NAN Chiefs take stance against Bill 191

    CHAPLEAU, ON, Aug. 12 /CNW/ - Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief
Stan Beardy, together with the 49 NAN First Nation Chiefs, Elders, Women,
Youth and supporters, attended a Standing Committee hearing today at the
Chapleau Recreation Centre to reiterate their call for the immediate
withdrawal of Bill 191, the Far North Act.
    "We want the standing committee to be clear that we want legislation that
is respectful to our processes, and which does not unilaterally set aside a
vast tract of land without our consultation and consent," said Nishnawbe Aski
Nation Grand Chief Stan Beardy immediately after his presentation. "We are not
opposed to the idea of protected areas via land use plans. Instead we want
legislation that recognizes and protects our interests in addition to the
protection of our sacred homelands."
    The Far North Act will set aside 225,000 square kilometres as a protected
area within NAN First Nation homelands without their consultation,
accommodation or consent. It will effectively lock down the land to prevent
First Nations, among the poorest people in Canada, from achieving economic
independence by preventing the development needed to build healthy communities
and help strengthen the Ontario economy.
    "To set up a hearing process that makes it extremely difficult, if not
impossible for people that will be directly impacted by the proposed
legislation is not only disrespectful but goes against the fundamental belief
of our democratic principles," said Frank Beardy, lead negotiator for
Oski-Machiitawin on the hearing process, which will see visits from Standing
Committee members to municipalities outside the impacted area for public
input, but not to the communities located within the area under consideration
for protection.

    Nishnawbe Aski Nation is a political territorial organization
representing 49 First Nation communities in James Bay Treaty 9 and the Ontario
portion of Treaty 5 - an area covering two thirds of the province of Ontario.

For further information:

For further information: Michael Heintzman - Nishnawbe Aski Nation,
(705) 864-2600 or (807) 621-2790 mobile

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