I appreciate this opportunity to participate in the committee's review of Bill , the .
I'm pleased to appear before this committee today to present this important piece of legislation developed to ensure that first nations communities throughout Canada have the same health and safety protections for drinking water as all other Canadians have. I truly hope that the committee will support the passage of this legislation before we adjourn in June.
Bill should not be seen in isolation. Bill S-8 is an essential part of our government's larger comprehensive strategy to improve the quality of drinking water for residents of first nations communities, through three pillars: capacity development, which is important; continued investment in infrastructure; and the development of a clear regulatory framework.
Our government recognizes the necessity for capacity and infrastructure improvements in the provision of safe drinking water on reserves. I know that many interested parties are concerned about the issue of on-site capacities and infrastructure. That is why our government doubled the funding for the Circuit Rider Training Program, which has helped support and train hundreds of first nations water and wastewater system operators. And this program has produced significant results. For example, since July 2011, the percentage of first nations systems that have primary operators certified to manage the drinking water systems has increased from 51% to 60%, and the percentage of certified wastewater system operators has increased from 42% to almost 54%.
In addition, our government continues to make investments in water and wastewater infrastructure. Between 2006 and 2014, our government will have invested approximately $3 billion to support the delivery of drinking water and wastewater services to first nation communities. You will recall that, as part of Economic Action Plan 2012, $330.8 million is being invested over two years. As a result of those significant investments, the percentage of high-risk water systems has decreased by 8.1%, and the percentage of high-risk wastewater systems by 2.1%.
Mr. Chair, I can assure the committee that our government will continue to invest in water and wastewater infrastructure.
However, despite these significant investments and progress, one key factor remains unaddressed—the absence of an enforceable regulatory regime on reserves. Until regulations are in place, we know that achieving long-term sustainable progress will be challenging. Modern equipment and good intentions are great, but they need regulations to support them. That is why all municipalities and communities across Canada have adopted regulations. Regulations are essential because they map out clear lines of responsibility for each of the many steps required to safeguard water quality, such as source water protection, regular quality testing, and adherence to legislated—and therefore enforceable—standards for water treatment and distribution.
Our government believes that first nation communities across this country should have access to the same quality of safe, clean and reliable drinking water as all other Canadians living off reserve. This can only be achieved by having a strong regulatory framework in place.
The proposed legislation now before the committee will fill this regulatory gap. Should Bill receive royal assent, our government will continue to work with first nations and other stakeholders to develop regulations on a region-by-region basis. Developing regulations by region will enable the government and first nations to partner with municipalities and regional technical experts.
In addition, this collaborative, region-by-region approach will also leverage the value of existing regulations. Rather than creating entirely new regulations, the most efficient approach is to build upon existing provincial and territorial regulatory frameworks and adapt them as needed in order to reflect specific local conditions for each first nation community.
Let me be clear, Mr. Chair. This approach would not take jurisdiction away from first nations, nor would it give a province, territory, or municipality jurisdiction over first nation lands. By developing regulations that are comparable to those that exist off reserve, first nations will be better positioned to partner with neighbouring municipalities in the delivery of water treatment services and to cooperate on other matters, such as operator training, business ventures, and the adoption of new technologies.
Now, it will take some time to develop and implement these regulations across Canada. For this reason, the regulations will be phased in to ensure first that there is adequate time for the government and first nations to bring the drinking water and waste water infrastructure and the operating capacity to the levels required to conform with the new regulations. There's no point in implementing regulations unless that capacity and that level of infrastructure are in place; otherwise, as you know, it doesn't make sense. As we've stated many times, we're not going to roll out regulations until first nations have the capacity to abide by them, because health and safety remain our ultimate goal.
I fully recognize also that some first nations do not have the resources needed to help develop these regulations. Back in April 2012, the former minister, Mr. , sent a letter to all chiefs and band councils confirming that our government will provide the funds needed for eligible activities.
We have already, for example, provided funding to the Atlantic Policy Congress to support their work in researching and analyzing the development of regulations for first nations in the Atlantic region. It is important to recognize that the collaborative and region-by-region approach builds on the extensive ongoing engagement and consultation that have been a defining characteristic of the joint action plan on first nations drinking water.
This joint action plan was launched by the Government of Canada and the Assembly of First Nations in March 2006 to address the drinking water concerns in first nation communities. Over the last seven years, our government has been engaging with first nations, regional first nation chiefs, first nation organizations, provincial and territorial government officials, municipalities, and other stakeholders on legislation for safe drinking water and waste water every step of the way.
