First Nations’ National Day of Action Tomorrow

June 28, 2007 · Print This Article · Email This Post

AFN, Chief Phil FontaineThe Assembly of First Nations (AFN), headed by Chief Phil Fontaine and which represents First Nation’ citizens throughout Canada, has put out a call for a National Day of Action on 29 June. Highlights in Ontario include a march from Ottawa’s City Hall to Victoria Island, where speakers will include Fontaine, Buzz Hargrove (National President, Canadian Autoworkers Union); Hassan Yussuff (Secretary Treasurer, Canadian Labour Congress); Stephane Dion (Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada); and Jack Layton (Leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada). Since Confederation in 1867, Canadian Indians have endured many of the same problems that plague American First Nation tribes, namely crippling poverty and attempts to “assimilate” indigenous people into mainstream culture, thus erasing their indigenous heritage.

The focus of this National Call to Action includes such demands as:

  • Calling on Parliament to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
  • Implementation of First Nations’ governments and a concomitant effort to invest in that implementation, including removal of the current oppressive cap on funding; and
  • Expedited resolution of First Nations’ land claims.

The AFN also calls on all Canadians to stamp out First Nations’ poverty. An AFN PSA addresses this poverty, saying:

“First Nations’ poverty is the single greatest social injustice facing Canada. Canada is one of the wealthiest nations, all because of the generosity and land of our ancestors. Yet First Nations endure poverty and third world conditions in their own homeland.

“This injustice is met with silence. The unacceptable is accepted.

“The Department of Indian and Northern Affairs admits it knows that First Nations face serious funding shortfalls because of a decade-long cap that has frozen funding growth at only two percent a year. This is causing serious health and safety risks to our families and children. Yet the Government of Canada fails to fix this fiscal discrimination.”

“First Nations’ poverty is creating crisis and conflict. First Nations are denied basic rights like access to safe drinking water. First Nations suffer from chronic housing shortages and overcrowding, see their children apprehended and placed in child welfare at alarming rates, and grieve as their youth kill themselves in epidemic proportions. These statistics are well-known, yet the Government fails to respond decisively with a real plan for action.

“Instead, the Government of Canada fuels frustration by taking a unilateral, piecemeal and scattered approach which lacks vision and ignores fundamental issues. The Government is not engaging meaningfully with First Nations, is not listening to its own recommendations and solutions as agreed to by First Nations and the Government in documents like the 1996 Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, the agreement reached at the First Ministers Meeting on Aboriginal Issues and the AFN-Crown Political Accord for the Recognition and Implementation of First Nation Governments (2005).

“The Government of Canada opposes Aboriginal rights internationally and domestically. The Government is working to defeat passage of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which affirms Indigenous peoples’ collective right to self determination. The Government is undermining collective rights in Canada by trying to force First Nations to adopt legislation that prioritizes individual rights at the expense of collective rights. The Government is actively denying First Nations the processes, resources and timelines required to foster First Nations solutions.”

“First Nations assert the right to full and effective enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms — both collective and individual — including the right to self determination, without hindrance or adverse discrimination, as recognized in international law and in section 35 of Canada’s own 1982 Constitution Act. First Nations assert their right to land, life and justice.”

And a tip of the hat to Daisy of Haileybury, Ontario for this timely news tip.

Read more First Nation news.

Photo credit: AFN

Copyright © 2007


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