Consultation, not arbitrary laws, needed to address First Nations' Issues

Prime Minister can start by meeting Chief Spence, Aboriginal leaders

TORONTO, Dec. 20, 2012 /CNW/ - Rather than proceed with bills that adversely affect First Nations sovereignty and lands, the Prime Minister should meet with Aboriginal leaders and hold proper consultations on the bills' impacts, according to the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO).

"The Prime Minister can start by meeting with Attawapiskat Chief Teresa Spence who has taken to a hunger strike as a last resort to send the government a message," said ETFO President Sam Hammond. "We support her efforts, and the goals of the "Idle No More" aboriginal movement, to draw attention to current government bills that will make it more difficult for First Nations communities to protect their sovereignty and lands."

A number of federal bills address issues including Aboriginal fisheries, and changes in environmental assessment processes and development projects that will have an adverse impact on First Nations' lands.

"As we have seen with other federal actions, the Harper government is putting industrial development ahead of the basic rights of First Nations and other Canadians. The actions of Chief Spence and the "Idle No More" movement are sending a clear message to the government and the public that their rights must be respected and addressed with appropriate solutions," added Hammond.

In June, ETFO announced it is developing a comprehensive campaign to support education, equity, and social justice in Ontario Aboriginal communities. Since 2005, ETFO has supported the Lieutenant Governor's Summer Literacy Initiatives for isolated First Nations communities, and is a key sponsor of the Right To Play Youth Leadership Program in 35 First Nations communities.

The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario represents 76,000 elementary public school teachers and education professionals across the province and is the largest teacher federation in Canada.

SOURCE: Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario

For further information:

Valerie Dugale, ETFO Media Relations: Cell: 416-948-0195