The Bilateral Process:
Summary of the Bilateral Discussions Respecting Treaty No. 6 of 1876:
The Bilateral Discussions Respecting Treaty No. 6 began in 1995 between the Nations of Treaty No. 6 and the Government of Canada, who signed the Declaration of Intent. This was confirmation that Treaty No. 6 and the Crown (Federal Government) were willing to develop a process that would enable them to discuss Treaty Issues. As the rules of the process were discussed, the signing of the Protocol followed on May 11, 1997. The understanding, as mentioned in the Protocol, was to ensure that this was a political process established between Treaty No. 6 and the Crown (Federal Government), with the intent to gain a better understanding of what Treaty No. 6 meant to the Nations of Treaty No. 6 and the Government of Canada as the successor state of the Crown of Great Britain. This process is not a legal one, nor is it a means to re-negotiate the Treaty.
As the process started, team-players were identified by Confederacy of Treaty No. 6 Nations and the Crown (Federal Government of Canada) to begin Main Table meetings. This included Chiefs, Elders, and Technical Staff. As the two teams came together, making presentations by way of position papers and oral presentations made by the Elders of Treaty No. 6, there was much learning done by both teams. Main Table meetings were planned and agenda items identified. Twenty-one items were tabled as points of Treaty issues that needed to be discussed, although this is not an exhaustive list.
As more time passed, it was identified by way of joint reports that more discussions needed to take place between the two teams. As well, through the duration of discussions, it was not only a process of learning that had taken place, but also the development of mutual respect for each, for both Treaty No. 6 and the Crown (Federal Government).
Indeed, if anything was to come from these discussions, this accomplishment was worth the efforts by both teams.
As Phase One was completed, there was a joint report submitted which gave a clear report on the history of Phase One discussions, indicative of the accomplishments and understandings reached. However, it also indicates the outstanding issues that were never fully discussed, and to date, still remain outstanding. As Phase One had taken a few years to complete, there is a continued commitment of the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs and a commitment of funding that is necessary to implement the tasks necessary for preparation and execution of Phase Two.
As much effort, time, and resources were expended, it is felt that the Joint Report, as submitted by both teams, must still be considered by way of utilizing the identified outstanding issues and recommendations for Phase Two of the Bilateral Discussions. This base will assist in the direction that Phase Two can be driven to better the Treaty Relationship between the Treaty No. 6 Nations and the Crown (Federal Government).
As unilateral changes were made to the makeup of the ongoing Bilateral Treaty Table by the Crown (Federal Government of Canada) it has been incumbent on the existing members of the Bilateral Treaty Team to continue the work by developing a Treaty No. 6 World View paper, film and power-point presentation for the purposes of Public Education and documenting the knowledge of the Elders’ and knowledge keepers as it pertains to the spirit and intent of Treaty No. 6 of 1876.
As governments have changed and priorities shift the Bilateral Treaty Table is in the process of exploring the possibilities of putting the knowledge of the Elders and knowledge-keepers into the form of a book and developing a Treaty Toolkit for the Classroom.
Continue the work with the existing Treaty Commissions (Office of the Treaty Commissioner, OTC in Saskatchewan and the Manitoba Treaty Relations Commission, MTRC in Manitoba) and other Treaty Tables to explore the possibility of a Treaty Commission for Alberta.
Work with other Treaty processes, entities such as Treaties 1 -11 in order to assist in the determining of the Treaty agenda at the national and international level in accordance with the UN Treaty Study and other international processes that have come to pass since the signing of the original protocol. This includes the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the OAS Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous and all other international developments affecting Treaty No. 6.
As per the Protocol agreement signed by the Chiefs of the Confederacy of Treaty No. 6 Nations and signed by the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada on behalf of her Majesty the Queen in the Right of Canada, there will be an individual retained under the terms of reference of the Bilateral Process.
Terms of Reference of the Co-Chair:
To speak on behalf of Treaty No. 6 Nations with terms of reference to discuss and accomplish the purpose of the Protocol
To act as co-chairperson of the discussion at the main table
Identify in writing the representatives, including the roles of the respective representatives
Responsible for directing the participation of the team
Present and coordinate the presentation of the views of the principals in oral or written form on topics and issues identified in the agenda, including the interview of Elders’ and knowledge keepers to achieve the ends of the agenda items
Will determine the main table agenda and may review agenda items *with the advisor as required
Will jointly determine when subcommittees are needed to review issues and views; and will determine terms of references, time frames and requirements for reporting back to the main table
Will direct the preparation of and will table the Joint Reports
Will assist in determining terms of reference of the Protocol Secretariat
To jointly, with the federal co-chair, modify procedures to accomplish the purpose of the Protocol including:
The sharing of information during discussions
The frequency of meetings, their location, duration of main table discussions
Direct the protocol secretariat to make necessary arrangements
*This item still under review
Department Contact Information:
Bilateral Treaty Coordinator: Ron Lameman