Our government will continue to consult with first nations and other stakeholders on the development of regulations. As a result of that collaborative process, there have been 10 amendments made to this legislation.
Some of the key differences between the previous version of this bill and the current Bill include: the addition of language to the preamble to demonstrate our commitment to work with first nations on the development of regulations; clarification that regulations would not include the power to allocate water supplies or license users of water for any purpose other than for the provision of drinking water; the removal of language that could be interpreted as powers to compel first nations into an agreement with third parties; and the inclusion of the non-derogation clause addressing the relationship between the legislation and aboriginal and treaty rights.
The non-derogation clause now found in Bill , in clause 3, was proposed by first nations during the without prejudice discussions we held with them. The clause essentially prioritizes the safety of drinking water over issues of aboriginal and treaty rights. That is an important point. In my view, this is entirely appropriate, because safe drinking water is essential to human health.
As I stated previously, the goal of this proposed legislation is the health and safety of first nations. The inclusion of a non-derogation clause in the bill is one of the many accommodation measures that resulted directly from consultations with first nations.
We continue to listen. More recently, as many of you know, concerns have been raised by various stakeholders regarding the opt-in provision, the famous clause 14 in Bill S-8, which would provide self-governing first nations and those with land claim agreements the ability to opt in to a federal regulatory regime if they so choose. Specifically, it was suggested this provision could create jurisdictional challenges and impact ongoing and future land claim agreements, among other issues.
As I stated in the House two weeks ago, after careful consideration and extensive discussions between my officials and these stakeholders, I am recommending to this committee the removal of this provision from Bill S-8. I want to assure the members of the committee that removing the opt-in provision would have no negative impact on any first nation.
Further, I believe removing this clause serves as yet another good example of positive results produced by ongoing collaborative discussions with first nations and other stakeholders. I hope that members of this committee will see the value of this change and will support this amendment.
To conclude, let me reiterate, Mr. Chair, that the proposed legislation now before this committee is the product of a lengthy and comprehensive process of study, engagement, and meaningful consultations with first nations and other stakeholders. This bill is an essential part of a larger collaborative strategy—which I mentioned at the beginning—to improve the quality of drinking water available to residents of first nation communities.
This strategy has produced remarkable results, and yet, until regulations are in place, the progress made remains at risk. Safe drinking water requires a regime that defines responsibilities and establishes clear lines of accountability. In response to those who feel we should wait until all investments in infrastructure have been completed, I say that first nations should not have to wait any longer to have access to safe, clean drinking water. I want to respectfully point out that this depends on the comprehensive strategy I talked about earlier.
It has taken seven years for us to get to this point—seven years of discussions, consultations, engagements and investments have produced this legislation before you today. We believe that now is the time to move forward. The health and safety of first nations is an urgent priority. Through continued investments, this bill will bring the quality of the drinking water and the treatment of wastewater on reserves to the same standards enjoyed by all other Canadians.
Safe drinking water should be available to all Canadians, and Bill S-8 will help achieve that goal.
Mr. Chair, the solution is now in your committee's capable hands. Thank you. I will now answer any questions the members may have.
First, I have a letter from my chief, which reads:
Thank you for allowing representatives from my nation, Tsuu T'ina, to make a presentation to you on Bill S-8.
On behalf of the Tsuu T'ina people, I hereby serve notice to you that the Tsuu T'ina First Nation has jurisdiction over water on our lands. Our jurisdiction is protected by Treaty 7 and the Constitution Act of 1982.
Canada, the successor state of Great Britain, has responsibility to adhere to the Constitution Act of 1982.
That was from Chief Roy Whitney of the Tsuu T'ina Nation.
First of all, we would like to introduce ourselves to you. We are the Tsuu T'ina Nation. We are signatories to Treaty 7.
Our reserve is rectangular in shape, measuring 18 miles in length running from east to west, and 6 miles in width running from north to south. It consists of 69,000 acres, more or less. Our population numbers total 1,863 as of the latest figures. Our reserve borders on the southwest city limits of the city of Calgary.
Two natural water systems run through our reserve, the Elbow River and Fish Creek. Both are heavily depended upon by the city of Calgary. A major river, the Bow River,which runs through the city of Calgary, is a part of our traditional territory and has been used by our nation since time immemorial.
