Ontario Regional Chief Angus Toulouse responds to incident at the Stirling South Development site



    TORONTO, Sept. 17 /CNW/ - I am deeply concerned about what occurred at
the Stirling South Development site near Caledonia on September 13, 2007. I
wish Mr. Gualtieri a full and speedy recovery from the injuries that he
suffered as a result of a confrontation with Six Nations individuals. This
incident is indeed regrettable and unfortunate. As the Six Nations Hodiyenehso
(Confederacy Council) have indicated, the injuries to Mr. Gualtieri were the
result of the actions of a few individuals which are not condoned or supported
by the Confederacy.
    I do not believe that violence will enable First Nations people to
resolve their longstanding grievances any more expediently or effectively than
through the pursuit of peaceful and reasonable measures.
    I remain fully supportive of the peaceful actions of the Haudenosaunee
Six Nations in their efforts to exercise their rights and to protect their
traditional territory.
    The issue of unresolved land rights and the lawful obligations of the
Government of Canada is a complex one. It cannot be adequately explained in a
thirty second sound bite or one editorial. Over the years First Nation land
has been stolen through unfulfilled Treaty promises, outright theft and
underhanded dealings. The frustration that has accumulated as a result of
years upon years of inaction and neglect by the Government of Canada in
resolving these legitimate claims runs very deep.
    Consider that First Nations submit a claim to government which drags on
for years with no resolution and then have to watch as their land continues to
be sold off and developed while the claim remains unresolved. I cannot
emphasize enough that this is the source of considerable frustration within
First Nation communities. This is wrong and must be given immediate attention.
    The general public needs to understand that these unresolved claims are
not new requests for more land or more money. They are lawful obligations that
the Government committed to and failed to fulfill, or only partially
fulfilled. This is what First Nation people mean when they talk about "the
honour of the Crown". The Crown has not lived up to their end of the bargain
while our people continue to be mired in poverty and continue to have their
rights trampled on. First Nations are not asking for more -- we are simply
reclaiming what is rightfully ours. The land is who we are; it is central to
our identities and this will not change. First Nations people view their
access to their land and the resources within it as the key component to their
survival and as a way to pull ourselves out of the grinding poverty which far
too many of our First Nations people experience.
    Yesterday the United Nations (UN) General Assembly voted to approve the
UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This is significant for
many reasons. Firstly, that it acknowledged that First Nation people "have
suffered historic injustices" as a result of colonization and the
dispossession of their lands". Furthermore the UN Declaration reaffirmed that
"Indigenous people have the right to own, use, develop and control the lands,
territories and resources that they possess by reason of traditional ownership
or other traditional occupation or use." Although Canada opposed the
Declaration, it is expected that as a member of the UN, of the UN Human Rights
Council and a member of the international community, that Canada will
therefore respect the decision of the international community.
    It has been reported that the Provincial Government is considering
leaving the main Six Nations (Caledonia) negotiation table as a result of this
latest incident. I strongly encourage Premier McGuinty to ensure that Ontario
remains at the table as it is certain that no resolution on this matter will
be reached if the parties are not participating in negotiations. The progress
made on the negotiations to date must not be lost as a result of the actions
of a few individuals acting on their own.
    I encourage all parties to remain patient and committed to the
Six Nations (Caledonia) negotiations. I feel strongly that with good faith on
all sides and the necessary political will an agreement will be reached that
is acceptable to all.





For further information:

For further information: Pam Hunter, (416) 597-1266 or Policy Advisor,
(613) 203-3233

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Chiefs of Ontario

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