WHITEFISH RIVER FIRST NATION, ON, June 25 /CNW/ - Chiefs of the 42 member
communities of the Anishinabek Nation have launched a campaign to eliminate
the inappropriate use of the term "aboriginal".
During the annual Grand Council Assembly in this Manitoulin Island
community, Chiefs endorsed a resolution that characterized the word as
"another means of assimilation through the displacement of our First
Nation-specific inherent and treaty rights."
"It's actually offensive to hear that term used in reference to First
Nations citizens," said Grand Council Chief John Beaucage. "Our Chiefs are
giving us direction to inform government agencies, NGOs, educators and media
organizations that they should discontinue using inappropriate terminology
when they are referring to the Anishinabek. We respect the cultures and
traditions of our Metis and Inuit brothers and sisters, but their issues are
different from ours."
The resolution notes that "there are no aboriginal bands, aboriginal
reserves, or aboriginal chiefs" and that the reference to "aboriginal rights"
referred to in Section 35 of the Constitution Act of Canada "was never meant
to assimilate First Nations, Metis and Inuit into a homogeneous group."
Chief Patrick Madahbee of Aundeck Omni Kaning said: "Referring to
ourselves as Anishinabek is the natural thing to do because that is who we
are. We are not Indians, natives, or aboriginal. We are, always have been and
always will be Anishinabek."
Beaucage said that the resolution's goal of encouraging the use of
respectful terminology could lead to changes in organizational names.
"We have lived with The Indian Act since 1876, but the legislation's
provisions are as archaic as its name - and we hope it won't be around for too
much longer." Beaucage said the resolution could result in re-naming the
Anishinabek Nation's corporate arm, which has been known as the Union of
Ontario Indians since 1949. "Those terms were acceptable then, but today we
recognize them as confusing and inappropriate."
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.
For further information:
For further information: Bob Goulais, Executive Assistant to the Grand
Council Chief, Anishinabek Nation - Union of Ontario Indians, Head Office:
Nipissing First Nation, P.O. Box 711, North Bay, ON, P1B 8J8, Ph. (705)
497-9127, Fx. (705) 497-9135, CELL: (705) 498-5250, E-mail:
email@example.com, Internet: http://www.anishinabek.ca/uoi