Sask farmers, Indigenous land users launch land sharing network

Saskatchewan Indigenous land users have formed the Treaty Land Sharing Network (TLSN) together with an alliance of farmers and ranchers who welcome Indigenous residents to “practice their way of life on the land that they farm.”

In a news release, the group said the new network is a necessary move toward land-based reconciliation.

“The Treaty Land Sharing Network is a welcome and much-needed alliance with farmers and ranchers who want to share their land and the medicines that are on it,” says Joely BigEagle Kequahtooway with Buffalo People Arts Institute, who attended the launch. “This is a tangible example of reconciliation in action.”

Morley and Paula Maier’s mixed farm near Yorkton is one of many in the province to join the Treaty Land Sharing Network.

Morley said he and his wife wanted to do what was right when they decided to join the network, which officially launched on July 15 in Bladworth, Sask.

"We know the history of Saskatchewan, we know the history of Canada. It's not a good history and it continues, and I think Paula and I, for the most part, have just decided that we don't want to be a part of that,” said Morley.

He said Indigenous land users already have permission to use the land under Treaty rights, but the network connects users and owners online before use to ensure safe and organized use.

“Without access to land, we cannot exercise our inherent rights and meet the needs of our communities,” said Bradley Desjarlais, a hunter and committee member of the Anishnabek Nation Treaty Authority. “The Treaty Land Sharing Network is not only opening access to privately held land, it is opening a possibility to build respectful and positive relationships based on the Treaty principles of mutual respect and mutual benefit.”

Indigenous land users can access the farmland in the network to gather plants, medicines, hunt and hold ceremonies.