Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Taking a Stand Together for the Good of the People

Last Thursday, I had the opportunity to be included in a meeting in Thunderchild First Nation of Chiefs and First Nation communities to strategize about next steps with regard to Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC). As many of the Chief's spoke, I couldn't help but think about what a crazy situation we are in as First Nations people. Many of these Chiefs were sitting there because they were refusing to sign their next Contribution Funding Agreement (CFA). The response from AANDC is the threat of cutting off funding for the band and forcing them into third party management. Yet many of these bands have produced an unqualified audit, and finances are in order. Imagine sitting there and listening to a chief share what happened to their reserve, when they refused to sign last year, and funds were cut, and people started to get hungry. He warned the others to "store up their food." That statement shocked me. So why does AANDC feel compelled to force their way onto the reserve and manage the affairs of our First Nations?

We have a problem? I believe the basic and most fundamental issue is that the Government of Canada does not understand the treaty. The treaty was signed between the First Peoples of the First Nations and the Crown. The relationship exists between the Queen and the First Peoples of Canada. Yet the federal government believes this relationship exists between themselves and our First Nations. Not true. That is what it has become, but it is not the spirit and intent of the treaties. Somewhere along the way, the Government of Canada has assumed the responsibility and imposed legislation that the world wouldn't tolerate being imposed upon one nation from another. Just look at the outcry with Russia walking into the Crimea and taking it from the Ukraine.

So some of our First Nations are taking a stand and saying that they want to exercise the control that the treaty promised our First Nation people. It is a courageous stand. I honour them for this stand. They will be pressured and manipulated and coerced to sign. Monies will be withheld. People will suffer more than they already are in our communities. We need to stand together.

I had a friend send me a video link, which I've embedded into this post. The speaker is Russ Diabo, a Policy Advisor at Algonquin Nation Secretariat, who is speaking about the Termination Plan. He is well informed and very knowledgeable about the issues. If you really want to understand the treaties and are open-minded, please watch this.

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