New gaming bill tabled in Canadian Senate seeks ‘economic reconciliation’ with First Nations

First Nations
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Senator Scott Tannas has urged for the rights of First Nations to be respected after introducing Bill S-268 in the Canadian Senate last week.

The bill would amend the Indian Act and section 207 of the Criminal Code, granting First Nations the exclusive authority to licence, conduct and manage gaming operations on its reserves.

Speaking at a news conference on Parliament Hill last Tuesday, Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Chief Bobby Cameron delivered a powerful speech in which he detailed the importance of the bill, calling it a “positive step forward” after nearly three decades of campaigning.

He said: “This particular bill will enhance and improve First Nation quality of lives, on our communities coast to coast to coast.

“It secures and acquires First Gaming jurisdiction for gaming on reserves for each Chief and Council and community out there.

“Finally some true reconciliation in action.”

Echoing Cameron’s sentiments, Sen. Tannas called on the Legislature to support First Nations with a bill that provides security and ownership.

“We are in an era of recognizing the rights of indigenous governments, the sovereignty that they gave. We are also in an era of economic and spiritual reconciliation,” said Sen. Tannas. 

“This bill simply asserts what we all know to be the truth – that indigenous governments have sovereignty on their own lands, and in particular when it comes to business pursuits.”

He added: “Currently, indigenous gaming facilities see their provinces rake a significant amount of the funds into their general revenues.

“We suspect the provinces will have something to say about this – this will have a cost.”

Meanwhile, Reginald Bellerose, the former Chief of Muskowekwan First Nation and the current chair of the board for the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority, has also voiced his approval of the bill.

“This is an important day,” he remarked. “We believe First Nations are the best casino operators in the country. This bill will allow more jobs, and more revenue going back to First Nations.”

In other recent legislative news, and following the bill read by Sen. Tannas last Tuesday, Senator Marty Deacon unveiled Bill S-269, aimed at uniting government and provinces in the fight to curb the volume and velocity of sports betting advertisements in Canada.

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