Indigenous rights need to be spelled out more clearly, says Abegweit chief
'It's moving forward in a spirit of collaboration and cooperation instead of litigation'
Chief Brian Francis of the Abegweit First Nation would like to see the Trudeau government outline the rights of Indigenous people in law before the next federal election.
Francis, the leader of one of the two First Nation bands on P.E.I., sees that as the number one issue discussed at the Assembly of First Nations meetings last week in Gatineau, Que.
it will be done in the spirit of working together.- Chief Brian Francis
Opinions of leaders from across the country were divided, with many worried rushing the legislation could lead to problems. But Francis thinks it's key to reducing the number of disputes that end up in court.
"It's moving forward in a spirit of collaboration and cooperation instead of litigation," he said.
"When you look at First Nations rights in Canada it seems to have always amounted to going to court for different things to uphold our rights. This way it will be done in the spirit of working together with the government. That's key."
As an example, Francis brought up expectations around the duty to consult with First Nations.
Marijuana legalization was another big issue at the meetings. Many First Nations feel left out of the process, said Francis, and argued they should get a piece of the excise tax.
Francis said he has had a preliminary meeting with the P.E.I. government on the issue, but there aren't a lot of details to share yet.
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With files from Laura Chapin