Speech from the Throne "a step in the right direction" for Canada's Aboriginal Peoples



    National Chief cites rights legislation, apology on residential schools
    and sustainable approach to improvements as beacons of hope

    OTTAWA, Oct. 17 /CNW Telbec/ - Canada's youngest national Aboriginal
leader today applauded the Harper government's Speech for Throne delivered in
Ottawa last evening, for committing to the introduction of legislation to
guarantee to First Nations citizens the same protections as other Canadians
enjoy under the Canadian Human Rights Act.
    Patrick Brazeau, National Chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples
(CAP) has been rigorously calling for the reintroduction of this legislation,
which had died on the Order Paper when Prime Minister Harper prorogued
Parliament in early September.
    Chief Brazeau was also supportive of the government's focus on action
versus rhetoric and posturing in the Speech from the Throne. "We were looking
for more than gestures in this speech - we sought evidence that the Harper
government was listening to Aboriginal peoples at the grassroots level. In
particular, with the reintroduction of legislation to protect the human rights
of First Nations citizens, we are very pleased. Our organization has been very
assertive in its call for this to occur, and in yesterday's speech we heard
that our calls for action were answered," said the National Chief.
    The National Chief was quick to note other areas of forward movement in
Canada's Aboriginal affairs in yesterday's Speech from the Throne. "The
commitment to proceed with legislation on specific claims, and to bring about
improvements in Northern Aboriginal housing were ones that were among many
made by the Harper team to the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples during the 2006
election campaign.
    We intend on working with the government to ensure that every commitment
made - and particularly those aimed at improving quality of life and
opportunity for the off-reserve constituency - are respected and realized by
the Prime Minister and Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl," added Chief
Brazeau.
    The National Chief also pointed to other areas where commitments in the
Speech from the Throne should apply to the Aboriginal community. "The
government has pledged to improve support for Canada's veterans who have
contributed so much to defending Canada. Any such support must include our
Aboriginal veterans who have been neglected and forgotten for far too long.
Similarly, sustainable investments in families and their futures must include
provisions for the off-reserve Aboriginal community, which continues to be
plagued by homelessness and poverty," asserted National Chief Brazeau.
    The Congress supports the government's view that Canada's greatest
strength lies in its energy and determination to move forward and build a
better future. CAP believes that an important step in moving forward is to
deal with the issues of past with finality and respect. The commitment by the
Harper government to make a statement of apology in respect of the resolution
of the tragedy of Indian Residential Schools is the moral and proper thing to
do to close this sad chapter in Canadian history.
    CAP remains committed to working with governments, other national
Aboriginal organizations, and especially with community groups and grassroots
Aboriginal peoples to measurably and sustainably improve the lives of
Aboriginal peoples regardless of their Indian status or where they live.
    Chief Brazeau concluded: "The Speech from the Throne offers some concrete
steps to deal with some of the issues that bedevil Aboriginal Canadians. Those
for whom we speak need hope, and we believe the measures in yesterday's speech
offer just that. We will continue to look to the government to ensure that the
full range of commitments made to the Congress in during the 2006 election
continue to serve as the roadmap to the prosperity for Canada's off-reserve
Aboriginal peoples."




For further information:

For further information: Al Fleming, Congress of Aboriginal Peoples,
(613) 867-8696

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CONGRESS OF ABORIGINAL PEOPLES

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