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Evidence of meeting #35 for Indigenous and Northern Affairs in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was kahnawake.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Bartholomew J. Tsannie  Chief, Hatchet Lake Denesuline First Nation
Anne Robillard  General Manager, Hatchet Lake Development Limited Partnership
Clinton Phillips  Council Chief, Mohawk Council of Kahnawake
Debbie Morris  Associate Director, Lands Unit, Mohawk Council of Kahnawake
Diane McDonald  Land-Use Coordinator, Prince Albert Grand Council
Paul Denechezhe  Councillor, Hatchet Lake Denesuline First Nation

5 p.m.

Paul Denechezhe Councillor, Hatchet Lake Denesuline First Nation

We submitted a submission to [Inaudible--Editor] I think about two years ago. They haven't responded yet. The lawyers are in the process of....

5 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Have they indicated that it's because there is a third party in there that there is an issue in moving those forward? I know with you there is, obviously.

5 p.m.

Councillor, Hatchet Lake Denesuline First Nation

5 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Chris Warkentin

Thank you, Ms. Hughes. Unfortunately, you're out of time as well.

We'll turn to Mr. Rickford for five minutes.

May 15th, 2012 / 5 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Conservative Kenora, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you to the witnesses for coming today. I have a little connection to the folks in Kahnawake. I was actually studying law at McGill and had an opportunity to serve in your legal department with some outstanding lawyers, including someone who had graduated from McGill just the year prior to me, so it's great to be here with you.

My questions are going to focus on economic development in the context of a trip that we just took in an area that's of particular interest to me as the member of Parliament for Kenora, where, within 326,000 square kilometres of geopolitical boundaries, we have 42 first nations, 25 of which are isolated. I've been spending a lot of time as the member of Parliament, and in fact, in my capacity as a lawyer just prior to that, looking at this whole idea of urban reserves. Indeed, we saw in at least one instance with respect to Muskeg Lake first nations how beneficial this was in a number of key areas.

First of all, they were not in the city of Saskatoon, so this was an opportunity for some economic development. I think, as importantly, what I heard from the chief and, in fact, what I heard from surrounding communities that were involved in the urban reserve was that this gave a chance to many off-reserve members to reconnect with their community in some meaningful way and to add to the resources that they have there. It was also a place of work that was more comfortable for them. There was a myriad of examples of how this had benefited them.

Chief Phillips, I believe you have two urban reserves, and they each serve up something different in terms of their characteristics. One is about 10 kilometres outside of the city, effectively in Montreal, and the other one, I think, is at Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, if I'm not mistaken. That land would perhaps be used for different reasons. They represent, if I'm correct on this, about 31,000, plus or minus, acres.

I'd like you to identify for us, if you could, what purposes these are serving in the context of economic development or otherwise and what the differences are between the two.

Then just finally, Diane, regrettably we didn't get up into Prince Albert on our trip to Saskatchewan, but it was an area I was more familiar with, having worked up in Pelican Narrows. I know that the PAGC has a role in the Peter Ballantyne urban reserve and I was wondering, subsequent to that, if you could spend a couple of minutes to treat the whole subject of an urban reserve in Prince Albert and how it serves northern Saskatchewan.

Thank you very much, Chief Phillips, or Debbie, perhaps.

5:05 p.m.

Council Chief, Mohawk Council of Kahnawake

Chief Clinton Phillips

They're night and day.

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Conservative Kenora, ON

They're night and day? Okay.

5:05 p.m.

Council Chief, Mohawk Council of Kahnawake

Chief Clinton Phillips

For Kahnawake—or Tioweroton, as we call it—is owned I guess by Kahnawake and also Kanesatake.

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Conservative Kenora, ON

Okay.

5:05 p.m.

Council Chief, Mohawk Council of Kahnawake

Chief Clinton Phillips

I guess we're both under the title.

In Tioweroton, there's no electricity. There's no running water. It's camping, living in the bush—Shangri-La, if you ask me. You can't beat it.

You can't beat it. It's a way of life that I guess our people once had and that we no longer have.

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Conservative Kenora, ON

Which is a benefit—I mean, these are the things that we're hearing about these reserves.

5:05 p.m.

Council Chief, Mohawk Council of Kahnawake

Chief Clinton Phillips

Yes. It's an hour's drive up north from Kahnawake, in the Laurentians, and it's just beautiful. There are waterfalls, kids swimming in the creek and walking around barefoot, and people helping and respecting each other. It's just a way of life that—

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Conservative Kenora, ON

Is it big enough to hunt on, Chief Phillips?

5:05 p.m.

Council Chief, Mohawk Council of Kahnawake

Chief Clinton Phillips

You can hunt moose and deer —it's all there. It's all there....

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Conservative Kenora, ON

Okay.

Did you want to add something, Debbie, before we go to Diane?

5:05 p.m.

Associate Director, Lands Unit, Mohawk Council of Kahnawake

Debbie Morris

No, no. I just put this—

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Conservative Kenora, ON

I can appreciate that this is a different perspective.

When I was actually working for your council, I worked on an issue that dealt with your band members having difficulty finding areas in which to hunt in northern Quebec. In fact, it was something to do with the James Bay agreement, so I can see where that adds value.

Diane, did you want to chime in on this?

5:05 p.m.

Land-Use Coordinator, Prince Albert Grand Council

Diane McDonald

I won't speak on behalf of the Prince Albert Grand Council because I don't really represent PA Grand Council—

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Conservative Kenora, ON

Okay.

5:05 p.m.

Land-Use Coordinator, Prince Albert Grand Council

Diane McDonald

—but with having my office out of the Prince Albert Grand Council, my role, my responsibility, is to actually work with the Athabasca communities, the three first nations and the seven communities.

I can speak just specifically to the department that the communities have created over the years. Certainly, it's mainly to do with lands and resource management and trying to keep up with all the development activities in the Athabasca Basin, because over even the past year we've had about 20 environmental assessments, and no capacity for dealing with all the—

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Conservative Kenora, ON

I'm sorry to interrupt you, Diane, but we have such limited time.

You've interacted with the Peter Ballantyne first nation, I'm sure, and perhaps in a number of different situations. As the voice of somebody representing northern Saskatchewan, then, if not the PAGC, do you see clear positive advantages in areas of economic development and resource and capacity building through the urban reserve that's there in Prince Albert?

5:05 p.m.

Land-Use Coordinator, Prince Albert Grand Council

Diane McDonald

I believe so. I think at one point in time.... I could speak to my community. Our former late chief was trying to negotiate a treaty land entitlement in Prince Albert, but it was contaminated land so he decided not to go with it.

But I think there are advantages for our first nations to have any lands that are made available in the cities for economic opportunities. I think that's a great idea.

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Conservative Kenora, ON

Thank you.

How much time do I have? Am I out of time?

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Chris Warkentin

I do apologize.

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Conservative Kenora, ON

Thank you.