WINNIPEG – AANDC Bullying Concerns First Nations Leaders. Manitoba First Nations Chiefs say that bullying, harassment and intimidation are being used by the Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development bureaucrats. First Nations leadership across Canada have been forced to review and sign AANDC’s 2013/2014 annual financial agreements with less than adequate time and opportunity to review the arrangements.
First Nations Chiefs call down federal bullying
[sws_pullquote_right]Manitoba Chiefs: For the many First Nations communities with little or no other economies to circulate revenues in the community, this threat is tantamount to the complete collapse of community finances. [/sws_pullquote_right] The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs charge, “Often times the constraints on time are one week or less. When questioned on the inadequacy of the funding to provide for basic human services, frontline bureaucrats at AANDC state that they are powerless in addressing issues raised by the communities but still demand signatures from leadership or face a shutdown of community funding”.
The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs are stepping up and speaking out today against the harassment, bullying and intimidation tactic being used by the Department of Aboriginal and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) in continuing a funding relationship that maintains extreme poverty and fails to provide for the basic human needs and rights of First Nations people. Manitoba First Nations communities are once again being forced to sign and operate prescribed and inadequate contribution agreements and accept legislation that is detrimental to a treaty-based relationship.
In recent correspondence between AANDC and the community of God’s Lake First Nation, AANDC demanded under threat of discontinuing of funding, a rescission of a letter requesting basic clarification on terms of the funding arrangement. The letter, dated February 27, 2013, from Chief Gilbert Andrews, agreed to a conditional acceptance of the agreement on the basis that the funding was no less than the previous year and also reserved the right to seek clarification and discussion on future funding arrangements, including discussions of an index arrangement to offset the effects of inflation.
AANDC bureaucrats responded to the letter from Chief Andrews as a suggestion that he was signing under “implied duress” and demanded he rescind his request or risk having funding discontinued to the community. Signing a funding agreement under implied or expressed conditions of ‘duress’ could apparently make the funding arrangements for less than basis human services null and void in Canada law according to Justice Canada advice.
“In light of no commitment from Canada to work with us to realize the treaties in the nation to nation, treaty territory by treaty territory process envisioned by our mutual ancestors, the Crown holds a duty to mimic the honour and integrity we taught them by helping them to survive and eventually flourish in our ancestral lands. The lack of respect this government shows in instructing their bureaucrats demonstrates that institutionally and at the highest levels of this government they have forgotten who the First Nations people are and the role we have played in establishing the Canadian identity that they enjoy today”, stated Grand Chief Derek Nepinak.
“We as God’s Lake Narrow Chief and Council do not agree with the process that took place for us to sign the 2013/2014 Contribution Agreement and the legal obligations we were forced to accept. We would like to know what exactly these legal obligations are. My Council and I felt that we had no choice but to sign the CFA before the March 5, 2013 deadline otherwise we would not have had funds for our community in April. We are trying to protect our community and Aboriginal and Northern Development Canada’s tactics are not in the best interest for our people”, said Chief Gilbert Andrews.
The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs will support the God’s Lake First Nation and any other First Nation in Manitoba that takes the position that they have been forced to sign their 2013/2014 funding agreement ‘under duress’.