THUNDER BAY – Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) is calling for a renewed and meaningful relationship with the government of Canada to better address the needs and challenges of communities in NAN. The call comes as NAN Executive Council and Chiefs prepare to join First Nation leaders across the country for the one-day Crown (Prime Minister)-First Nations gathering taking place on Tuesday January 24, 2012 in Ottawa, ON.
“NAN Chiefs stand united in believing that the issues facing our communities in the far North of Ontario are unique and distinctive to our people,” said NAN Grand Chief Stan Beardy. “The communities in NAN are sovereign nations with the inherent right to govern ourselves spiritually, culturally, socially and economically – we never gave up that right when we made Treaty, and will be looking at the government of Canada to recognize, respect and fulfill its legal obligations and commitments set out in the terms, spirit and intent of our Treaties.”
Among other priorities, during the gathering NAN leadership will focus on:
- the protection and assertion of First Nations rights regarding resource development, access to wealth and capacity building, and land protection related to natural resources;
- the chronic underfunding facing NAN First Nations in the areas such as education, housing, infrastructure, health, and social services;
- the current Third World conditions in NAN First Nations that must be addressed under international human rights laws;
- the high suicide rates and prescription drug abuse epidemic due to the community’s remoteness and the challenges associated with service and delivery.
Leading up to next week’s gathering NAN will participate in strategy sessions both Sunday and Monday in Ottawa. Other planned events on Tuesday include: a rally organized by Chiefs of Ontario at various locations in Ottawa, and videoconferencing for NAN members in Thunder Bay.
NAN is also encouraging First Nations to hold prayer sessions and ceremonies across NAN territory offering support to those participating in the gathering.