Thousands of First Nations protesters demand urgent meeting with Crown

- December 21st, 2012

More than 2,000 aboriginal protesters took a “dire” call for change to the nation’s capital on Friday in a bid to pressure the government to meet and discuss treaty rights and “crises” plaguing First Nations communities.

The demonstrators, who were taking part in a growing grassroots First Nations movement called “Idle No More,” met at Ottawa’s Victoria Island on Friday before marching to Parliament Hill.

The march, which remained peaceful, shut down a major downtown Ottawa street. The RCMP was hand to close the road and direct traffic.

Idle No More organizers say the root of frustration for many aboriginal Canadians has been growing for years, but the government’s recent omnibus budget bill is major sticking point. Bill C-45 removes certain environmental protections including the Navigable Waters Protection Act, which means companies can build dams and bridges without consulting the feds.

The federal government has indicated it will not agree to a meeting with First Nations.

Spokespeople for Harper sent out the same statement to media that it produced before the Ottawa protest.

“Our government hosted an historic gathering of the Crown and First Nations this past January,” said spokesman Carl Valle on Thursday by e-mail. “The Prime Minister and (Aboriginal Affairs) Minister (John) Duncan met as recently as Nov. 28 with National Chief (Shawn) Atleo to review the progress to date.”

But Atleo said this isn’t just about one meeting, and that First Nations are constitutionally entitled to substantive consultation.

“We are calling on the government and the Crown to respond to a call to engage in meaningful dialogue and to work with First Nations to jointly implement our title and rights and our treaty rights,” Atleo said. “That means not just a meeting with myself.”

Atleo said the movement is “united.”

“We are not going to back down,” he said.

There have been a number of recent protests and blockades across Canada as part of this push for a meeting between First Nations and the Crown. Attawapiskat First Nation Chief Theresa Spence has also launched a personal protest in Ottawa and claims to have been on a hunger strike for 11 days.

Spence’s northern Ontario reserve was the centre of international news coverage last year, when members of her community were living in unheated tents and shacks.

The government agreed to send 22 modular homes to Attawapiskat, but Spence says there is still a state of emergency in effect.

Categories: General

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  1. john stewart says:

    They send homes they will be wrecked in no time,were is the tax dollars going they don’t want any one looking at the books,so what is wrong?

  2. Jeffrey Pinhey says:

    Perhaps if the First Nations Council was responsible with the millions of dollars they’ve received there would be no need to have a third party manage the distribution of the funds.

    It’s puzzling how their people can be living in squallor and have poor drinking water while receiving all that money. Where does it go?!

  3. D says:

    @ Pinhey, All of the poor drinking water you said? I forgot the water has since improved since european contact…

  4. Don Cloud says:

    Looking at Mr Stewart’s lack of good grammar is a good indication of why his response is so poor.

    Perhaps, if the First Nations were allowed to reap the rewards their unceded lands provide the governments through natural resources, they wouldn’t be thrust into the world spotlight because of the living conditions they must endure. Multinational companies make millions off of land Canada has never acquired from First Nations owners.

  5. Jen says:

    It’s puzzling how their people can be living in squallor and have poor drinking water while receiving all that money. Where does it go?!

    Puzzling indeed Jeffery P. Yet the media makes no attempt to investigate.
    Imo, I think that the chiefs who pockets the money want to keep their people in that conditions so that they can continue taking money from us.

    Mind you there are numerous of First Nations like the: Osoyoos band, the Sarcee band and few others that have become prosperous on their own right like: camp grounds, winery, casinos and much more.

    Also, this government has done a lot for the aboriginals than the previous governments which again, the media refuses to acknowledge.

  6. frustrated canadian says:

    there is 1,173,000 indians in Canada 3.8% of our population of 34.5 million people. Why are we canadians allowing that 3.8 % who in fact get 14 billion of our tax dollars a tear try to run our country.

  7. Enough already says:

    The reserve near me handed out 10 grand cheques to every man women and child a few weeks before Christmas. These same men and women also signed up for free Christmas Hampers from the Salvation Army one week after they got their cheques. (Example: 2 adult family with two kids got 40 grand)

    They took food and toys right our of the hands of the truely needy. Nothing anyone says could make me to believe these individuals needed the hampers. Now that is greed.

  8. ConservaCanuk says:

    For the weak of mind that believe that there will be a constant hostage-taking, er “Negotiation” on every law are living in a dream-world.
    The disruptions will be tolerated briefly, then forcible removal will be put in place.
    Now is the time for a total re-think on accountability of all the bands, and the perpetual destruction of the next generation from the current one’s selfishness when it comes to addiction and neglect must end now.
    You have no-one to blame for the last 40 years of mindless self-indulgence, go get off your backsides and create a safe and healthy environment for your next generation. You owe that much to them.

  9. Whitemanleft says:

    You white people have no idea what goes on on reserves. Until you have lived and experienced what we’ve been through you should not have an opinion. Without First Nation communities Canada would not be what it is today. Treaty rights of aboriginal people were intstumental in the creation of the consitution and the charter of rights and freedoms. I would like to know how all of you would react if your Charter Rights were ignored in one of Harpers Bills.

  10. Ron says:

    Past racist paternalistic governments have taken so much, and have not given back since confederation… the economic base on many reserves has never been there and is still not there, especially the isolated ones such as Attawapiskat… it has only been since 1960 that First Nations people have been considered “Canadian”, legislation in the Indian Act forbade any person from establishing an economy on reserve … it forbade Indians from being able to vote federally, it forbade hiring of lawyers for land claims.. it forced an Indian to automatically lose his rights if they graduated as a priest, doctor or lawyer…. It’s the only legislation in the world that governs a people, it even defines what type of Indian one is…. WAKE UP CANADA… DO YOUR HOMEWORK…. there is much more…. KNOW THE REAL HISTORY OF CANADA..;..

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