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Editorials and Press Releases


COAST SALISH TERRITORY, BC, Nov. 12 /CNW/ – BC Assembly of First Nations (BCAFN) Regional Chief Jody Wilson-Raybould welcomed Canada’s endorsement of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).  “The UNDRIP sets out international standards that are fundamental to ensuring the survival of our Nations and peoples,” the Regional Chief stated. “We are pleased Canada has endorsed the Declaration and look forward to continuing to ensure its principles are reflected in Canadian law and policy as First Nations re-build our Nations within Canada.”

Regional Chief Wilson-Raybould recognizes that this endorsement is just the beginning and continues, “While endorsement of the Declaration is very important, the real work is translating these hard fought-for rights into practical benefits on the ground in our communities.  We must collectively ensure that our communities have the resources and the tools they need so that they can prosper with our peoples enjoying an improved standard of living with practicing and thriving cultures.”

The Regional Chief of the BC Assembly of First Nations is elected by the 203 First Nations Chiefs in British Columbia. The Assembly of First Nations is the national political organization representing First Nations across Canada.

SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. – For the first time in more than a decade, Garden River First Nation will take over a highway Monday, slowing traffic to highlight what it calls the federal government’s neglect of its financial obligations to First Nations education.

Chief Lyle Sayers said the demonstration on Hwy. 17 in northern Ontario is a last resort to turn the attention of Canadians and the government to what he calls a woefully overlooked issue.

“Nobody knows. The only way to get attention is to go out on the highways. It’s very unfortunate. The last thing we want to do is stand on the highway,” Sayers told QMI Agency.

The “peaceful rally” will coincide with the Anishinabek Grand Council fall assembly. Shawn Atleo, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the gathering.

Native groups have long said a funding shortfall to send their young people to post-secondary schools has kept their people back. As well, for the last 10 years, the government has set a maximum 2% annual increase in the education budget.

Of the variety of issues First Nations have, including resource revenue-sharing, Sayers said education is a building block that determines whether or not people can “make a good living in Canada” and determine their collective future.

“The future of First Nations people is at stake.”

Garden River and Batchewana threatened to disrupt travel and trade through the area last summer over various long-running disputes, including resource revenue-sharing, funding deficiencies and no point-of-sale exemption for the Harmonized Sales Tax. In the end, Batchewana members blockaded the Huron-Central railway for one day in June, but Ottawa expedited the HST point-of-sale exemption and the prospect of Garden River toll booths on the highway faded.

The last major traffic disruption in Garden River was in 1999, in support of a highway bypass that was eventually built and opened in 2008.

‘”We don’t want to upset Canadians who travel the highways, but we also want to make sure they’re aware of what’s going on — and get the attention of the federal government,” he said.

The Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation in Quebec is also planning a slowdown Tuesday on the same issues.

EDMONTON – First Nations communities in the Northwest Territories declared they would take legal action against a federal decision to open ecologically sensitive lands to mineral exploration.

The Dehcho First Nations are upset that the federal government ended protection of the Edéhzhíe (Horn Plateau) lands, an area that had been protected from development since 2002 under an interim agreement between the federal government, the Dehcho First Nations and other partners. The Dehcho consider the agreement a critical step in the negotiations toward resolving a land claim.

Edéhzhíe lies west of Great Slave Lake. It is an undulating plateau rising 400 metres over the surrounding boreal plains and lowlands, says the Canadian Boreal Initiative, a boreal forest conservation group that has joined the First Nations groups in this fight. The group says it is one of the natural jewels in the Mackenzie Valley of the Northwest Territories, an area of cultural and ecological significance for the Dehcho and Tłicho peoples. Wildlife such as caribou and moose are abundant, it has rich wetlands and is a continental bird flyway.

“Canada’s decision is illegal and threatens this important habitat for woodland caribou, leaving the whole area vulnerable to exploration and mining,” said Dehcho Grand Chief Samuel Gargan in a statement. “We won’t allow any staking to occur. Anyone who tries to stake in Edéhzhíe may have his stakes removed and will be seeing us in court. Our constitutional land rights have been abused long enough by the way Canada applies the Canada Mining Regulations.”

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