Call For Unity Amongst First Nations

The Whitehorse Daily Star reported in it’s July 19, 2013 edition, that there is division amongst the First Nations.  The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) met in Whitehorse, while at the same time a group of chiefs met in Saskatchewan looking for an alternative to the AFN.

AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo stated, “As I said at the outset, unity does not mean that we must walk the exact same path but that given our diversity we can find a way to move forward together towards a common destination, one where we all live and act on our rights, our title, and our treaties, where our children and families live in safe and secure communities.”

To read all the details, visit the Whitehorse Daily Star.

2013 Federal Budget: Funding For Aboriginal Programs

The Conservative federal budget has a lot in it, but of significance to our aboriginal people is funding for aboriginal programs, and the discussion of Bill S-2, the First Nations Matrimonial Real Property Rights Bill.

“The bill would finally provide the legal protections for the women on reserve that they have lacked for far too long. This discrimination should not exist. That is why aboriginal people and even the Manitoba NDP have been calling for the passage of Bill S-2. I would hope that the federal NDP would heed that call and allow a vote to take place, giving aboriginal women rights regarding matrimonial property,” said Government House Leader Peter Van Loan (York-Simcoe, Ont.). 

“The government also invested in several areas for aboriginal peoples in the 2013 budget, including:

  • $241-million over five years for the Income Assistance Program for First Nations;
  • $155-million over 10 years for infrastructure;
  • $54-million to settle specific claims;
  • $9-million over two years for the First Nations Land Management Regime;
  • $33-million over two years for the First Nations Policing program;
  • $11-million for an Aboriginal Justice Strategy;
  • $24-million over two years for the Family Violence Prevention Program;
  • $48-million over two years to address health care on reserves;
  • $4-million over two years to address mental health;
  •  $10-million over two years to provide scholarships and bursaries for First Nations;
  • $5-million over five years for Cape Breton University’s aboriginal business studies program, and
  • $100-million to improve housing in Nunavut.”

“The government also committed to “consulting with First Nations” on a First Nations Education Act.”  To read the entire article, go to the Hill Times Online.

Devolution Poll: The Most Telling Finding

Yellowknife, April 16, 2013 – The most telling point in the recent devolution poll went by largely unnoticed. Nearly 7 in 10 respondents are either in favour of the agreement or not opposed to the agreement, while fewer than 2 in 10 say it’s a bad deal.

“Nothing’s ever going to perfect in the political arena, but when only 2 in 10 territorial residents feel it’s a bad deal, we don’t think a plebiscite is a worthwhile investment,” says Kathy Gray, President of the NWT Chamber of Commerce.

The poll conducted in early March, 2013 by Ekos Research Associates interviewed 400 NWT adults and also found that 73 percent of respondents say they want a public voted on the devolution agreement.

“It’s all about the context of the question,” says Gray. “For example, ask people if they want to pay more taxes and the answer will be no. But if the next question is whether they want more health care services the answer will be yes. You can’t have one without the other. All that the
73% finding represents is support for a democratic principle. Ask respondents if they want to abandon the devolution agreement and the result would be much different.”

The second most important issue coming out of the poll is the economy and the need for jobs.  “Devolution delivers on both counts and empowers our territorial government to deal with issues of concern identified by poll respondents,” says Gray.

Direct economic benefits include:
 New GNWT revenues (up to $100M by 2020) = money for infrastructure and jobs growth;
 $26.5M for transition activities = job and business opportunities right now;
 $67.3M+ every year for program delivery = ongoing job and business opportunities; and
 New revenues for Aboriginal gov’ts = stronger regions with more investment capacity.

“It’s time to seal the deal,” says Gray, “and rolling back the hands of time isn’t going to move us forward. NWT residents support the devolution agreement and so does the NWT Chamber of Commerce.”

For more information contact:
Mike Bradshaw
Executive Director
NWT Chamber of Commerce
Phone: (867) 920 9505
Fax: (867) 873 4174
Cell: (867) 445 7680

Tlicho Join Devolution

Tlicho Grand Chief Eddie Erasmus said the decision is about ensuring the Tlicho government will be respected after devolution.

“It really requires the GNWT and other Aboriginal organizations to work together in ways they’ve never done before,” he said. “Now this will provide the opportunity for us to build a strong and prosperous Northwest Territories. It will be what we make of it. The Tlicho government is ready to do our part to make the AiP (Agreement in Principle) strengthen our communities.”

Erasmus has an enlightened outlook, and you can read more of what he has to say in Tlicho Join Devolution With Deal ‘Days Away’ published March 5, 2013 in the Northern Journal.

North Slave Métis Take Feds To Court Over Devolution

The North Slave Métis are upset for being left out of the devolution talks.  Although included in the beginning, they were later excluded, and feel that they weren’t consulted.  They feel strongly enough about it to take the federal government to court.

“The response has been negative and recently the minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada informed us that since the North Slave Metis Alliance doesn’t meet the definition of an aboriginal organization in the devolution agreement, there will be no place at the table for the alliance,” said North Slave Metis Alliance president Bill Enge.

“The North Slave Metis Alliance was part of the devolution process starting in 1997 all the way up to 2006, at which time the aboriginal summit – the vehicle for negotiating devolution – disbanded,” said Enge. “From 2006 to the present, the North Slave Metis Alliance has never been approached by either the GNWT or the government of Canada to be a part of the reinvigorated devolution negotiations.”

To read all about it visit CBC News:  North Slave Métis Fight Feds Over Devolution, published March 5, 2013.

RESOURCES: 

Metis Alliance Suing Federal Government, Northern News Service online.