Anishinabek list election priorities, urge First Peoples vote



    NIPISSING FIRST NATION, ON, Sept. 23 /CNW/ - Anishinabek Nation
leadership has identified a set of priorities to be addressed by candidates in
the Oct. 14 federal election to complement a campaign that urges active
participation by the estimated 100,000 eligible First Nations, Metis and Inuit
voters in Ontario.
    "We need to ensure that all candidates and parties are aware of our key
issues," said Grand Council Chief John Beaucage, in releasing the Anishinabek
Nation White Paper on Election Issues. "But First Peoples also need to use
their votes to ensure that our priorities are Canada's priorities."
    Anishinabek Nation leaders will be seeking commitments and support for
the White Paper's five key priorities:

    
    1.  Eliminating poverty through implementation of the Anishinabek Nation
        Economic Blueprint and enhancing First Nations economic capacity;
    2.  Enhancing Education and Training opportunities to enable Anishinabek
        youth to enter the skilled workforce;
    3.  A renewed focus on the Treaties and Treaty Implementation, including
        provisions for resource revenue-sharing;
    4.  Adopting and Implementing the United Nations Declaration on the
        Rights of Indigenous Peoples;
    5.  Commitment to protecting and proliferating First Nations languages -
        including funding of an Anishinabek Language Immersion Institute.
    

    The Anishinabek Nation White Paper on Election Issues will be posted on
the Anishinabek Nation website (www.anishinabek.ca) and the First Peoples Vote
website (www.firstpeoplesvote.com). First Peoples Vote was unveiled in the
2007 Ontario election. An updated website includes and some 11,000 flyers
being distributed across the province are targeting eligible First Peoples
voters, informing them that they represent "swing votes" in at least ten
Ontario federal ridings.
    Questionnaires seeking commitments and support for the White Paper's
issues will be sent to federal parties and candidates.
    "These five key priorities form our political message for this election,"
said Grand Council Chief Beaucage. "Now Anishinabek and all First Peoples must
use our ballots as our voices to carry this message to Ottawa. We must ensure
that the candidates of all political parties know what's important to us and
understand that, as MPs and as a government, the resolution of our election
issues and partnership with us is critical to our health and prosperity."
    Speaking for the 42 member communities of the Anishinabek Nation,
Beaucage said Canada's support of such initiatives as the comprehensive
Anishinabek Nation Economic Blueprint - a 20-year strategic plan to establish
self-sufficient regional and local economies - is what is required to bring an
end to the poverty, inadequate housing and negative health indicators that
plague First Peoples.
    "Canada could also contribute a great deal by agreeing to follow the
courts' recommendations for modern interpretations of the Treaties that would
see First Nations sharing in the country's natural resource wealth," Beaucage
said, referring to the White Paper proposal for a new Treaty Implementation
Process.
    The Grand Council Chief linked the White Paper's priority to protect
First Nations languages to Canada's apology for the devastating impact of the
Indian Residential Schools.
    "The Prime Minister cited the loss of our language in his June apology,"
said Beaucage, calling on Ottawa to make specific commitments to fund such
initiatives as the proposed Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe) Immersion Institute.

    The Anishinabek Nation incorporated the Union of Ontario Indians as its
secretariat in 1949. The UOI is a political advocate for 42 member First
Nations across Ontario. 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.

    
    BACKGROUNDER
    ------------
    

    The Anishinabek Nation is seeking commitments from candidates and the
political parties on the following five priorities:

    
    Eliminating poverty through implementation of the Anishinabek Economic
    Blueprint and enhancing First Nations Economic capacity
    

    First Nations in Canada are in poverty crisis. Our people live numerous
realities like overcrowded households, lack of running water and sewage
services, mould contaminated homes and buildings, secondary education
completion rates at half that of the Canadian rates, high unemployment rates
and low household incomes. First Peoples are taking innovative steps to
develop regional and local economies based on their own vision, priorities and
needs. In 2008, the Anishinabek Nation created the Anishinabek Nation Economic
Blueprint, a twenty-year strategic plan to establish self-sufficient regional
and local economies. We are seeking support from all candidates, elected
members and the Government of Canada to support and fund the implementation of
the Anishinabek Nation Economic Blueprint including enhanced funding to
development First Nations' capacity to build and enhance their own economies,
through investment in economic development.

    
    Enhancing Education and Training opportunities to enable Anishinabek
    youth to enter the skilled workforce
    

    Education and training opportunities for our young people continue to be
on the forefront for the Anishinabek Nation leadership. As we progress on
initiatives and strategies for community self sufficiency through eradication
of poverty toward economic prosperity, we must ensure we have the capacity to
fulfill our administrative responsibilities now and in the future. Our youth
of today are our future leaders. We are seeking a commitment from candidates,
elected members and the Government of Canada for a renewal of the Aboriginal
Human Resources Development Agreement (AHRDA), not under the status quo, but
with enhanced resources and investment in education, training, access and
opportunities so that young First Nations people can fully participate in
Canada's skilled workforce. First Nations need greater control over these
resources and programs based on their vision, priorities and needs.

    
    A renewed focus on the Treaties and Treaty Implementation, through Grand
    Council Chief John Beaucage's "Five Point Plan"
    

    The Treaty partnership must work to ensure that First Nations share
equally in the economic wealth of this land, to realize Treaty rights to be
educated to a level to sustain one's family and community, to ensure the
provision of health services to secure physical, emotional and mental
well-being. A national action plan or framework needs to be developed to
ensure Treaty implementation in manner that will not convert Treaties into
policy but will manifest the spirit and intent of the Treaties and the joint
commitments of mutual respect, recognition, and sharing based on a
nation-to-nation relationship. First Nations are calling for measures to
ensure equitable and modern interpretations of the treaties through a Treaty
Implementation Process, through Grand Council Chief John Beaucage's "Five
Point Plan".

    
    Commitment to protecting and proliferating First Nations languages -
    including funding of an Anishinabek Language Immersion Institute
    

    The loss of First Peoples' languages is one of saddest legacies of the
residential school era. It is estimated that only three First Peoples'
languages: Anishinaabemowin, Cree, Inuktituit will remain viable, while year
after year, fluent speakers and languages are lost into history. We refer to
the words of Prime Minister Stephen Harper who stated during the official
apology for the Indian residential schools policy whereby he states "The
government now recognizes that the consequences of the Indian residential
schools policy were profoundly negative and that this policy has had a lasting
and damaging impact on Aboriginal culture, heritage and language." The
Anishinabek Nation will continue to appeal to all candidates, elected members
and the next federal government to be a proactive supporters of
Anishinaabemowin language through the establishment of the Anishinabek
Language Immersion Institute - a critical component to cultural and language
preservation.

    
    Adopting and Implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of
    Indigenous Peoples
    

    Beyond Treaty law, the most recent and most significant development in
international human rights law for Indigenous peoples is the adoption of the
United Nations Declaration in 2007. The Declaration recognizes many important
rights of Indigenous peoples including the right to self-determination. It
expresses many important principles - for example by affirming that Indigenous
peoples are equal to all other peoples. Sadly, Canada remains one of only four
nations that have refused to sign the Declaration. The Anishinabek Nation is
calling on the next federal government to adopt and implement the United
Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.





For further information:

For further information: Bob Goulais, Executive Assistant to the Grand
Council Chief, (705) 498-5250, E-mail: goubob@anishinabek.ca; Marci Becking,
Communications Officer, (705) 497-9127, E-mail: becmar@anishinabek.ca

Organization Profile

Anishinabek Nation

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Union of Ontario Indians

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