LEAMINGTON, ON, May 20 /CNW/ - National Chief candidate John Beaucage
says the recognition of Certificates of Indian Status at Canada-U.S. border
crossings is an acceptable interim measure, but that governments must
ultimately recognize the sovereign right of First Nations citizens to travel
freely in Turtle Island -- North America.
Speaking at today's general meetings of the Association of Iroquois and
Allied Indians (AIAI), the Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief called for
First Nations to unite in demanding further recognition of their governments,
citizenship laws and right to travel throughout traditional territories.
"We shouldn't have to carry a government card or seek permission to move
throughout our lands," said Beaucage. "The Creator placed us here as Nations.
We do not recognize this artificial border."
The Canada-U.S. border arbitrarily divided the traditional territories of
the Anishinabek and Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacies. The Anishinabek
Nation encompasses much of the Great Lakes basin, including portions of
Ontario, Michigan, Wisconsin and Manitoba. Haudenosaunee territory covers the
eastern portion of the Great Lakes basin, including parts of Ontario, Quebec
and New York state.
"I am calling for unity among the Anishinabek and Haudenosaunee
confederacies to send a clear message that these are our traditional lands and
we will continue to practice our inherent rights and right under the Jay
Treaty to cross the Canada-U.S. border freely," said Beaucage.
"We are pleased to learn that the new, secure Status Cards will be
eligible as an accepted form of identification under the Western Hemisphere
Travel Initiative, but these changes do not go far enough in recognizing our
Nationhood," said the Grand Council Chief, who was informed last week that the
U.S. Department of Homeland Security approved the use of the new Certificate
of Indian Status being produced by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada.
The new cards will not be available to all First Nations citizens in time
for a June 1st deadline requiring passports, Nexus cards or enhanced drivers
licenses when crossing the Canada-U.S. border, but U.S. Customs and Border
Protection officers may have discretion to permit entry to any Indian person
using the previous Status Cards, accompanied by a birth certificate and letter
of blood quantum.
As part of his campaign for the office of National Chief of the Assembly
of First Nations, Beaucage is calling for the Crown to recognize First Nations
as a legitimate order of government in Canada, with the right to develop their
own constitutions, their own citizenship laws and identification cards
The Anishinabek Nation has been advising all First Nations citizens to
assert their rights and true citizenship verbally and respectfully with border
officials. "However, if you MUST cross the border for business or ceremonies,
ensure you are prepared with valid documentation. If you do not have this as a
back-up, you may be turned away and refused admittance into the U.S."
The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is the National organization
representing First Nations in Canada. There are over 630 First Nation
communities in Canada. The elected Chiefs from each First Nation will cast
their vote to elect the National Chief in Calgary, Alberta on July 22, 2009.
Grand Council Chief John Beaucage is a citizen of Wasauksing First
Nation, and has led the 42 member First Nations of the Anishinabek Nation in
Ontario since 2004.
For further information:
For further information: Marci Becking, Communications Advisor, (705)
497-9127, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Bob Goulais, Executive Assistant to
the Grand Council Chief, (705) 498-5250, E-mail: email@example.com