All of these sources of water have been largely polluted by industrial, agricultural, and residential development. Hence, that is why we are very concerned about water pollution and safe drinking water.
Water, pursuant to the Van der Peet case, is integral to our culture. In addition to physical needs, water is an integral part of our ceremonies, our songs, and our stories, which in turn define who we are as a nation.
As a signatory to Treaty 7, our nation would like to remind the crown about Treaty 7. Treaty 7 is a peace treaty between two nations where our Chief Bull Head agreed to set aside part of our traditional territory as a reserve for our exclusive use so that we could continue our way of life and to share the rest of the traditional territory with the Euro newcomers in exchange for a number of guarantees, including: fiduciary protection from Euro newcomers' encroachment; lifelong education and health services; continued rights to hunt, fish, and trap; and money for economic development.
This proposed safe drinking water bill is another example of a continuing attempt by the crown to get out from its responsibilities under Treaty 7, but we would like to remind the crown that it owes fiduciary and fiscal responsibilities to our peoples. These responsibilities arise out of a number of sources included in the Royal Proclamation of 1763, Treaty 7 of 1877, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the Supreme Court of Canada's cases, such as the Guerin case.
The Supreme Court of Canada has also reminded the Government of Canada that it must act with honour when dealing with first nations.
Our nation's view on Bill is that the crown is not acting very honourably and simply wants to relieve itself of its fiduciary duties.
The summary of Bill states:
This enactment addresses health and safety issues on reserve lands and certain other lands by providing for regulations to govern drinking water and waste water treatment in First Nations communities. Regulations could be made on a province-by-province basis to mirror existing provincial regulatory regimes, with adaptations to address the circumstances of First Nations living on those lands.
This summary reflects what is in the proposed act. The proposed act is strictly about a regulatory regime and does not deal with health standards. It follows the general practice of the federal government adopting provincial legislative and regulatory regimes and applying them to first nations lands.
All indications are that the proposed act will simply adopt provincial laws and regulations regarding safe drinking water and waste water systems, but the reality is that a large amount of the water pollution on reserve lands is caused by weak provincial water standards and/or by lack of enforcement of the law and regulations of the province. Consequently, the federal government should take a lead role in assisting first nations to develop standards for safe drinking water on reserve as opposed to deferring to provincial legislation and regulatory regimes.
Bill makes references to sources of drinking water. In Canada there is no first nation that has control of sources of drinking water, other than wells actually located on reserves.
Further, there is reference to requiring permits for a body entity that may affect drinking water sources by its activity. A body entity could include an oil company. For instance, fracking is an activity that does affect underground water systems, but the proposed act does not mention anything about regulating that type of activity, other than requiring a permit.
The proposed act is very cognizant of provincial jurisdiction over water and other natural resources. It becomes very clear the federal government does not want to take a leadership role with regard to safe drinking water, but simply wants to off-load its health responsibilities for first nations peoples to the provinces, which have no constitutional responsibility to Indians.
The proposed act makes it very clear that water allocations will not be affected by the proposed act. Water allocations are regulated through water licences issued by the provinces. The issue here is what if there is a conflict between the drinking water needs of a first nation and water allocation for irrigation and industrial purposes. The proposed act makes it very clear that water allocations by the provinces will be paramount over drinking water needs of first nations.
Under the proposed act, the Governor in Council will have authority over a broad spectrum of regulatory powers. There is no mention of chief and council in Bill . There is mention of conferring powers of a person or a body to carry out the regulations. Since there is no mention of chief and council, the body will most likely be a non-Indian, a corporation, or a provincial administrative agency. In other words, an outsider will most likely be in charge of safe drinking water for our reserve community. If a non-Indian or a corporation is in charge of safe drinking water on the reserve, it is more than likely the result will be about profit and not health.
A large part of the proposed act revolves around protecting government officials, both federal and provincial, from lawsuits. The government can make all the laws and regulations, but does not want to take any responsibility for mistakes, omissions, or negligence. Chiefs and councils will be held responsible for these matters under the act.
Water is not specifically mentioned in the Canadian constitution. The federal and provincial governments claim authority over water through implications such as sea coast and inland fisheries, navigation and shipping, municipal institutions, and property and civil rights. But first nations have a much superior right to water than provincial and federal governments have, whether you look at it from an aboriginal and treaty right—section 35 of the Constitution Act—or from a prior appropriation perspective.
