In the “spirit of humility,” Premier Jason Kenney renewed the Protocol between the Government of Alberta and the allied tribes of the Blackfoot Confederacy with the signing of an historic agreement to formalize relations for “discussion on matters of mutual concern.”
In a “powerful” ceremony, held on the 142 Anniversary of the signing of Treaty No. 7 (September 22, 1877) at Soyoohpawahko (Blackfoot Crossing), Premier Kenney and Chiefs of the Siksika, Kainai and Piikani Nations formalized the Protocol Agreement on Government-to- Government Relations.
“We gather here in a spirit of reconciliation to renew our partnership and work together on a great future for your people,” said Kenney. “But we acknowledge that the implementation (of Treaty No. 7) was badly flawed and the Blackfoot people suffered terribly. The mistakes that were made, they haunt us to this day, but the letter and spirit of the treaty can still point the way to our shared destiny if we pursue it in the spirit of reconciliation and partnership. The protocol agreement…honours the spirit of the treaty and is a solid foundation for cooperation…for education, to health, to economic development to growth and prosperity (for the Blackfoot People…and with all First Nations.)”
The intent of the Protocol – first signed with the Blackfoot in 2017 – was to advance Alberta’s Aboriginal Policy Framework (APF), which envisioned that the Government of Alberta would work with First Nations on a government-to-government basis. The APF also provides that Alberta will work with First Nations through mutually negotiated and signed agreements, protocols, memoranda and understandings. These provisions recognize the importance to First Nations leaders of establishing relations directly with elected provincial representatives.
Today’s Protocol was signed by Premier Kenney, Minister of Indigenous Relations Rick Wilson and the Blackfoot Chiefs of Alberta following the offering of the Pipe in a ceremony to seal the “sacred covenant, as our ancestors did here over 140 years ago,” said Siksika Chief Joseph Weasel Child. “There are still things that were promised here by the Crown that were not kept, so I think there are certain things where Alberta and Siksika can work together for the betterment of all our people.”
“It is important to make reference to some of the significant agreements that have been made in the past, “says Chief Roy Fox. “We have never gone against those treaties because the true meaning of Iinistii is the most sacred covenant that two nations can make, and they agree that they will help each other. So we must try and get around difficulties – such as the province’s refusal to uphold treaty and subsurface rights – and work together, to take care of those who rely on us.”
September 23, 2019
Chief Stan Grier added, “let’s not have a legacy of maintaining poverty for indigenous peoples. Poverty is the modern small pox epidemic. Subsurface rights are so important for us yet the Natural Resources Transfer Agreement prevented us from receiving a nickel from the billions taken from our lands. We have a perfect opportunity to build upon the goodwill of this protocol agreement. To once and for all involve the Siksikaitsitapi, and all tribes in Alberta to participate in the Alberta advantage.”
The Protocol Agreement provides a framework for collaboration, a formal process for Alberta and the Blackfoot Confederacy to work together and for Ministers and Chiefs to review and approve joint proposals and initiatives.