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Wednesday October 28 2015 3 POLITICS FIRST NATIONS By DALI CARMICHAEL Making good on her campaign promises Premier Rachel Notley and her ministers met with chiefs from the First Nations of Alberta at the Alberta Legislature over the course of the last month in an effort to improve rela- tions between the two groups. The meetings were also described as an opportunity for the First Nations to air their grievances and address priorities with the government. All the discussion the premier has had with the media regarding working with First Nations it is hopeful to see a willing- ness to work with us Treaty 8 Grand Chief Steve Courtoreille said in a release following a meeting with the Alberta Government on Oct. 20. We have serious issues with many of the laws regulations and policies in this province and it sounds like she is willing to step forward with some action. The government also met with Treaty 7 Grand Chief Charles Weaselhead on Oct. 16 and with Treaty 6 Grand Chief Tony Alexis on Oct. 7. I think the really important thing to rec- ognize is that when were engaging with First Nations we really need to be listening to whats coming back and really doing our best to understand whats being said to us Kathleen Ganley Albertas Minister of Aborig- inal Relations told the Journal. The premier started us off on a really good foot by adding her voice to the call for an inquiry into miss- ing and murdered Indigenous women and by apologizing for the role the province played in the residential schools. I think that helps to sort of reset the framework and Im hoping that we can work together moving forward in a more productive way. While each group had their own issues to address there were common themes Gan- ley said. A lot of them have to do with protection of the environment - land water and air - but also with development within a First Nation she said. A lot of the concerns were around making sure they have access to clean water and ensuring they have access to the same opportunities that all Albertans share be- cause there is a significant gap in terms of education and in terms of health outcomes and in terms of economic development and I do believe we need to work together on ad- dressing that gap. Previous to the meetings ministers started the ball rolling on improving nation-to-na- tion relations by examining how the United Nations Declaration on Indigenous Peoples could be better implemented into law a di- rective issued by Notley in July. They are also working to repeal the Con- sultation Levy Act which was set to collect fees from companies planning to develop on Crown land with the intention of distribut- ing the revenue to First Nations to enable consultation. I think the bigger conversation is around whatwedotoreplaceitGangleysaid.Theres difficulty where an industry proponent will come forward to a First Nation with binders and binders of technical information that they have to respond to and they lack the capacity to do that to put their position on the record and to get the same sort of level of technical legal information on the record. That problem still needs to be addressed and in fairness to industry some industry play- ers are doing a very very good job of work- ing with First Nations but in some cases they still lack that capacity. The three treaty groups said they came away from the meetings feeling as it was stated by Treaty 8 cautiously optimistic. The premier made a commitment to col- lectively develop action-oriented solutions that can help our communities Courtoreille said. These are changes that must be made so that everyone First Nations and Albertans live in prosperous healthy communities. We feel that the premier understands that and now we just need to see some action. The one thing I can guarantee is that the Chiefs of Treaty No. 8 are willing to put in the work necessary to collaborate with the province and make a better future for all our children. Its time and communi- ties need it. Alberta cabinet jumpstarts relations with First Nations PhotocourtesyofChrisSchwarzGovernmentofAlberta Contact Cascade Graphics at 867 872-3000 or 207 McDougal Rd Fort Smith NT You name it well print it. Alberta Premier Rachel Notley centre and Aboriginal Relations Minister Kathleen Ganley right met with chiefs from Treaty 8 earlier this month. cascade graphics