TORONTO, Feb. 9, 2012 /CNW/ - UOI Offices, Nipissing First Nation
(February 9, 2012) - "If Stephen Harper wants to talk about human
rights abuses, he didn't have to go all the way to China," says Grand
Council Chief Patrick Madahbee, noting that First Nations in Canada pay
a steep price for the Conservative government ignoring their rights.
"Treaty rights protect human rights, and his government doesn't want to
pay any attention to them," said Madahbee, speaking on behalf of the 39
member communities of the Anishinabek Nation. "First Nations here at
home have rights to share in Canada's resource wealth, and to be
treated with at least the same respect as any foreign country.
"Instead of getting serious about helping First Nations become major
contributors to Canada's economy, Mr. Harper's priority is to make
trade deals with China. Instead of lecturing the Chinese about their
human rights abuses, he could set a good example here at home by
spending the same amount to educate First Nations students as is spent
on other young people in this country."
The four Anishinabek Regional Chiefs shared Madahbee's concerns about
the Harper government's lack of commitment to working on comprehensive
solutions to First Nations issues, especially ones that could help end
the chronic poverty faced by many of the 700,000 First Nations citizens
'"The very resources that are extracted from First Nations in Canada
ultimately end up on the trade table in negotiations with other
'nations' like China," said Lake Huron Regional Chief Isadore Day.
"It's as if Mr. Harper wasn't paying attention to all the discussions
about treaty rights at the recent Crown-First Nations gathering he
hosted in Ottawa."
Northern Superior Regional Chief Peter Collins said: "It's hypocritical
for the prime minister to travel halfway around the world to talk about
human rights when First Nations citizens are forced to accept lower
living standards because Canada does everything it can to exclude us
from meaningful participation in the national economy."
Southeast Regional Chief J. R. Marsden criticized the federal government
for not living up to its commitment as a signatory to the United
Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. "The Harper
government signed onto an international agreement that says First
Nations have the right to engage freely in all their traditional and
other economic activities."
Economic inequities also impose environmental penalties on First
Nations, according to Southwest Regional Chief Chris Plain. "It's not
safe for many of our citizens to drink the water or even breathe the
air in their communities. We can't afford environmental assessments."
The Anishinabek Nation established the Union of Ontario Indians as its
secretariat in 1949. The UOI is a political advocate for 39 member
communities across Ontario, representing approximately 55,000 people.
The Union of Ontario Indians is the oldest political organization in
Ontario and can trace its roots back to the Confederacy of Three Fires,
which existed long before European contact.
SOURCE Anishinabek Nation
For further information:
Marci Becking, Communications Officer
Phone: 705-497-9127 ext. 2290
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