Based on this right to water, Bill should really be about treaty implementation. It should be first nations enacting laws and regulations regarding safe drinking water, not the federal and provincial governments.
In conclusion, we are here to inform you that Tsuu T’ina Nation rejects Bill in its entirety, as it is not according to the spirit and intent of Treaty 7. Treaty 7 and our inherent aboriginal rights are protected by your Constitution Act of 1982.
Please be informed that Tsuu T’ina Nation is currently developing an act that addresses the water needs of our citizens on Tsuu T’ina lands.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Good morning to the honourable members. Thank you for inviting our organization to make a presentation on this piece of legislation.
I'll give you a bit of background. I want to thank Regena for opening the comments from an Alberta perspective. I'm with the First Nations Alberta Technical Services Advisory Group, TSAG for short. It's a non-profit service entity governed by all first nations in Alberta through a chief steering committee appointed by the Assembly of Treaty Chiefs. TSAG provides technical services and training to first nations for housing, public works, community facilities, and environmental management, for more than 12 specialized programs.
Our organization has a particular focus and expertise in relation to water management at the local level in first nations communities. TSAG operates a circuit rider program which trains first nation water and waste water operators to deliver safe drinking water. In partnership with Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada—the regional office and the folks here in Ottawa—TSAG has also worked to develop a community-driven source water protection plan with one Alberta first nation. It is the first of its kind. This guide will serve as a national template for source water protection planning on reserve to further build community capacity for water resources management. TSAG provides technical training and network opportunities for first nations staff working in lands and environmental departments.
Over the last year and a half, we have engaged in a pilot project with representatives of AANDC. We've installed remote water monitoring devices in every first nation water treatment plant in Alberta. They're quite unique in their design and implementation. They don't use reagents or chemicals to do the testing and the monitoring. They give us real-time information on the quality of drinking water as it leaves the water treatment plant, using a sophisticated model and algorithm—don't ask me to explain it, please—so that no reagents and no chemicals have to be used. It's virtually maintenance-free.
That being said, I want to lay the groundwork for a bit of the expertise that we feel we have. It might not be a significant amount, but over the years we've been involved in the development of the impact analysis that was rolled out when we participated in the Neegan Burnside report. We felt the impact analysis was inadequate in that it didn't allow for enough time to have a thorough consultation and discussion about the impacts and ramifications of the different methods and methodologies for coming up with this piece of legislation.
AANDC's terms of reference for the impact analysis asked first nations to consider the impact on first nations of incorporation by reference of existing provincial regulations and to examine the elements of provincial law that may be addressed in the legislation. AANDC identified these elements in its discussion paper prepared in early 2009. They also required us to enlist the assistance of local experts in the analysis and to examine the impact of the regulatory regimes currently in place in the province.
AANDC stated that the purpose of the impact analysis was to seek input from first nations and first nations regional organizations on a proposed federal legislative framework for drinking water and waste water, based on the option of incorporating by reference existing provincial regulations. First nations only had two months to complete the work, which included a review and consideration of the five provincial statutes and 19 regulations, codes, and guidelines—about 149 pages of regulatory requirements—that collectively make up the provincial regulatory regime for drinking water and waste water.
We had to solicit input from 47 first nation communities in Alberta and their water system operators on the potential implications of subjecting first nations to the provincial regulatory regime. We also had to consider the potential impacts of incorporation by reference of the provincial regulatory regime and synthesize all of the above information into an impact analysis report. AANDC provided the AOTC with $22,000 in funding, or $468 per Alberta first nation, for the impact analysis.
In light of TSAG's extensive work on water matters with first nation communities in Alberta, the AOTC approached TSAG in early 2009 to assist with the creation of an impact analysis. Despite the grossly inadequate budget and the nearly impossible timeframe provided by AANDC, we reluctantly agreed to complete the impact analysis for the AOTC.
On April 6, 2009, TSAG submitted an analysis of the potential impacts of proposed new federal drinking water legislation to INAC on behalf of the AOTC. You have a copy, and it's on our website as well. AANDC stated in its terms of reference that once the impact analysis was complete, each of the 12 regional impact analysis reports would be submitted to the coordinating consultant who would roll up the results into a final summary report. This summary report would be provided to INAC once it has been reviewed by all the regional first nation organizations participating in the impact analysis.
