OTTAWA, Feb. 23 /CNW Telbec/ - The Assembly of the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador (AFNQL) presented a testimony within the scope of consultations on Bill C-10 Budget Implementation Act, 2009 to the Standing Committee on Finance of the House of Commons.
Following are a few excerpts of the short speech presented by the Grand Chief of the Anishnabeg Algonquin Nation, Mr. Lucien Wabanonik and the Chief of Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg, Mr. Gilbert Whiteduck:
"Deprived from their territories and resources, the First Nations live a
situation of permanent economic recession. The First Nations are
sensitive to what the Canadian population is currently living. However,
we warn the government: the poor state of public finances must not serve
as a pretext for maintaining or aggravating the unacceptable
socioeconomic situation lived by the First Nations".
"Investments in Housing and Safe Drinking Water to Aboriginal Communities are a far cry from the needs.
Out of the announced $400 M, our communities will benefit at the very best, $20 M per year for two years. The needs would require ten times this amount, and this, over a five-year period, in order the meet the social housing needs of the First Nations of Quebec/Labrador.
In regards to improving the conditions linked to safe drinking water as well as wastewater, the AFNQL estimated the needs of communities as being close to $100M".
"Following the presentation of the federal budget, First Nations of Quebec express also their major concerns about the under-funding of education, by noting that the sums invested by the government do not tally with the needs or the gaps identified in several studies.
According to an analysis on financing carried out by the First Nations Education Council (FNEC), a loss in real monetary value of $28.1 M will be brought about by the fact of not taking into account the increase of the cost of living and the number of students, solely for the region of Quebec and for the year 2009-10. In Canada, this loss is assessed to $267.3 M. And this has been going on since 1996".
The 2% limit imposed to expenses linked to First Nations
"This serious drop in education is only one example of a situation which persists since the federal government imposed a limit of 2% in regards to expenses of Indian government programs, and this, since 1996. During that period, our population has increased by 25%. The consequences of such a measure on our populations are huge and have repercussions over a long period of time. It is a loss of investments in our communities that DIAND itself does not hesitate to assess at 1 billion $".
Critical situation of the Algonquin community of Kitcisakik
"We also wish to remind you that the community of Kitcisakik is still expecting an answer on its project of a new village. The village of Wanaki should be replacing the current infrastructures of the village of Kitcisakik, where Algonquins have been living in dire living conditions, in small houses without electricity and without running water. Added to adequate houses, the new village would have public infrastructures, such as a school and a sports center. In 2007, the project was evaluated at $120 million".
"We are asking you to not apply a policy of negation towards our nations; we can become partners and succeed. This is the will and the hope that we entertain, in spite of these hard times for everybody".
The Assembly of the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador is the regional organization regrouping the Chiefs of the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador.
SOURCE Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador
For further information: For further information: Alain Garon, Communications Officer, AFNQL, (418) 842-5020