Chief Atleo Calls on Canada to Reset Relationship Between Crown & First Nations
Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Challenges. Discussion »
OTTAWA, CANADA On Friday the head of the Assembly of First Nations, National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo, presented Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada a list containing eight items called "Fundamental Change Remedies and Actions Required for First Nations Immediately" after the meeting First Nations leaders had with the prime minister.
Facing away from the camera (center right) Prime Minister Stephen Harper addresses 20 Assembly of First Nations Chiefs
In a letter that outlines the items, Chief Atleo writes that the items (see below) "form the basis upon which to reset the relationship between the Crown and First Nations and move forward in the way our ancestors envisioned."
One key item deals directly with Bill C-45 legislation that has been a focal point of the "Idle No More" movement and hunger strikes across Canada since its passage last month, most notably the hunger strike by Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence, who is in Day 35 as of this morning.
The letter calls for Bill C-45, as well as Bill C-38, to be reconsidered. Both bills are omnibus bills that were passed without proper input of First Nations. The ramifications of these two omnibus bills severely erode protection of environmental concerns of First Nations peoples.
After Chief Atleo outlined the items, he writes: "Together we must be seized by the overwhelming need for change and to do what is necessary to achieve this."
Below are items contained within Fundamental Change Remedies and Actions Required for First Nations Immediately:
- Commitment to an immediate high level working process with Treaty Nation leadership for establishing frameworks with necessary mandates for the implementation and enforcement of Treaties on a Treaty by Treaty basis between the Treaty parties Nation-to-Nation.
- Facilitating fair, expeditious resolution of land claims through reforming the comprehensive claims policy based on recognition and affirmation of inherent rights rather than extinguishment.
- Resource Equity, Benefit and Revenue Sharing - building on treaty implementation and enforcement and comprehensive claims resolutions there must be a framework that addresses shared governance of resource development and the fair sharing of all forms of revenues and benefits generated from resource development.
- All legislation must be unquestionably consistent with s.35 of the Canadian Constitution and the United Nations Declaration on the Right of Indigenous Peoples. Legislation and provisions as in C-38 and C-45 that contravene our Treaty and inherent rights must be reconsidered and implementation of these provision be put to a halt. We must have an environmental regulatory regime in this country that respects our rights. Legislation that tinkers around the edges of the Indian Act must stop and be replaced with support for First Nation government and nation rebuilding including a mechanism for our Nations to push away from the Indian Act as they determine. To fulfill the original relationship, Canada must put in place an ongoing process that all new bill and policies of the federal government must be in full compliance with section 35 and consistent with international human rights standards.
- Fundamentally transformed fiscal relationship guaranteeing fairness and sustainability and removing all arbitrary caps and burdens on the current inefficient, ineffective and unfair funding relationship for First Nations programs and services leading to a new fiscal relationship.
- Immediate Commitment to the establishment of a National Public Commission of Inquiry on Violence Against Indigenous Women and Girls, including special focus on murdered and missing indigenous women, and the broader factors that lead to increased vulnerability among indigenous peoples.
- A guarantee, as in Shannen's Dream, of First Nation schools in every First Nation that each and every First Nation parent and child can be proud of, that fully reflects our language and cultures and provides a safe and supportive place to learn.
- In order to be more effective, progress on these areas will require fundamental change in the machinery of government including direct political oversight, a dedicated Cabinet Committee with a secretariat within the Privy Council Office with specific responsibility for the First Nation-Crown relationship to oversee implementation.
There was no clear indication of how the Canadian government will proceed after Friday's meeting. However, reportedly National Chief Atleo and Prime Minister may meet again on January 24.
posted January 14, 2013 7:40 am est