Leaders of Métis Nation–Saskatchewan and Cumberland House Cree Nation gathered, formalizing a long-term nation-to-nation relationship, and placed signs recognizing the heartland of the Métis Nation and welcoming people to Treaty 5 territory.
The two territory markers were placed at Highway 123 on Aug. 31 – one for the Métis Nation and one for Treaty 5 territory and the ancestral lands of Cumberland House Cree Nation.
Glen McCallum, president of Métis Nation-Saskatchewan, said that while they’ve always had a strong working relationship, this enters them into an official nation-to-nation partnership that gives a unified voice when it comes to exercising rights in Treaty 5 territory.
“It’s just a matter of identifying what areas we can support one another, and the areas that I see that we can support one another is industry,” McCallum said at an Aug. 31 press conference. “We all need to be a part of industry and the things happening in our territories.”
The event was held at the E.B. Campbell Dam entrance on Highway 123, which according to Chief Rene Chaboyer of Cumberland House Cree Nation, served as a reminder of the colonization of Indigenous people.
“It holds back a lot of sediment that is required for the delta to survive, meaning it’s almost like vitamins are being held back,” Chaboyer said. “The sediment feeds all the plants, the birds and animals live off, then our people utilize the delta upstream from the dam which provides the food for us, our way of life, our medicine to grow.”
Chaboyer said one of the biggest priorities on their agenda is to revitalize and restore their cultural treaty area, and the dam continues “expediting the detrimental damages” to it.
“At the end of the day they still hold back and choke out as much water as they can to flow to us. I know down south there's a water allocation set for communities, so they’re guaranteed to get the next month of water but once the water starts flowing up north there’s no set allocation for us.”
This wasn’t the first time signs were placed around Saskatchewan’s Treaty 5 territory, which encompasses Cumberland House Cree Nation, Shoal Lake First Nation and Red Earth First Nation. A sign was erected earlier this summer, but was shot at and then stolen.
“These signs welcome visitors to the region but also remind people they are entering a traditional area,” Chaboyer said. “The signs symbolize the partnership between Cumberland House Cree Nation and Métis Nation–Saskatchewan to work together to push our Indigenous rights and our culture. This relationship just makes sense.”
McCallum said that they will maintain replacing the signs should they continue to be vandalized.
Jessica R. Durling, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Humboldt Journal