With the fall session of the legislature underway in Saskatchewan, the chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) says he hopes to see movement on the government’s child welfare file and more inclusive discussions around cannabis sales on reserve.
Chief Bobby Cameron said he wants to see the government start launching more programs similar to what is underway at the Prince Albert Grand Council, which is currently searching for First Nations and Métis families to care for foster children.
The program is designed to keep First Nations and Métis children connected to their roots.
“That’s a good start,” Cameron said.
He said that from what he’s hearing, a similar program could be rolling out to other tribal councils in Saskatchewan soon.
The provincial Ministry of Social Services said there are no plans to expand the program this year, as it is still in its early stages.
“We would want to evaluate the initiative and then determine whether to expand to other partnerships following an examination of what worked well and where we may need to make changes,” the ministry said in a statement issued on Friday.
FSIN wants inclusion on cannabis file
Cameron said First Nations communities selling recreational cannabis, despite not having official permission to do so from the province, are expressing their treaty right to economic development.
He said expects to see more stores opening on reserves soon and that he wants to see more communities included in discussions with the province about cannabis.
“We all know that the federal government, that is our partner on reserve, not the provincial government,” Cameron said.
“We did meet with Premier Moe and we both left with an understanding that we still need to work together, regardless, that we are going to work together to ensure that First Nation inclusion is a priority.”
He said that when the cannabis licenses were first published, the FSIN and Indigenous communities didn’t receive a phone call from the government to give them a heads-up as to what was happening.
Cameron said the FSIN stands with First Nations communities who are choosing to opening recreational cannabis shops and with communities who are choosing not to.
He said the cannabis industry is a very lucrative world that creates employment and revenue generation opportunities.
“I think of Muscowpetung and Pheasant Rump [which have opened up shops], and they’re enjoying what they started, so good for them,” Cameron said.
In an emailed statement, the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority said it is committed to continuing discussions around permit allocation and that more details would be available later in the fall.