WENDAKE, QC, June 11, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ - "By drastically and high-handedly decreasing the funds of all Aboriginal representative organizations in Canada, Stephen Harper is certainly hoping to silence us... he will not succeed", states Ghislain Picard, Chief of the AFNQL.
For more than thirty years, the government of Canada has been providing financial support to First Nations political organizations, with a view to help them participate in Canadian politics, amongst other things. This funding is subject to reports and regular audits.
"In the course of the past week, the AFNQL received from the Harper government two contradictory messages: on the one part, an invitation to testify before a House of Commons Standing Committee, and on the other, a letter from the Deputy-Minister of Aboriginal Affairs confirming a major cutback in resources which, the AFNQL actually needs in order to participate in this type of parliamentary activity. I cannot help but feel there is a certain amount of hypocrisy", added Ghislain Picard.
Without recognizing the authority of Canada over its populations and its own governments, First Nations agree to regularly participate in Canadian politics out of respect for its institutions, and more particularly in parliamentary activities. Analyzing legislations, drafting briefs, traveling to Ottawa, all this requires resources; resources which the Harper government now seems determined to keep for themselves. With the drastic, unilateral and significant decrease of funding of Aboriginal representative organizations, what is the objective of Stephen Harper's government? This is the key question that the AFNQL Chiefs gathered in Assembly this week, need to ask.
"Five years ago today, Stephen Harper formally apologized for the treatment imposed by Canada on Aboriginal children in residential schools. Do we have to wait for another ten or twenty years for another Prime Minister to apologize for other historic wrongs?"
"When Stephen Harper formally committed in January 2012, on behalf of Canada, to review the historic and fundamental relationship between the Crown and the First Nations, we were pleased to welcome his comments with hope and respect. Were we right to do so?"
"The question is asked", concluded Chief Ghislain Picard.
About the AFNQL
The Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador is the political organization of 43 Chiefs of the First Nations in Quebec and Labrador. www.apnql-afnql.com.
SOURCE: Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador
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