SAGKEENG FIRST NATION, May 21 /CNW/ - Grand Council Chief John Beaucage,
a candidate for the office of National Chief, says the federal government
should withdraw its proposed legislation concerning on-reserve matrimonial
Beaucage is asking the Government of Canada to withdraw the Bill in its
entirety, or the consideration of Parliament to hoist the bill from the
Parliamentary agenda through a motion of the House of Commons. He is calling
upon all opposition parties to support a possible "hoist motion."
"This legislation completely disregards the jurisdiction and inherent
rights of all First Nations and must be withdrawn," said Beaucage, addressing
a meeting of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs. "This is a flawed bill and does
not have the support of First Nations or First Nations women."
While acknowledging the importance of ensuring matrimonial equity in
on-reserve property, Beaucage said the proper approach is the one taken by the
42 member communities of the Anishinabek Nation in Ontario, who conducted
their own consultation and engagement strategy and enacted their own template
for a Matrimonial Real Property Law in 2007.
"This issue is truly about families, equity and fairness for all our
citizens - especially our children," said the Anishinabek Nation leader. "The
focus of our efforts should be on finding ways in each of our communities to
protect our children and ensure they will continue to live in a safe
Beaucage called the government's proposed Bill C-8 "a one-size-fits-all
approach that simply cannot work."
The Grand Council Chief wants the federal government to withdraw the Bill
in its entirety, or for opposition parties to remove it from the Parliamentary
The Assembly of First Nations, the AFN Women's Council, the Native
Women's Association of Canada and many other First Nations organizations
across Canada have expressed similar sentiments towards Bill C-8. During its
development Wendy Grant John, the government's own Ministerial Representative,
said that unilaterally-imposed federal legislation is not the answer.
"First Nations need to find their own solutions and implement their own
approaches to ensure equity and fairness when a marriage breaks down," said
Beaucage. "The government should focus on working with First Nations on
developing their own capacity to address solutions, through the development of
a tool-kit, draft by-laws and resources to implement custom laws on
Matrimonial Real Property."
The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is the National organization
representing First Nations in Canada. There are over 630 First Nation
communities in Canada. The elected Chiefs from each First Nation will cast
their vote to elect the National Chief in Calgary, Alberta on July 22, 2009.
Grand Council Chief John Beaucage is a citizen of Wasauksing First
Nation, and has led the 42 member First Nations of the Anishinabek Nation in
Ontario since 2004.
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