Statement from Ontario Regional Chief Angus Toulouse on National Day of Action

    TORONTO, June 29 /CNW/ - The recent events in and around the area of
Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, Alderville First Nation, and near Bala, Ontario
are a result of the actions of a few individuals and are not reflective of the
collective resolve of the First Nations in Ontario. There is no doubt that
First Nations have longstanding legitimate grievances that must be addressed
now and not ten, twenty or thirty years down the road. The National Day of
Action was planned to initiate a peaceful process to raise awareness about
these legitimate grievances, and to continue to advocate for the full
recognition and respect of First Nations aboriginal and Treaty rights. First
Nations leaders are responsible to represent, and speak for their citizens.
First Nations leaders have clearly stated that the frustration and despair in
our communities is palpable. We cannot stand by and pretend this is not the
case. First Nations leaders have done their utmost to bring this situation to
light, while advocating peaceful and constructive measures to build momentum
and support for genuine, positive action on the part of governments to improve
the quality of life for First Nations citizens. This means taking action to
move beyond the grinding poverty and the hopelessness that exists now.
    We are all responsible to address and improve this situation --- First
Nations leaders, Canadians, and Government. One must ask themselves why it
takes blockades, or threats of blockades and occupations to force the
Government to act. The Oka crisis in 1990 forced some change. For example, the
Indian Claims Commission was established following the conclusion of the Oka
crisis. Additionally, the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) was
created. The 400 or so recommendations from the RCAP have been all but
ignored. Now in 2007, with the threat of blockades and further uncertainty
once again looming, both levels of government have made positive announcements
that First Nations leaders have been advocating for over many years. These
announcements include the creation of an independent body to settle land
claims, and for more resources to support the settlement of claims in a more
expedient manner. Why does it have to come to this for the government to act?
Canadians must ask their elected officials this question.
    First Nations people believe in resolving differences in a peaceful
manner. We remain committed to this principle and implore all First Nations
citizens to stand with us in our collective efforts. The First Nation
leadership in Ontario appeals for calm, restraint and good judgment on the
part of all parties on this National Day of Action. We are appealing to all
First Nations citizens to focus on the true message and to not lose sight of
it, as this will only serve to detract us from achieving progress and building
a strong network of support. We call on the Government of Canada to work with
First Nations leadership in a true spirit of partnership, reflective of the
Nation to Nation relationship that the sacred Treaties established. First
Nations leaders call on both levels of government to move beyond the rhetoric
by taking concrete and immediate actions to settle our legitimate grievances.
The policies of inaction have consequences, and unfortunately, we are seeing
more and more what these consequences can be. This benefits no one, and hurts
all of us. Let's finally move beyond the status quo. First Nations leaders in
Ontario are certainly willing to move forward in a positive manner for the
good of all our citizens.

For further information:

For further information: Pam Hunter, (905) 683-0322 or Policy Advisor,
(613) 720-5539

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Chiefs of Ontario

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