'Strategic alliance' as FSIN, Sask. Human Right Commission sign agreement: Chief Bobby Cameron
Communication between groups could help make sure Indigenous people's rights, dignity respected
A new agreement signed Friday between the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) Executive and the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission (SHRC) recognizes their shared commitment to combating racism and discrimination in Saskatchewan.
FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron and SHRC Chief Commissioner David Arnot agreed this memorandum of understanding would make for easier communication, more streamlined processes and a stronger relationship between them.
For Cameron, communication between the FSIN and the SHRC is key to making sure Indigenous people's rights and dignity are being respected.
"Every day, we have First Nations people who live in the towns and cities of Saskatchewan … and we field several calls, several emails, several texts on a daily basis about what they went through or how they were treated or how they were not treated," he said.
"This strategic alliance gives us that opportunity to really address these problems in a proper way and in a respectful way."
Education on treaty rights
Cameron says this relationship with the SHRC will also allow the FSIN to play a more active role in education in cases where that is necessary.
"As an example, the Saskatchewan Environment Research Management and the officers who, during hunting and fishing season, seem to target our First Nations people a little too often," he said.
"And part of that is [attributed] to their lack of knowledge on our inherent and treaty rights. This gives us that opportunity to educate them more, to make them understand the sustenance lifestyle, that this was the way our ancestors lived and fed our people.
"So this gives us that whole communication piece, that we would be the voice or part of the voice to address these issues that our First Nations are going through."
For SHRC Chief Commissioner David Arnot, entering into this memorandum of understanding represents part of the commission's response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action, and the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls' calls to justice.
"In Saskatchewan, we stand firm in our belief that there is a clear nexus between treaty rights, Indigenous rights and human rights," said Arnot.
"And that provides a foundation for collaboration, cooperation and relationship building. I look forward to working with Chief Cameron and the FSIN and creating a stronger relationship towards a harmonious future."
And he believes this strategic alliance, and the collaborative efforts that will follow from it, will help address some of the most fundamental issues in Saskatchewan.
"Saskatchewan is a great place to live, especially on a great day like today," he said. "There is a power and a strength in [being] one human family. Like any family, we're not without problems. There's a deep-rooted tension in many of our communities.
"Racism and discrimination continue to challenge us. In the face of this challenge, we need to embrace inclusion, diversity and harmony. We need to learn from one another. We need to really understand one another."
For Cameron, today's signing sent a strong and hopeful message to the next generation that people are fighting for their rights.
"Our children are watching," he said.