Monday, March 12, 2012

Creation of New Provincial Parks in Saskatchewan

FSIN Executive Communique
March 9, 2012

One of the most important issues to note in the proposed park development will be the identification of First Nations Sacred Sites. There must be the proper steps taken to ensure that all Sacred Sites are identified and protected from desecration by people who frequent the park.

The Minister of Tourism, Parks, Culture and Sport sent a letter on April 25, 2011 notifying the FSIN of the ministry’s intent to develop two new provincial parks in Saskatchewan. One of the proposed parks includes Emma Lake and Anglin Lake Recreation Sites and some adjacent Crown land (approx. 12,000 hectares), north of Prince Albert. The second proposed park is located south of Hudson Bay which includes McBride Lake, Pepaw Lake, Par Hill Lake, Saginas Lake and Woody River Recreation Sites and some adjacent Crown land (approx. 30,000 hectares). A letter was sent on February 2, 2012 to VC Cameron from the Minister of Tourism, Parks, Culture and Sport informing him that the ministry made initial contact and dialogue occurred with several First Nations and Metis groups and that the ministry is working to further consult Aboriginal communities beyond initial dialogue.

The duty to consult and accommodate provides the legal basis for the relationship between First Nations and Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan is required to consult and accommodate First Nations whenever it contemplates an action that may negatively impact Aboriginal or Treaty rights. Since the proposed new parks are within the traditional/ancestral territory of First Nations, Saskatchewan’s duty to consult has been triggered and consultation should have begun at the park selection stage. We need to ensure that proper and legal consultation and accommodation occurs

The following are some of the potential impacts and infringements on First Nations Treaty and Inherent rights:

1. Limited or restricted access to certain areas for Treaty and traditional hunting, fishing, trapping and gathering.

2. Increased outdoor recreation opportunities impact crown lands used for exercise of Treaty and traditional hunting, fishing, trapping and gathering.

3. Competing resources in hunting, fishing, trapping and gathering.

4. Increase in traffic, ie. RV’s, snowmobiles, hiking, etc.

5. Impact on wildlife and fisheries.

6. Sacred Site desecration.

First Nations’ concerns about the loss of access to and protection of Treaty and traditional/ancestral territories are increasingly eminent. This initiative from the province will not benefit First Nations, but negatively affect their ability to exercise Treaty and Inherent rights to hunt, fish, trap and gather. The ministry will be advised to undertake the following:

1. First Nations are to be properly consulted and accommodated.

2. Consider First Nation Park or joint management of new parks.

  •  Meaning formal agreement with impacted First Nations
  •  Research other jurisdictions with similar agreements

3. Funding and capacity for First Nations before consultation begins.

4. Organize meetings with the First Nations that will be impacted by proposed new parks.

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