Bigstone Cree Nation chief and council has filed a Statement of Claim against the federal and provincial governments for failure to protect the treaty rights to education of the Bigstone Cree peoples.
“For decades, the federal government has given our monies owed by Treaty to the province without our consent. Then the provincial government used the monies without any accountability and violated the rights of our children for years. We tried to talk to them, wrote letters, all without results,” said Chief Gordon Auger.
Bigstone’s students, reads a press statement, were shoehorned into the "disgraced" Northlands School Division, again without consent.
“Our treaty dollars are being used to prop up the Northlands School Division. The province passed legislation trying to incorporate our treaty nation into the province, against our expressed unwillingness to be merely an afterthought in the provincial system,” said Josie Auger, a councillor for Bigstone Cree Nation.
The claim was filed after the enactment of the Northland School Division Act in July of 2017, and after decades of frustration with the failure of Bigstone’s students to succeed in a colonial and top-down system created by the province, reads the release.
The Chief and Council say the decision to go to court was not taken lightly and saw a need to protect future generations entitled to a quality education as promised by the Treaty made with the British Crown in 1899.
Currently, Bigstone’s students are hurt by the lack of quality infrastructure and programming, says Bigstone.
There are a number of declarations being sought by Bigstone – primarily the right to consent to the education of their children not as “an elected” member of a non-Indigenous school board, but rather as treaty peoples with the right of free, prior and informed consent.
“Our monies are voted in Ottawa by treasury board for treaty obligations, then Canada and the province of Alberta abuse us by using those funds without any accountability and without delivering on their promises.”
“It is very simple,” said Chief Auger. “They are violating our children’s treaty rights on a daily basis and we are calling on Canada and Alberta to honour the treaty and uphold the words of the Crown.”