Chiefs of Ontario press release ...
Statement from Ontario Regional Chief Angus Toulouse on National Day of Action
TORONTO, June 29 /CNW/ - The recent events in and around the area of Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, Alderville First Nation, and near Bala, Ontario are a result of the actions of a few individuals and are not reflective of the collective resolve of the First Nations in Ontario. There is no doubt that First Nations have longstanding legitimate grievances that must be addressed now and not ten, twenty or thirty years down the road. The National Day of Action was planned to initiate a peaceful process to raise awareness about these legitimate grievances, and to continue to advocate for the full recognition and respect of First Nations aboriginal and Treaty rights. First Nations leaders are responsible to represent, and speak for their citizens. First Nations leaders have clearly stated that the frustration and despair in our communities is palpable. We cannot stand by and pretend this is not the case. First Nations leaders have done their utmost to bring this situation to light, while advocating peaceful and constructive measures to build momentum and support for genuine, positive action on the part of governments to improve the quality of life for First Nations citizens. This means taking action to move beyond the grinding poverty and the hopelessness that exists now.
We are all responsible to address and improve this situation --- First Nations leaders, Canadians, and Government. One must ask themselves why it takes blockades, or threats of blockades and occupations to force the Government to act. The Oka crisis in 1990 forced some change. For example, the Indian Claims Commission was established following the conclusion of the Oka crisis. Additionally, the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) was created. The 400 or so recommendations from the RCAP have been all but ignored. Now in 2007, with the threat of blockades and further uncertainty once again looming, both levels of government have made positive announcements that First Nations leaders have been advocating for over many years. These announcements include the creation of an independent body to settle land claims, and for more resources to support the settlement of claims in a more expedient manner. Why does it have to come to this for the government to act? Canadians must ask their elected officials this question.
First Nations people believe in resolving differences in a peaceful manner. We remain committed to this principle and implore all First Nations citizens to stand with us in our collective efforts. The First Nation leadership in Ontario appeals for calm, restraint and good judgment on the part of all parties on this National Day of Action. We are appealing to all First Nations citizens to focus on the true message and to not lose sight of it, as this will only serve to detract us from achieving progress and building a strong network of support. We call on the Government of Canada to work with First Nations leadership in a true spirit of partnership, reflective of the Nation to Nation relationship that the sacred Treaties established. First Nations leaders call on both levels of government to move beyond the rhetoric by taking concrete and immediate actions to settle our legitimate grievances. The policies of inaction have consequences, and unfortunately, we are seeing more and more what these consequences can be. This benefits no one, and hurts all of us. Let's finally move beyond the status quo. First Nations leaders in Ontario are certainly willing to move forward in a positive manner for the good of all our citizens.
For further information: Pam Hunter, (905) 683-0322 or Policy Advisor, (613) 720-5539
AFN National Chief Calls National Day of Action an Overwhelming Success and Show of Support for First Nations: "A hundred thousand strong, and a hundred points of hope"
"We are looking for the basic necessities of life that come with being Canadian - clean drinking water, decent housing, education and health care. We are looking for equality of opportunity so we can get good jobs and support ourselves and our families. We are looking to control our own destinies. Improving our lives will not only be good for us. It will be good for Canada."
AFN National Chief Phil Fontaine
Speaking to 3,000 supporters
National Day of Action event on Algonquin territory in Ottawa, Ontario
OTTAWA, June 29 /CNW Telbec/ - Assembly of First Nations National Chief Phil Fontaine stated that today's National Day of Action organized by the Assembly of First Nations was an overwhelming success.
"First Nations and Canadians across the country organized and participated in more than one hundred events," said National Chief Fontaine. "This is one of the largest rallies in Canadian history based on the sheer number of events and the number of locations. Today, the story is not about conflict or confrontation. It is about the overwhelming critical mass of support for justice and fairness for First Nations."
The National Chief took part in the Ottawa event, which attracted approximately 3,000 supporters. The National Chief was joined by political leaders such as Liberal leader Stephan Dion and NDP leader Jack Layton, union leaders, church leaders, First Nations leaders and citizens and many non-Aboriginal Canadians. The Day of Action is also supported by all Premiers and Territorial leaders and many businesses including Canadian Pacific railways.
"I hope the federal government takes note of this massive show of support for our people and our cause," said the National Chief. "This is a Day of Action and clearly Canadians want to see action. First Nations have a plan for progress and prosperity. All we need now is for the federal government to step up and demonstrate the will and the vision to work with us in partnership for a better, stronger Canada."
In his address to the crowd, National Chief Fontaine called for immediate action to address the poor social conditions that afflict too many First Nations. The National Chief called on the federal government to honour its promises to First Nations; to implement the plan agreed to at the First Ministers Meeting on Aboriginal Issues in Kelowna, BC; to apologize to survivors of residential schools; and to work with First Nations to give life to their rights as recognized in Canada's Constitution.
The National Chief noted that all AFN-organized events were peaceful and positive.
"I thank all our supporters for gathering in a spirit of cooperation, and I commend law enforcement officials for their commitment to a measured and non-confrontational approach," said the National Chief.
The National Chief noted that the Day of Action is only the beginning of creating a new era of peace and prosperity for First Nations. The AFN's Annual General Assembly takes place in Halifax, Nova Scotia July 10-12, during which there will be a discussion about the National Day of Action and next steps. As well, the National Chief has been invited to meet with all Premiers and Territorial leaders on August 8 in Moncton, New Brunswick.
"Today is only a beginning, but an excellent start to the work we must do as a nation," said National Chief Fontaine. "If we were to look at Canada from above today, we would see more than a hundred rallies and marches across the land, and thousands and thousands of people showing their support for a better quality of life for First Nations. Each event and each individual represents a point of hope - hope for a better future for First Nations, and hope for a stronger, more united Canada for all Canadians. We see the support for our cause: more than a hundred thousand strong, and a hundred points of hope."
The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations in Canada.
/For further information: Bryan Hendry, A/Director of Communications,
(613) 241-6789, ext. 229, cell (613) 293-6106, firstname.lastname@example.org; Nancy Pine, Communications Advisor - Office of the National Chief, (613) 241-6789, ext 243, (613) 298-6382, email@example.com/
INAC press release ...
Statement by the honourable Jim Prentice, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians regarding the National Day of Action
OTTAWA, June 29 /CNW Telbec/ - The Honourable Jim Prentice, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians issued the following statement today regarding the events that took place around today's National Day of Action.
Today a number of Aboriginal organizations and communities across the country took part in activities relating to the National Day of Action. The express purpose of this day was to raise awareness of the serious issues facing Aboriginal people in this country. The vast majority of Aboriginal people taking part in these activities did so without causing disruptions for Canadians.
Canada's New Government has made real progress in addressing the issues facing Aboriginal people in Canada. We understand that the status quo is not sustainable - that the gaps in health, social and economic conditions must be closed. That is why, along with the provinces and territories, we will continue to work with responsible Aboriginal leaders to bring real improvements to the quality of life of Aboriginal people through improvements in housing, water conditions, education, economic development and accelerating the land claims process. Since taking office, we have focused our efforts on practical, results-oriented action.
I can confidently tell all Aboriginal people in Canada and other Canadians that we will continue to follow through on our commitments. We will measure our performance as we go and we will ensure that our efforts are open, transparent and accountable to all Canadians.
/For further information: Deirdra McCracken, Press Secretary, Office of the Honourable Jim Prentice, (819) 997-0002; This release is also available on the Internet at http://www.inac.gc.ca./