THUNDER BAY – First Nations are reacting to reports that the federal government has been investigating activities on Ontario First Nations. The Chiefs of Ontario state, “Based on documents obtained through Access to Information, activities of First Nations organizations are being monitored for potential threats against security in the form of espionage, sabotage, subversion, terrorism, extremism or criminal activities according to a report in the Globe and Mail. The media report states the documents obtained contain information on “native plans” for a protest blockade of Highway 401, and the possibility of a backlash among “aboriginal groups” over Ontario’s introduction of the harmonized sales tax. The report specifically noted that: “A possibility exists that First Nations extremists opposed to the HST may engage in activities with the potential to impact public safety in Ontario.”
“The intelligence services and authorities in this country should spend more time educating themselves about the rights of First Nations people in this country,” says Ontario Regional Chief Angus Toulouse. The Regional Chief further noted that advocacy by the Chiefs of Ontario and First Nations in Ontario should not be viewed as a threat to national security because the advocacy is based on rights recognized in the Constitution of Canada and in international human rights instruments such as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Convention Against All Forms of Racial Discrimination. “Our relationship does not have to be based in conflict or plagued by fear. That is a fact. Working towards a dialogue and relationship based on our rights, honoring the Treaties and the principle of free, prior and informed consent is the clear alternative to dispute and mistrust. We will continue to pursue this proactive and productive agenda.”
Chiefs of Ontario advocacy includes peaceful, non-violent forms of protest as a method of getting the attention of the decision-makers. In the instance of the HST such advocacy and political action produced results in getting an arrangement on the HST for the benefit of First Nations peoples in Ontario in accordance with their rights.
“Were Canada’s intelligence services deployed when British Columbians conducted their protest rallies and marches and voted to reject the HST in their province? I doubt very much that the British Columbians were deemed as a potential threat to security for rejecting the HST. So it simply goes to show that the Canadian State still actively engages in discriminatory conduct against First Nations peoples. Accountability and transparency requires that the Minister of National Defense be accountable for his Department’s conduct. That’s how the Canadian system works,” said Regional Chief Toulouse.