At the Value of Alberta Conference in Calgary on Saturday, representatives from Alberta’s Indigenous communities drew parallels between the treatment of indigenous people in Canada and the inequitable treatment facing Albertans as a part of Canada.
Chief Jim Boucher Grand Chief of Treaty 8 and Chief of the Fort MacKay First Nation said his people are partners in more autonomy for Alberta from Ottawa.
“As you notice, I came in from the right,'' Boucher joked in a nod to his small c conservative politics. Morin said his people are still waiting for Ottawa to live up to their obligations, much like Albertans are now.
Boucher his people were not enamored of the oilsands when projects first began, but through partnerships with industry, Fort MacKay First Nations businesses have generated $2.5 billion in revenue over the last 5 years.
Boucher closed by calling out the anti-oil “tar sands campaign” against the oilsands, describing it as a “drive-by shooting” on the economy of his people.
Next, Grand Chief Billy Morin of Enoch Cree Nation remarked he that too “entered from the right, but just a little more to the center.”
When asked by panel moderator, Danielle Smith, Morin assured the crowd that his people are “100% against” Western separation. Morin replied that a separated Alberta would violate current treaties, but is receptive to working to help Alberta become more autonomous within Confederation.
Morin said a referendum vote in Alberta would cause “Wet'suwet'en, times 100” and gave the tangible problem that “Treaty 6 is older than Alberta and runs significantly into Saskatchewan.”