OTTAWA, Feb. 28, 2013 /CNW/ - Convening on the 40th anniversary of the historic Calder judgment by the Supreme Court of
Canada, political leaders at the Land Claims Agreements Coalition
national conference today called upon the Government of Canada to fully
and fairly implement modern treaties. Mr. Justice Thomas Berger, the
lawyer who argued the Calder case, encouraged the Coalition to hold the
Government of Canada accountable for modern treaty implementation.
Cathy Towtongie, President of Nunavut Tunngavik, and Mitchell Stevens,
President of the Nisga'a Nation and co-chairs of the Land Claims
Agreements Coalition, confirmed their willingness to work
co-operatively with Bernard Valcourt, the recently appointed Minister
of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.
"The lack of implementation represents a missed opportunity for all
Canadians," said President Stevens. "A recent study showed that the
cost of non-implementation is hundreds of millions of dollars per
year. This is not acceptable to the modern treaty holders and it
should not be acceptable to Canadians." He said that implementing
treaties allows Aboriginal people to become more self-reliant and
self-sufficient, a goal shared by all Canadians.
Speakers and panelists at the "Keeping the Promise: The Path Ahead to
Full Modern Treaty Implementation" conference echoed these sentiments
and reminded delegates that much has been accomplished in the past 40
years since the first modern treaty was signed in Quebec, but remains
much work to be done.
Terry Audla, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, said "the promise of
the Treaty Relationship between the Crown and Aboriginal People has
been badly eroded," pointing to the lack of implementation of policies
in key areas such as health, education, housing and food security.
Matthew Coon Come, Grand Chief of the Grand Council of the Crees said
"Modern treaties are an essential part of the foundation of this
country. The legitimacy of Canada's claim to these lands, and to the
resources they hold is entirely dependent on these treaties. If the
solemn promises contained in modern treaties are not implemented
according to their full spirit and intent, there remains a fundamental
defect in Canada's very foundation."
Shawn Atleo, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations pledged
AFN's support to the land claims coalition. The Land Claims Coalition,
whose membership consists of all modern treaty organizations in Canada,
announced its intent to develop a Report Card on Modern Treaty
Implementation. All modern treaty holders agree that the Government of
Canada is failing in its obligation to uphold the spirit and intent of
modern treaties and to develop policies and work effectively with
treaty holders to implement them.
"In relation to Aboriginal issues, the media focuses on community
accountability," said Ruth Massie, Grand Chief of the Council for Yukon
First Nations. "We insist that the Government of Canada be accountable
for its part of the treaty relationship. This is why we will develop
the Implementation Report Card, in co-operation with third party
organizations and academics."
Formed in 2003, the Land Claims Agreements Coalition brings together all
Canadian modern treaty organizations in Canada. The Coalition's mandate
is to press the Government of Canada to respect, honour and fully
implement comprehensive land claims and associated self-government
agreements in order to achieve their objectives. Taken collectively,
modern treaties affect nearly half of Canada's lands, waters and
SOURCE: LAND CLAIMS AGREEMENTS COALITION
For further information:
Patti Black, Coordinator
Land Claims Agreements Coalition