OTTAWA, May 24, 2018 /CNW/ - The first Indigenous-led summit to explore moving beyond the Indian Act closed today with a strong call for First Nations to exercise their self-determination and to forge a new path for their people. It is clear that it is time to put the destructive and demeaning Indian Act behind us and create a new framework for a Nation-to-Nation relationship.
"We have heard loud and clear that moving beyond the Indian Act must start at the community level with the full engagement of our communities," said NAN Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler. "The Government of Canada must move aside and support our people to design solutions from the ground up. Anything less is paternalistic and goes against everything we've been talking about for the past two days. We are not going to accept another federally dictated process where First Nation leaders are summoned to meet and given the option to take it or leave without true consultation."
The Summit spurred powerful conversations between Indigenous youth, women, leaders, Elders, legal and scholarly experts, and keepers of traditional Indigenous knowledge, around the Indian Act and its dire effects on First Nation communities. Participants felt that Canada cannot replace the Indian Act with a top-down legal framework that is created without input from the communities.
"We cannot recreate the legal mistakes of the past. We owe it to all Indigenous peoples to do better," said Osgoode Law School Professor Lorne Sossin, a member of the organizing committee. "Creating this new system will require a fundamental rethink of Canada's legal framework, starting from the viewpoint of decolonization. This Summit was an important step forward in identifying what is needed for success."
The two-day determiNATION Summit was convened and organized by Nishnawabe Aski Nation (NAN) in partnership with Osgoode Law School. Over the two-day discussion, a consensus emerged that the Government of Canada must abandon colonial, top-down approaches and work with First Nations people as full and equal partners in dismantling, and moving past the Indian Act.
A summary report on the summit and its findings will be released next week on determinationsummit.ca.
SOURCE Nishnawbe Aski Nation
For further information: Michael Heintzman, [email protected], 807-621-2790