Ontario Regional Chief Cautious But Welcoming
THUNDER BAY – Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy says he is hopeful with the new and continued funding promised in yesterday’s federal budget but recognizes that basic essential dollars for First Nation capital infrastructure was not identified and questions Canada’s attack on First Nation businesses.
“Of course we welcome the funds for education and fighting prescription drug abuse but if Canada wants to build a ‘world-class infrastructure’ as they envision, they must start with basic essentials like housing, water and building a solid infrastructure in our communities,” stated Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy.
Devastating Cuts Undermining First Nation Organizations
The Regional Chief commented in a media statement, “The Harper government objective to eliminate the deficit next year with this budget is just in time for an expected trip to the polls but Regional Chief Beardy questions that while the national budget levels off, the devastating multi-million dollar funding cuts to First Nation organizations will undermine the capacity of First Nation organizations and dismantle the collective voices of First Nations.
“I am concerned about the RCMP tobacco funding of $91.7 million to combat First Nation economic efforts. On one hand we have massive cutbacks to First Nation programs and services making private business even more vital to our survival and they focus attack on our businesses which are only exercising our constitutionally recognized aboriginal and treaty rights of self-determination and self–sufficiency,” Regional Chief Beardy said.
Concerns Over Political Nature of Budget
Ontario Regional Chief Beardy termed the budget a political document with little to address the essential challenges confronting First Nations like infrastructure and building a solid First Nation economy. “This approach of devastating cuts to our organizations and denying our rights to free enterprise fails to respect and uphold Indigenous rights and recognize and support the priorities of our Indigenous communities,” Regional Chief Beardy said.
Under Treaty, First Nations are equal partners and are to derive real benefits from resource and economic development projects within our traditional homelands which the federal government continues to ignore and deny this fundamental issue. “It is a top priority for First Nations across Ontario that we will continue to assert our rights and push for an equal partnership,” Regional Chief Beardy said. “We will not continue to live in poverty while billions pour into government coffers for a balanced budget from development on our traditional homelands and we are left without basic necessities and denied our right to self-sufficiency.”