Toronto, ON (Nov 29, 2016) --- “Today’s report by Auditor General Michael Ferguson is just another sad confirmation that First Nation peoples are being held hostage by a broken bureaucracy – fueled by a lack of political will - that only serves to perpetuate poverty and despair,” said Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day. “The number one recommendation of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) – released 20 years ago this month – was to ensure that First Nations had a sufficient land and resource base in order to fully participate in the Canadian economy.”
RCAP specifically recommended that: “Federal, provincial and territorial governments, through negotiation, provide Indigenous nations with lands that are sufficient in size and quality to foster Indigenous economic self-reliance and cultural and political autonomy. The 2007 Ipperwash Report recommended the establishment of a Treaty Commission of Ontario that would “facilitate and oversee the settling of land and treaty claims in Ontario” with the full co-operation of the federal government.
“The Indian Act has effectively eradicated the true intent and obligations of the original Treaties,” said Regional Chief Day. “In fact, Ipperwash called for a ceremony similar to the 1764 Treaty of Niagara in formally establishing the Treaty Commission of Ontario. Several months ago, federal government lawyers stated they had no knowledge of the Treaty of Niagara during the current Chippewas of the Thames court appeal against the expansion of Enbridge Line 9. Going to court to fight for our Treaty rights, or to fight for proper funding for our children, is not the Canada our ancestors envisioned.
“Instead of being able to build self-reliant economies that would strengthen and celebrate our cultures and traditions, far too many of our Peoples in Ontario and across Canada, have been trapped in an endless cycle of bureaucratic red tape and an Ottawa-centric welfare state system,” said Regional Chief Day. “We have now wasted 20 years over a broken land claim process. We have lost a generation of our children to suicide and poor health, and far too many who become missing, murdered, and incarcerated.
“The cumulative loss of economic opportunities due to this gross federal neglect is no doubt in the billions; just in the last 20yrs. The result of this is abject, grinding and unacceptable poverty. This revelation by Canada's auditor general, shows that the Crown’s Treaties with First Nations are broken; in fact, this also begs the obvious question: is Canada's claim it is a Nation bonafide or nullified by broken treaties in this country?
“First Nations are not lines in a federal budget that can be set aside until 2020. We must end the misguided policy of fiscal control and constraint that endangers the lives of our Peoples. We must act now to invest in the future of our children. Not only does Canada need to act upon the recommendations made by RCAP, Ipperwash, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, but there must be sufficient resources in place to ensure that the federal, provincial and territorial bureaucracies are able to effectively engage with First Nations.
True reconciliation means the political rhetoric and broken promises must finally end. Once we have secured our lands and resources, we will finally be able to control our economic destinies. Our communities and our leaders are committed to ensuring substantive changes are made on these critical issues, we are waiting for government officials to take their seats at the table as full partners, and in the spirit and intent of the Treaties that helped create Canada.”