Elder Joe Whitehead Sr. speaking at the Elders Advisory Group meeting

Elder Joe Whitehead Sr. speaking at the Elders Advisory Group meeting.

Elders Meet To Discuss Issues | October 17-18, 2012

On a windy two days overlooking the beautiful Sturgeon Lake, Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation graciously hosted Elders from across Treaty No. 8 territory who met to discuss issues affecting First Nations today. The Elders spoke passionately, emotionally and with deep concern about the problems in their communities. It was a really great chance to meet with the Elders, show them the things that Treaty 8 First Nations of Alberta is working on and provide them a forum to advise us on what they wished to see.


Some of the issues discussed were the Executive Board of Chiefs of Treaty 8 First Nations of Alberta Strategic Plan and while there was some talk about things the Elders wished to see achieved, they unanimously accepted the document.

The Elders were also delivered presentations by Lewis Cardinal of the Indigenous Knowledge and Wisdom Centre, Lynn Muskwa of the Children's Agenda for Treaty 8 and Roxanne Tootosis the Non-Insured Health Benefits Navigator.


The Elders had some amazing things to say during the two day meeting:

"My great grandfather was one that signed the Treaty Rights. Today is not as good as it was, years before we had a good life."
Elder Mary Delphine Goodswimmer – Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation

"Elders have all the knowledge and experience we can use today."
Chief Richard Kappo – Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation

"[On creating a Treaty No. 8 book] It should be created to explain to all communities what the Treaty is. It can help explain to kids in schools. We need to stay together but some bands are pulling away. There's talk of self government but self government means you have your own resources. You can't do that when you are poor."
Elder Harry Laboucan – Kapawe'no First Nation

"Government is giving permission to companies to take all the oil and timber. I wonder how the younger generation will survive?"
Elder Arsene Berneille – Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation

"Right now, it's very hard for Elders to see the Treaty getting away from us. We could do better if only government would listen to us. We should have been on the NRTA table. To say, this is our land. We cannot stand the way things are now because our Elders are tired and we are losing them. Whatever the Chief wants us to do, at least for me, I will help him to make things better."
Elder David Janvier – Chipewyan Prairie First Nation

"Now we sit and get told what we can do. But we made our own rules. Right here is the proof, [pointing to pictures of First Nations living on the land] we did this ourselves. Now, people are dying. I want to sit with the Chiefs. We can't run away from the Creator. We are all the same children."
Elder Joe Whitehead Sr. – Woodland Cree Nation

"The federal and provincial governments arguing about who should pay for Indians. Industry runs this country not government. We need to address the NRTA and get some resources."
Elder Harry Lawrence – Duncan's First Nation

Youth Getting Involved

Local youth from Sturgeon Lake School came down both days to help serve the Elders lunch and contribute to the discussion. All the Elders were very happy to see them come and participate!

Youth and Teachers from Sturgeon Lake School