Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day says that worsening conditions for First Nations citizens are the result of a cycle of discrimination created by the Indian Act and says that Canadian voters should reject the current conservative policy approaches that perpetuate institutional racism and marginalization of First Nations on election day.
The Chiefs of Ontario’s list of Top 5 Priorities for First Nations in Ontario we want all Canadians to remember on Election Day:
- There is a First Nation Health Crisis in Canada which is a National Epidemic
- Continuing abject poverty that creates systemic issues in First Nations
- Social conditions on First Nations characterized by the highest rates of suicide, addiction, and domestic violence
- Encroachments and exploitation on Treaty and Traditional Lands without the full consent of First Nations
- A colonial-based, top-down relationship with crown governments that is fraught with conflict, confusion and complex policy impacts, often resulting in the marginalization of First Nation governments
“It is simply unacceptable that Indian Status is an indicator of health, poverty, and education in Canada,” Ontario Regional Chief Day said. “First Nations have worse health and educational outcomes, worse housing, and less access to critical services than any other population in Canada. This is entirely due to federal funding practices, policies and discriminatory legislation – some of which has been on the books since 1876.”
Regional Chief Day stated that the current government continues a cycle of discrimination and imposes the politics of race which results in First Nations having the worse prospects than any other group in Canada.
“Ottawa has had its chance to do something, but over the last 10 years the Harper Government has walked away from Indigenous peoples. Instead of ending discrimination, this government clawed back every dollar and program aimed at achieving equity. As a result, there are two tiers of people in Canada: those with opportunity, and those who will always battle the odds because they are indigenous. Race or nationality should never be a factor in Canada, but it sadly is when it comes to health, housing, education or youth opportunities.”
First Nations living on reserve have the lowest standard of living in Ontario. Currently, over 60 First Nations are unable to access clean drinking water. Over half of the First Nations in northern Ontario are unable to afford proper nutrition due to the high cost of food. The suicide rate amongst First Nations youth is five times greater than that of all Canadians.
Two years ago this week, the United Nations warned that Canada will face a “crisis” due to the situations of Indigenous peoples.
“On Election Day, voters should ask themselves if they are prepared to support another generation of discrimination, another generation of youth stuck in poverty, or another decade of lost opportunities,” said Ontario Regional Chief Day. “This is the chance for Canadians to send a loud and clear message that they expect the next government to end the cycle of discrimination and begin to address our priority issues.”