We were provided with the draft summary report prepared by the Institute on Governance late in the afternoon of April 13, 2009. We were expected, along with other regional first nation organizations, to review the draft summary report prior to a meeting in Ottawa on April 15, 2009, at which time the report would be finalized. Of course, April 14 was spent travelling to Ottawa from Alberta and in practical terms, TSAG had little time to review the draft summary report.
From what we understand, these circumstances were not unique to Alberta first nations. Each of the first nation regional organizations received a draft summary report late in the day on April 13, 2009. Consequently, TSAG and first nations regional organizations from Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Nova Scotia, the Atlantic region, Northwest Territories and Yukon made a request to AANDC to have 30 days for first nation regional organizations to review the draft IOG summary report. However, the request was denied. As a result, the same first nation regional organizations collectively insisted that the following disclaimer be added to the executive summary of the IOG summary report, and I quote, “The contents of this paper are the responsibility of the authors of the IOG report and do not necessarily reflect the positions or perspectives of the regional first nation impact analysis representatives or any particular first nation or regional organization.”
To date AANDC has not responded to any of the concerns and issues identified by TSAG and the AOTC in the impact analysis. The complete lack of response from AANDC to the impact analysis has left Alberta first nations deeply concerned and frustrated. Why did AANDC ask for and fund the impact analysis if it never intended to review it, respond to the concerns it raises, or to meet with Alberta first nations to discuss it?
It's clearly recommended that AANDC undertake a comprehensive consultation process with first nations with a view to collaboratively developing such legislation. Although there's legal obligation to consult, Alberta's first nations are most concerned about the practical implications of AANDC's failure to review, consider or respond to the AOTC's impact analysis. In simple terms, it means that Bill has been developed without any meaningful impact from first nations leaders, communities, organizations, or water system operators in Alberta.
I will now go to a brief summary of general concerns identified by the impact analysis, which represents the collective efforts of first nations leaders, communities, water system operators, staff, and concerned first nation members from across Alberta who attended workshops with TSAG, answered questions, phoned in their concerns and provided written input. It is a lengthy document, which is not surprising in light of what it was intended to accomplish. Unfortunately, TSAG does not have a budget to provide a French translation of the 220-page impact analysis for this committee, and AANDC has confirmed that it has not translated the document. In order to make it available to the members of this committee, TSAG has posted the document to our website, www.tsag.net.
Although we encourage honourable members to review the impact analysis, we have provided the following summary of concerns and issues identified in the impact analysis by first nations leadership and water system operators regarding the potential implications of applying the provincial regulatory regime to first nation communities.
It is important to stress that this summary does not include the portion of the impact analysis which addressed the potential impacts of the proposed legislation on first nations treaty rights and jurisdiction over water on reserve lands. Those issues were addressed in the AOTC submission, and will be by first nations from other regions, I'm sure.
Number one, our recommendation was resources, then regulation.
In the course of developing the impact analysis with TSAG, first nations leaders and water technicians stressed a serious overriding and persistent issue. Canada has consistently failed to provide first nations with adequate funding for the design, construction, operation and maintenance of first nations water plants and other drinking water infrastructure. AANDC has invested over $2 billion in recent years to tackle trouble spots in first nations communities, but more funding is required to bring all first nations water systems up to acceptable standards.
The cost of improving first nations water systems is being studied by the national engineering assessment, and has yet to be completed. If the core issue of adequate resources is not successfully addressed prior to the implementation of new drinking water legislation, many first nations will be unable to meet new regulatory standards. Moreover, the regulations could worsen the situation by increasing costs associated with monitoring, reporting, compliance, and the potential financial penalties related to enforcement.
AANDC has stated that the regulations will be phased in and applied to first nations communities when they are ready, yet no such commitment or requirement is contained within Bill . Nobody wants new drinking water legislation to make the situation worse than it already is.
The expert panel stressed the problem of chronic inadequate funding is the most significant issue preventing the delivery of safe drinking water to first nations. As an example, a number of our communities have expended their annual budgets for their water treatment and water and waste water facilities in their first quarter. In Alberta with the high cost of labour, chemicals and utilities, come September or October often there's no money for chemicals, and they have to look at other ways and means.
Regulation alone will not be effective in ensuring safe drinking water unless the other requirements—a multi-barrier approach, cautious decision-making, and effective management systems—are met. These other requirements depend on adequate investment in both human resources and physical assets. Regulation without the investment needed to build capacity may even put drinking water safety at risk by diverting badly needed resources into regulatory frameworks and compliance costs.
