Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Elders forethought, Atleo's afterthought.

“We must be partners, not an afterthought.”

So read the headline published in the GLOBE AND MAIL, dated August 22, 2012 and written by Shawn Atleo.

I see Shawn Atleo, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), is again trying to assert some leadership. After all, even with signed Treaties across the country, he is a leader of arguably the most uncertain of the three defined aboriginal groups and arguably too, the most contentious when it comes to the issue of resource development. After all too, we don’t hear much from Metis and Inuit groups regarding resource development.

I wonder why?

Atleo, to his credit, says, “The federal government must work with First Nations to move away from the Indian Act, to honour and give life to inherent rights, title, and treaties.”

Is the Indian Act to blame for the current state of affairs with First Nations and resource development or are First Nations ancestors to blame?

We, Inuvialuit, of the Western Arctic were a part of the northern group who were to sign and be a signatory to Treaty 11. Back in the day, our elders felt it not advantageous for us as a people and therefore, rejected the terms of the conditions of Treaty 11. Good for them.

Fast forward to Atleo’s comments today, “We must be full participants in new sustainable and responsible economic opportunity. This is a path forward to prosperity, now and into the future.”


One of our goals of the 1984 Inuvialuit Final Agreement of the Western Arctic is, “to enable Inuvialuit to be equal and meaningful participants in the northern and national economy and society…”

Thanks to our Elders patient foresight in rejecting signing Treaty 11, the government was a binding signatory to our comprehensive land claim agreement. Now, resource development companies and the government have no issue engaging Inuvialuit early and engaging Inuvialuit often in any proposed resource development. And, we don’t make the news on a daily basis as Inuvialuit are meaningful participants in the northern and national economy. And, never an afterthought.

Perhaps, Atleo should be looking back to his ancestors to address the path to prosperity, now and into the future.