Labour supports First Nations' call to respect nature as well as treaties.
from CUPW president Dennis Lemelin, with video featuring David Bleakney
Dear Mr Harper:
On behalf of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers I am writing to demand that you demonstrate more respect, on behalf of Canadians, in addressing the many problems that have been raised by Indigenous leaders and their communities.
Most recently, Chief Spence, from Attawapiskat has chosen the extreme and brave measure of conducting a hunger strike against the ongoing disrespect directed against First Nations peoples that obscures and denies their inherent rights. Respect for indigenous peoples requires much more than words and apologies. They involve actions that reflect respect and a dignified approach. If you are to speak on behalf of Canadians then you must take into account the historical and ongoing destruction of Indigenous territories and culture which your government regrettably increased.
I am referring to the following:
Bill C-27: First Nations Financial Transparency Act
Bill C-45: Jobs and Growth Act, 2012 [Omnibus Bill includes Indian Act amendments regarding voting on-reserve lands surrenders/designations]
Bill S-2: Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act
Bill S-6: First Nations Elections Act
Bill S-8: Safe Drinking Water for First Nations
Bill C-428: Indian Act Amendment and Replacement Act
Bill S-207: An Act to amend the Interpretation Act
Bill S-212: First Nations Self-Government Recognition Bill
Passing these bills without consultation is a gross violation of any form of relationship of consent that First Nations peoples deserve. Bill C-45 specifically affects the Indian Act, First Nations sovereignty and their rights in their lands and yet they were left out of the discussion.
The small amount of information presented to the public regarding legislation being pushed through parliament, affecting such a great number of people who have treaties to be honoured, is shameful given the lack of due consultation and consent from First Nations and their leadership. Treaties were signed on a nation-to-nation basis, and cannot be changed by one government’s whim through unilateral legislation.
Your government ushered in the era of Truth & Reconciliation. This cannot happen if you continue to undermine First Nations peoples’ by pushing the same paternalistic and assimilative tactics the forefathers of this country wholeheartedly practiced but we today know to be archaic and void of humanity.
You have a choice to introduce Canada to the world as a frontrunner in government-indigenous peoples’ relations and consultation, or to continue on the path of disrespect. You can start today by suspending the above-mentioned bills, and ceasing the introduction of new versions of these bills until proper consultation has been initiated.
We place our support for change of Canada’s Land Claims and Self-Government Policies to “recognize and affirm” the Inherent, Aboriginal and Treaty Rights of First Nations, including respect and implementation of the Historic Treaties.
We call on reforming Canada’s Comprehensive Claims and Self-Government policies to be consistent with the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People in that it recognizes the Rights of Self-Determination, Land Rights and Free, Prior Informed Consent.
Please do the right thing by actively acknowledging these historical wrongs.