THUNDER BAY – Grand Council Chief Madahbee of the Anishinabek Nation has written the Prime Minister expressing conscern over a lack of consultation between the federal government and First Nations.
Here is a copy of the letter sent on November 21st 2012:
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2
Dear Prime Minister Harper:
Over the past couple of years it has become increasingly apparent to the Anishinabek First Nations that the federal government is on a path to dissolving First Nation treaty and inherent rights through infringing legislation. We have received copies of several letters from First Nation organizations like the Assembly of First Nations, the Chiefs of Ontario and other political organizations across the country, opposing federal legislation that impacts First Nations. At the Anishinabek Nation we have sent numerous letters and presented our reasons for objection to the various federal standing committees on legislation that the Government of Canada seems determined to ram through parliament.
During the Harmonized Sales Tax legislation process, First Nations in Ontario unified to oppose the federal and provincial objective to combine taxation policies and eliminate the provincial retail sales tax exemptions for First Nation citizens. The very next year the federal Ministry of Revenue began taking First Nation, working-class citizens to court on income tax policies, despite their treaty right not to be taxed within their own territories. Nearly every legislation or policy impacting First Nations which the federal government has introduced over the past couple of years will either eliminate First Nation treaty rights or minimize the Crown’s treaty and fiduciary responsibilities to First Nations in Canada. I cannot make myself any more clear: all lands and resources in Canada belong to First Nations’ people and no amount of legislation will take that fact away.
Some of the Bills we oppose include: Bill S-2 (Matrimonial Real Property), Bill S-6 (First Nations Election Act), Bill C-10 (Crimes Bill), Bill S-8 (Safe Drinking Water), Bill C-27 (Financial Transparency Act), Bill C-45 (Jobs and Growth Act, specifically sections amending the Indian Act and Fisheries), and Bill C-428 (Private Member’s Bill, specifically to amend the Indian Act). I wish to put it on record again that the Anishinabek First Nations oppose, reject and dismiss each and every bill that encroaches on First Nations’ treaty and inherent rights. Making sweeping changes that will impact First Nations (through legislation) without inclusion of First Nations in the development of these bills is contrary to a Nation-to-Nation relationship. The resolve of our citizens will be known across the country and we will bring national attention to the colonial approach Canada continues to push for in relation to First Nation territories and First Nation citizens’ rights.
First Nations have a unique legal and historical relationship with Canada as established through treaties and alliances during times of war and peace. We have remained a loyal ally over many decades, only to watch our children get siphoned into residential schools and our land exploited for the betterment of Canada and to the detriment of First Nations. As the Grand Council Chief of the Anishinabek Nation I have limited authority as mandated by our leadership. However I am in a position to remind Canada that First Nations will not sit quietly while funding to education is frozen, funding to health is cut, and land claims are held hostage to surrender clauses while mining companies are fast- tracked to exploit our lands in order to keep Canada listed as one of the wealthiest countries in the world.
First Nations socio-economic indicators continue to represent human rights issues comparable to those of many oppressed populations throughout the world. I cannot, nor would I ever attempt to, control or stop First Nation citizens if they ever decide to have their voices heard in a free and democratic society.
The reputation of Canada is darkened by First Nation realities in Canada. Let us work together to make Canada a better country by engaging in meaningful dialogue that does not include a hidden agenda to assimilate and municipalize First Nations through oppressive legislation and policies.
Patrick Wedaseh Madahbee
Grand Council Chief
Cc Governor General of Canada
Minister John Duncan, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
Federal opposition party leaders
Government of Ontario
Minister Chris Bentley, Aboriginal Affairs Ontario
Anishinabek Nation Chiefs and Councilors
All First Nation Political Territorial Organizations in Canada