Indigenous leaders say Saskatchewan ‘woke up a sleeping giant’ by overstepping on critical minerals – by Kevin Philipupillai (Hill Times – April 20, 2023)

Indigenous leaders are looking to the courts and to the federal government to uphold their rights over critical minerals following recent provincial assertions of control, but a former Liberal staffer says this is not a fight the federal government should be wading into.

The Biden administration’s April 12 vehicle emissions standards announcement, which put a U.S. government-sized thumb on the scale in favour of electric vehicle production, added to the existing pressure to approve and launch critical minerals mines in Canada to supply key materials for electric vehicle batteries. But the race to develop these resources has exacerbated tensions between provinces and the Indigenous nations on whose traditional territory the resources are located.

Heather Bear, vice chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN), told The Hill Times in a phone interview that the Saskatchewan government’s recent critical minerals strategy and Saskatchewan First Act “woke up a sleeping giant” by inviting “the whole world” in to develop critical minerals and other resources, without any meaningful consultation with Indigenous communities.

“You’ve seen decades and decades of both federal and provincial governments and the settlers prospering from the bounty and the wealth of this country, while First Nations are left out to live in poverty,” said Bear. “What we’re saying is enough is enough.

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