THUNDER BAY – Heading into next week’s meeting in Ottawa with the Conservative Government, Fort William First Nation Chief Peter Collins says, “Canada forces First Nations to accept lower standards of living.” Chief Collins also serves as Northern Superior Regional Chief for the Anishinabek Nation.
Chief Collins hopes this is an issue that will be dealt with at the Jan. 24 Crown-First Nations Gathering in Ottawa. “First Nations are forced to deal with lower standards for their citizens in housing and health care because of funding arrangements imposed on our populations for decades. We are concerned that cuts to funding in these areas are likely and will lead to crisis situations in many of our communities. Housing and health care services are paramount to the basic survival of our people and should be a shared priority for all concerned as we try to move forward, strengthening our citizens, communities and nation.
Chief Collins, whose community recently concluded a 160-year-old land claim, also hopes the summit of First Nations Chiefs and Prime Minister Stephen Harper will make a commitment to streamline the existing land claims policy and procedures. “First Nations, through land claims, are attempting to correct some of the wrongs that have been inflicted upon our citizens by Canada and Ontario not holding to the true agreements of our treaties and inherent rights,” says Chief Collins.
“Yet, even with the processes and strides that we are making in bringing forth and settling claims, the processes are long and costly, directed by Canada and decided upon by the very government who broke the pacts. It is our position that First Nations should have stronger positions and control mechanisms in these processes in order to fairly and reasonably solve these issues as Nations,” concluded Chief Collins.