OTTAWA, March 23 /CNW Telbec/ - "Monday's budget will ensure that First
Nations remain in last place," stated National Chief Phil Fontaine, "This is
not just a failure that will harm First Nations communities for generations,
it will impact all Canadians through missed economic opportunity and continued
"Canadians value equality and diversity. I do not believe that any
Canadian wants to see shocking poverty in their backyard," said National Chief
Fontaine. "By ignoring the needs of the poorest in this country, this
government has chosen to raise the unnecessary risk of confrontation, an issue
highlighted in a recent Senate Report, instead of fulfilling its historic
obligations to negotiate with First Nations peoples. The success of the
Residential Schools Agreement is proof that negotiation is the surest way to
effectively resolve longstanding issues that have plagued our relationship."
Last month, National Chief Fontaine hosted a Call to Action Against First
Nations Poverty on Parliament Hill. He was joined by a long list of
international and national organizations and Parliamentarians who support the
elimination of First Nations poverty as a top priority for the federal budget.
Since the release of the budget, many of these organizations have joined
National Chief Fontaine in denouncing it.
"Once again, the Conservative budget fails to address poverty facing
First Nations peoples in Canada. It's shameful to see anyone in this country
living in such Third World conditions today," said Canadian Auto Workers union
President, Buzz Hargrove.
"Our Union will continue to demand that the government fully implement
the Kelowna Accord, and ensure that there is a sustained investment for the
revival of the economic, social, cultural and health status of First Nations
"There should have been financial commitments in the budget that would
effectively address fundamental needs like access to clean water, housing,
education and settlement to land claims," added Hargrove.
"Make Poverty History is dismayed that the 2007 Conservative budget does
nothing to make poverty history for First Nations, the poor in Canada and
around the world. With so much surplus available, there is no justifiable
reason for lack of action on what should be the most important priority for
Canada," said Gerry Barr, Co-chair of Make Poverty History.
The churches and church organizations that form KAIROS (Canadian
Ecumenical Justice Initiatives) also expressed their profound disappointment
of the Conservative government's decision to essentially ignore Aboriginal
peoples in its 2007 Budget, in keeping with its previous decisions to abandon
the Kelowna Accord and oppose the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of
Indigenous Peoples. KAIROS is dismayed that the budget contains no specific
measures to address the fact that Aboriginal peoples remain among the poorest
in Canada, with a severe shortage of adequate housing, challenges accessing
health care, and lack of support for Aboriginal women and children.
The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing
First Nations citizens in Canada.
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