaborative process always work better, there is always a better way, call it consultation if you will but there is always a better way,” said Culbertson, who added the Trespass to Property Act is one consequence of ignoring the Treaty relationship.

Last year, the Treaty Land Sharing Network and 30 different civil organizations in the province also sent a letter to Marit asking to stop the sale of Crown land in Saskatchewan.

The provincial government, since 2007, had already sold close to two million acres of Crown land that was previously owned by the people of Saskatchewan.