VANCOUVER, June 26, 2012 /CNW/ - In the wake of recent media reports about the blockade of polling stations to prevent Sliammon First Nation citizens from exercising their right to cast ballots on the proposed Sliammon treaty, the leadership and citizens of the Maa-Nulth First Nations want to take this opportunity to express our support for the electors, elected leaders and treaty negotiators of the Sliammon First Nation. As leaders of the five First Nations that entered into the Maa-nulth Treaty in 2011, we are distressed at this subversion of the democratic process in another First Nation.
All First Nations, First Nation governments and First Nation negotiators that participate in the treaty process in British Columbia do so with the full expectation of participating in good faith negotiations, concluding an agreement-in-principle and, subsequently, a treaty and presenting that agreement to its citizens for ratification in a referendum. These First Nations go to extensive lengths to ensure that their citizens are fully informed about the treaty and that each individual is allowed to cast their ballot in a safe environment, privately and in accordance with their personal beliefs.
It is extremely distressing for those of us who aspire to construct healthier and more productive communities to watch as a small group of people, through intimidation, subvert the democratic process and deny Sliammon citizens their civil and political right to express their preference on this important issue. It is equally distressing to see people from outside the Sliammon community intervening in the communities affairs.
The forceful interference with or prevention of a citizen's right to vote is an offence under Canadian law. One can easily imagine how such conduct would have been dealt with if this were a federal or provincial election.
Throughout the world, ordinary people are fighting and dying to secure democratic regimes and to guarantee the right of expression through the ballot box.
Right thinking Canadians, aboriginal or otherwise, should not stand silently by while these fundamental rights are under assault. Let the Sliammon people decide whether this treaty is right for them.
|Jeff Cook, Chief Councillor||Therese Smith, Legislative Chief|
|Huu-ay-aht First Nations||Ka:'yu:k't'h'/Che:k'tles7et'h' First Nations|
|Anne Mack, Tyee Ha'wilth||Charlie Cootes, Chief Councillor|
|Toquaht Nation||Uchucklesaht Tribe|
|Chuck McCarthy, President|
|Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ First Nation|
For further information:
Charlie Cootes, Chief Councillor
Therese Smith, Legislative Chief
Ka:'yu:k't'h'/Che:k'tles7et'h' First Nations
Charles McCarthy, President
Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ First Nation
Anne Mack, Tyee Ha'wilth
Jeff Cook, Chief Councillor
Huu-ay-aht First Nations
Chuck Poschenrieder / Martha Johnson
The First Nations of the Maa-nulth Treaty Society