Canada-China Foreign Investment “Treaty” may jeopardize and threaten First Nations Treaty rights to land
Winnipeg, MB – November 21, 2012 Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Derek Nepinak and Sapotaweyak Cree Nation Chief Nelson Genaille, who is also the President of the Treaty Land Entitlement Committee (TLEC) of Manitoba, expressed shock and concern with the impending Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPPA). On November 1, 2012 AMC Grand Chief Derek Nepinak voiced his strong opposition in regards to the ratification of the Canada-China (FIPPA) by the Harper Government.
“It is very clear that public debate and consultation has not taken place during this negotiation process, particularly with First Nations in Manitoba or across Canada. Given China’s need for raw materials, Canada’s resource sector will be a prime target which is a huge concern for First Nations that hold treaties in this country. This Canada-China FIPPA will govern all future Chinese investment in Canada, not just in the energy sector. The issues raised by this FIPPA deserve a thorough public review and debate in particular with First Nations in this country” said Grand Chief Derek Nepinak. “We have sent correspondence to the Honourable Chen Deming, Minister of Commerce, Peoples Republic of China, on September 25, 2012 voicing our concerns on this Agreement,” added Nepinak.
Emerging markets are keen to partner with Canada because of the vast natural resources to be found in Canada. Global energy needs will increase by 50 percent by 2030, largely in Asia and the Government of Canada has been consistently building up Canada’s reputation as a resource superpower. This is because Canada has the third-largest proven oil reserves in the world; Canada is among the top producers of copper, nickel, zinc and uranium. First Nations in Manitoba have long recognized that there is a huge demand for these resources, and that the Canadian government wishes to take full advantage of this market.
“On behalf of the First Nations that are signatory to the 1997 Manitoba Treaty Land Entitlement Framework Agreement, I am extremely concerned that the foreign investment interests contained within the FIPPA will take precedence over our unresolved Treaty claims and interests in land,” stated Chief Genaille. “In addition, I am shocked that there was no meaningful consultation with First Nations on the possible implications of this investment treaty to our Aboriginal and Treaty rights. Furthermore, our Member First Nations are still waiting for the Treaty lands they were first promised in the Numbered Treaties and now through the 1997 TLE Framework Agreement.”
On May 29, 1997, the Manitoba Treaty Land Entitlement (TLE) Framework Agreement was signed by the TLEC, on behalf of 21 Entitlement First Nations (EFNs), Canada and Manitoba, at the Opaskwayak Cree Nation, MB, to settle outstanding Treaty land claims. This agreement is intended to provide up to a total of 1.1 million acres of Reserve land to these 21 EFNs.
As of September 2012, 15 of these 21 EFNs have signed their individual TLE agreements under the Framework Agreement. The Total Crown land and other land amounts that these 15 EFNs are entitled to select and/or acquire are 963,097 acres.
To date, Canada has set aside a total of 462,727 acres of land as Reserve for 14 out of the 15 EFNs. 15 years after the Framework Agreement was signed, a total of 500,370 acres remains to be set aside as Reserve for these 15 EFNs.
“Given that we still possess unresolved Treaty land claims that contain valuable natural resources, I call upon the Assembly of First Nations to lobby the Prime Minister of Canada to prevent this treaty from being ratified by the federal Cabinet. Let’s finish the unresolved Treaty claims that First Nations possess first before Canada enters into and signs investment treaties with foreign governments,” concluded Chief Genaille.