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Implications and Contentions - Government Relations

Signing an agreement with the Alberta Government on the Kainai Reserve

While history cannot be undone, the government of Canada can look back at the past and learn from its mistakes. Although the relationship between the First Nations Peoples of Treaty 7 and the federal and provincial governments has been an ambivalent one in the past, in contemporary times, both levels of government are working hard to secure a stronger relationship between themselves and Aboriginal Peoples.

Both the province of Alberta and federal government have implemented programs to assist First Nations Peoples, such as those living in the Treaty 7 areas. For instance, in the fall of 2003 the government of Canada settled a $82 million land claim with the Siksika (Blackfoot) Nation. The honorable Robert D. Nault, who was the then-Indian Affairs Minister, and Chief Adrian Stimson Sr. signed a settlement to compensate for the losses suffered by the Siksika Peoples, who in 1910 surrendered their traditional land. By signing this settlement land claim, the government hoped to better the future for upcoming Siksika generations.

The government of Alberta continues to create programs for Alberta First Nations Peoples as well. Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development (AAND) created several initiatives including the First Nations Economic Partnerships Initiative (FNEPI); this was established as a means enhance First Nation’s participation in the economy. In 2005, AAND developed the Aboriginal Centennial Initiative. Funded by the Alberta Centennial Legacies Grant Program, this enterprise provided money for projects including the Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park, the historical location of the signing of Treaty 7. These are examples of just two programs out of many more that are part of an over-arching plan to “develop policies and strategies respecting Aboriginal and northern issues.” (AAND website, http://www.aand.gov.ab.ca/AAND.asp.)

The federal government and province of Alberta are taking small steps to help secure a stronger future for the First Nations Peoples of Canada, including the Nations of Treaty 7. There is much work left to be done, but with each positive step, there is hope that some true understanding of the complex relationship started with the treaty process can be reached.

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            For more on the making of Treaty 7, visit Peel’s Prairie Provinces.
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