NAN response to federal budget

    THUNDER BAY, ON, Jan. 27 /CNW/ - Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief
Stan Beardy expressed cautious optimism that federal funding for
infrastructure improvements will begin to address the growing crisis faced by
NAN First Nation communities following today's release of the Government of
Canada's budget by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.
    "We are encouraged by the Government of Canada's pledge to include First
Nations in the recovery of the Canadian economy, and we hope that a good
portion of the infrastructure funding will be directed to improving the
quality of life in NAN First Nations," said Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand
Chief Stan Beardy of budget's multi-billion-dollar economic stimulus package.
"First Nations must be included in the recovery of the Canadian economy. We
hope this brings immediate action on infrastructure improvements that will
create jobs, build safer, healthier communities, and help NAN First Nations
increase their access to quality education while strengthening local
    Critical issues facing NAN communities include the high cost of living,
high rates of unemployment, low educational outcomes, poor policing services,
a housing and infrastructure crisis and a lack of access to quality health
care. Many people in NAN communities live in third world conditions, with
unemployment soaring to around 85 per cent and the high cost of living causing
never-before-seen levels of poverty and declining health.
    "Across the country, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginals alike are struggling
with the effects of this economic downturn. The success of this budget will be
determined not only by how it ensures economic security and personal health
and safety, but by whether or not that security is equally distributed to all
Canadians," said Beardy. "We hope this federal economic stimulus package will
allow NAN First Nations to strengthen their ability to take advantage of
economic opportunities that will arise as the economy recovers."
    Beardy remains hopeful that NAN can make progress with the Government of
Canada to implement rights for First Nations as guaranteed under Section 35 of
the Canadian Constitution, and is ready to move forward with
government-to-government relationships that will lay the foundation for a
strong, healthy, and prosperous future for all Canadians.

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

For further information:

For further information: Joyce Hunter, A/Director of Communications -
Nishnawbe Aski Nation, (807) 472-5638

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