Muskeg Lake Cree Nation: Cree Law Gathering
Muskeg Lake Cree Nation (MLCN) seeks the knowledge of Nēhīyaw wēyasiwewina – to shape the development of their constitution.
“It has long been known that the foundation of nationhood is based on elements that are grounded in our collective understandings of our own laws of the land and the laws of the people, given to us by the Creator,” says MLCN Governance Coordinator Jarita Greyeyes.
MLCN recognizes that: to revitalize an Indigenous state of sovereignty, they need to get back to the foundation of Nēhīyaw wēyasiwewina. The objective is to replace their current colonized governance system, MLCN recognizes that a nation’s first step means obtaining a better understanding of the Indigenous laws that governed the Nēhīyawak for thousands of years. This first step comes in the form of a Cree Law Gathering, which will be held on March 23rd and 24th at Wanuskewin Heritage Park. The gathering will bring together a select group of knowledgeable Cree Elders invited to share their teachings about Nēhīyaw wēyasiwewina.
Assisting MLCN will be a team of top-notch researchers, Cree translators, and a videographer. “As a Nation, we have become a lawless people. The Canadian common law is not our way, so the underlying principles are not part of our being. If we were to go back to our principles, still maintained in our songs, our stories, our elders, we can bring back our own laws,” says Sylvia McAdam project researcher.
NCFNG Prairie Region has been on the journey to self-determination with MLCN since 2009 and sees the gathering as an important step towards reclaiming the traditional knowledge that is needed to build a culturally relevant and truly innovative governance structure. Once this phase is completed, the relevant Cree laws, values and principles identified by the Elders will be incorporated into the MLCN constitution, which is intended to be the mechanism that will acknowledge their way of life as Nēhīyawak.