POLITICS
05/21/2014 11:00 EDT | Updated 07/21/2014 05:59 EDT

Aboriginal leaders to press Prince Charles on treaty issues

Yesterday Edna Nabess put the final hand-stitches on moccasins that will be presented to Prince Charles and Camilla — a size 9 for him and a size 10 for her.

“I chose these colors because they're so vibrant and they remind me of our culture,” said Nabess. “We were taught when visitors come, to give our very best and this is my very best.”

Prince Charles and his wife Camilla are in Winnipeg today. Their agenda includes a visit to the zoo and Manitoba's so-called Innovation Alley.

They will also meet with aboriginal leaders who will press the Prince on treaty and environmental issues.

Aboriginal people have a special relationship with the Crown stretching back to the Royal Proclamation of 1763, a document that’s seen as a bill of rights for indigenous people. 200 years later, Prince Charles was given an honorary chieftainship by the Blood Tribe in Alberta.

During royal visits in 2009 and 2010 aboriginal leaders complained about the slow pace of treaty negotiations with Ottawa. Prince Charles followed up their concerns with a meeting on treaties two years ago.

“I see him as an ally,” said Derek Nepinak, head of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs. He wants a stronger commitment that the Crown will protect their interests.

“I have a responsibility for raising it with him and that's what I'll do.”

Prince Charles is a well-known environmentalist, but some activists say he's not doing enough.

“He should know the major issue on the environment in the country are the pipelines,” said Niigaan Sinclair, who  teaches at the University of Manitoba.

“He should be advocating to larger bodies like the federal government.”

Sinclair and others would also like to see Charles take a strong stand against the Alberta tarsands.