THUNDER BAY – ANISHINABEK – Chief Isadore Day, Wiindawtegowinini of Serpent River First Nation says that the 2015 Federal Budget announced today by the Harper Conservatives is a deliberate ‘cold shoulder’ and should not go unnoticed by Canadians.
Day says that when the full analysis is done on this budget, First Nations should expect to see no significant investments from Canada. In fact, he says the Federal investments in this budget pay most attention to lands management on reserves. These investments are aimed at controlling lands where First Nations live.
“In a perfect world, managing First Nations lands where there are real investment opportunities to grow, such management regimes would be great – that simply is not the case here. This government keeps conveniently diverting us away from our rightful treaty-based economies on our traditional lands by forcing us to constantly react to its legislative attacks. Canada should be focusing on treaty partnerships with us, and pay forward on issues like a national resource revenue sharing strategy with First Nations,” says Day.
Budget – Disturbing – No Investments in Environmental Protection
Day say it’s disturbing that there are no budget investments on environmental protection and says that First Nations fear the implications of not spending on safeguards for the environment saying that the Harper governments budget overlooks protecting human health in the long-run. “Environment and human health is a government responsibility; this is where the Harper government is failing all Canadians badly,” says Chief Day.
No Investment in Food Price Support for Northern Ontario
The Federal government is also drawing criticism for avoiding investment where it’s most needed, such as First Nations in Northern Ontario where the cost of food is at an increased average of 400-600%, as compared to urban and rural parts of the province. “It’s a shame that this government refuses to address the disparities faced by our people in the north. In this country where the Prime Minister boasts about surplus and economic strength, there are third world conditions in our First Nations, – it’s a national shame,” states Chief Day.
Day suggests that measures like ‘equalization’ policies should be explored, where First Nations would be fairly indexed and supported though regional investment where abject poverty is a reality. Day also says that the government has every possible means and fiduciary mandate to stomp out poverty, yet refuses to employ strategic policy efforts.
“Prime Minister, Canada’s so-called ‘opportunities’ for growth are often nothing more than exploitation of lands where there should be equal sharing with First Nations. Sadly, many of our communities pay for national prosperity with deep-seated poverty,” concludes Day.
Isadore Day is a 10-year elected chief in Serpent River First Nation, seeking the Ontario Regional Chief position in June. One of the pillars in his platform is Quality of Life in First Nations. Day believes that First Nation jurisdiction over Aboriginal title, and enforcing treaties will give his people equal participation and an interest in shared economies. He is convinced that some economic development is detrimental to the land and not worth short-term monetary gains. He stands firm when it comes to First Nation environmental jurisdiction and does not support harmful economic growth on ancestral lands.