Aboriginal Affairs' current policy is to fund 80% of the estimated rather than the actual operation and maintenance costs of first nations drinking water systems. In 2005 the Commissioner of the Environment found that the cost estimates underlying this percentage had not been revisited nor had they been updated for several years.
To our knowledge, AANDC's funding formula has not changed since 2005. Further, when negotiating funding agreements with first nations, Aboriginal Affairs ignores whether first nations have other resources to meet this requirement to fund the remaining 20%.
Many first nations water technicians told TSAG that the practical result for their communities is that they often have to operate and maintain their community drinking water systems on budgets that fall short of their actual costs. Some first nations communities have little choice but to reallocate money from other underfunded areas, such as health, education, or housing, to operate their water systems.
Nothing in the bill, INAC's discussion paper, or its plans for implementing the bill address this critical and fundamental issue. Regulation without the required resources is simply a recipe for perpetuating Canada's long record of failure with respect to first nations drinking water.
The chair of the expert panel, Dr. Harry Swain, said most clearly that if we want “to get good water on Indian reserves, then we should worry about the basic resources and then about a regulatory regime.”
Alberta first nations uniformly communicated the same message to TSAG during our work on the impact analysis. They want a clear commitment from Canada to address the problem of inadequate funding before developing new legislation or regulations.
Number two is first nations water and the Government of Alberta. The Government of Alberta's operating position is that first nations have no water rights or jurisdiction on reserve lands. It asserts that the province owns and controls all water resources within first nations lands.
AANDC has not considered the implications of Alberta's position and the often difficult resulting relationships that exist between many first nations and Alberta regarding water, even though the expert panel on safe drinking water for first nations identified this concern as a barrier to the effective use of provincial regulations. This barrier could become even more significant if provincial officials were provided with a role in regulation of first nations water systems.
Water technicians and their chiefs and council are deeply concerned that the Alberta officials may use any authority they derive as a regulator from the federal government to also advance Alberta's assertion of control and ownership of first nation on-reserve water resources. There's particular concern about the potentially staggering cost implications of being made subject to Alberta's new water markets under this bill, where even small allocations of water are being sold for millions of dollars.
Currently AANDC has made no commitment to purchasing water allocations for first nations in Alberta's new water markets.
We suggested that what we should be addressing is the implementation of treaty. Now when you do the implementation of treaty—the indicated last year and again in January that he would have serious discussions on treaty. That has yet to happen as well. We get all these empty promises. We want a nation-to-nation discussion with respect to water, our lands, our jurisdiction over all matters. We need to set up a proper relationship. When the Prime Minister does fulfill his commitment, then our chiefs will be ready to address all these issues and then they will set out a process to address the water, the fiduciary obligations, and the fiscal responsibilities.
The United Nations declaration, which was passed by the United Nations General Assembly, and which Canada and the later endorsed, talks about our rights as peoples, as well as Canada, the state, providing the mechanisms and financial resources to assist us to do this work. Right now, as you can see, most of our reserves don't have the necessary capacity because we don't have the money. Each year the Department of Indian Affairs is allocating less and less to each tribe, so where does that put us?
Now they are enacting this legislation and they're not responsible for anything, any negligence or anything else. If anybody gets sued, they're indemnified and guess who's responsible? We are.
Why is the federal government feeding us to the dogs? Why is it setting us up when we have very limited...and when Canada has not been fulfilling its responsibility towards our people? You must remember we were the first peoples here on this territory. If it weren't for Treaty Nos. 6, 7, and 8, there would be no such thing as the Province of Alberta. We've got to put that into perspective and honour the obligations under treaty and recognize our inherent and aboriginal rights. Thank you.
It's very frustrating. Canadians think they can legislate over us, dictate to us as to what we should do, not giving any care about the supreme laws of this land, interpreting them according to their own thinking. Let's sit down and discuss this and clarify treaty, set out our relationship according to treaty, and work things out so everybody can be safe and healthy, and enjoy the relationship we have with the non-indigenous peoples on our territories. We agreed to live side by side without interference, and yet Canada has interfered in our lives since prior to the treaties—the Indian Act first and now all these other pieces of legislation. It's frustrating.
Mr. Chairman, just for your information, there's one copy with signatures at the bottom. There are several more from our nations that will be following because when we do things to represent the nations, we consult with them and they support us. We just missed many sheets of this. They'll be coming.