First Nations lay claim to all critical minerals and rare earth elements in Saskatchewan – by Will McLernon (CBC News Saskatchewan – March 30, 2023)

Province’s new critical mineral strategy infringes on Inherent and Treaty rights: FSIN

First Nations are laying claim to all critical minerals and rare earth elements in Saskatchewan in light of the province announcing its new critical mineral strategy on Monday.

Saskatchewan has 23 of 31 critical minerals on the Canadian Critical Minerals List. The government’s strategy aims to increase Saskatchewan’s share of Canadian mineral exploration spending to 15 per cent and double critical minerals being produced by 2030. It also intends to grow Saskatchewan’s production of potash, uranium and helium in addition to establishing the province as a rare earth mineral hub.

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN), which represents 73 First Nations in Saskatchewan, says the critical mineral strategy infringes on inherent and treaty rights. “At treaty, we agreed for the settlers — in order to have agriculture — to share a plough deep,” Heather Bear, the federation’s vice-chief Heather Bear said. “The minerals were never on the table.”

Disputes over depth of plough provision

Dwight Newman, a Canadian Research Chair in Indigenous Rights in Constitutional and International Law, said there is an unresolved dispute between the provincial government and First Nations over whether land below the depth of a plough was shared through Treaties 4 and 6.

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