Affirming the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – A Matter of Great Concern in this Election

The MLPC Calls for Nation-to-Nation Relations

October 4 Sisters in Spirit Vigils CALENDAR OF EVENTS

The battles being waged by Indigenous peoples in Canada for their rights have put front and centre in this election the urgent need for nation-to-nation relations on a modern basis between Canada and the Indigenous peoples. Establishing nation-to-nation relations opens the door to end the crimes being committed against Indigenous peoples by Canada and for reconciliation between Canada and the Indigenous peoples.

The MLPC calls for an end to colonial injustice and a free and equal union between the Indigenous nations, Canada and Quebec. Canadians, Quebeckers and Indigenous peoples together fighting for their rights and the rights of all and establishing a modern constitution and political process will provide these rights, including the rights of Indigenous nations with a guarantee.

In the nine years of the Harper Government, the battles waged by Indigenous peoples have put the need for nation-to-nation relations squarely on the agenda. The Harper Conservatives have shown themselves to be beyond the pale with the racist and colonial laws passed to curb and extinguish the hereditary, constitutional and treaty rights of Indigenous peoples. These include Bill C-27, the First Nations Financial Transparency Act and Bill C-45, the Jobs and Growth Act, an omnibus bill with provisions to terminate collective land title on reserve lands, weaken environmental protections that affect Indigenous communities and other equally odious measures. The Harper majority in Parliament adopted Bill C 51, the Anti-Terrorism Act 2015 aiming to criminalize Indigenous peoples and the Canadian and Quebec people who fight for rights.

Indigenous peoples affirming their right to decide over energy developments on their land outside a hearing on the Enbridge pipeline in Vancouver, October 2.

The Harper Conservatives have gone so far as to label as “threats to national security” and worse, the opposition of the Indigenous people to the violation of their hereditary, constitutional rights and the theft of their lands and resources by private monopolies. The violation of rights by the Harperites and all previous Canadian government has created a serious crisis. This colonial injustice throws Indigenous peoples into dire poverty, takes their children, jails them, attacks them by force of arms and despoils their lands. The refusal to recognize the rights of Indigenous peoples shows that the current political arrangements based on the 19th century British colonial values and U.S. imperialist values — which the ruling elite call “Canadian values” – is the source of the crisis vis-a-vis Canada’s relations with Indigenous peoples. It cannot go on!

The spirit of the free and equal union which must come into being is independence, peaceful relations, and non-interference in each others’ affairs. The Indigenous peoples also have the right to a say over all the affairs of Canada due to the historical and present debt of colonialism and Canada’s presence on all their ancestral lands. Today many First Nations uphold the Two-Row Wampum Belt which codified relations between First Nations as independent nations and the Crown. The defence of hereditary, constitutional and treaty rights affirms that the relations between Canada and the Indigenous peoples must be ones of mutual respect.

Demands for a National Inquiry Into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

Banner outside Party leaders debate in Toronto, September 28, 2015.

The number of missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls continues to rise. In early August, in one week alone, Bridget Tolley, a First Nations activist from Kitizan-Zibi in northwestern Quebec who runs Families of Sisters in Spirit, an organization that supports families of Canada’s missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls, received five calls from across Canada reporting the disappearance of five aboriginal girls, the oldest being 18.

The Harper government has categorically refused to take any action while in office on this issue despite the widespread demand from Indigenous peoples and Canadians that it do so, including the demand for a national inquiry into this crisis. This demand has become more vocal in the face of statistics presented by the RCMP in 2014 that between 1980 and 2014 more than 1200 aboriginal women and girls have gone missing or have been murdered.

In the year-end interview on the CBC in December 2014, when asked if the government will call an inquiry into the issue of missing and murdered women, Harper stated: “Um it, it isn’t really high on our radar, to be honest … ” Minister of Aboriginal Affairs Bernard Valcourt was denounced across the country in March this year when he stated in a meeting with First Nations chiefs in Calgary “that up to 70 per cent of the murdered and missing indigenous women stems from their own communities.” For these outrageous responses to this crisis alone the Harper Conservatives should be defeated in the October 19 elections.

While the NDP and the Liberals have promised an inquiry if they are elected, which is positive, an inquiry alone without addressing the root causes of the problem will not be acceptable. As Cree lawyer Tanya Kappo from Edmonton pointed out in 2014, the “Indian Act, the residential schools system, child welfare, thefts of aboriginal lands, theft of children, theft of identify, theft of existence, genocide by legislation” have resulted in “indigenous women and girls who suffer the brunt of this — going missing and being murdered in epidemic proportions in neighbourhoods, streets and highways in every part of this country.”

This brings to the fore the need for Indigenous peoples to join with Canadians and Quebeckers to renew the constitutional and political arrangements in Canada which currently reflect 19th century colonial values that render colonial justice to Aboriginal peoples. This must end. Without the fundamental law of the land recognizing and guaranteeing the treaty and hereditary rights of Indigenous peoples as sovereign nations with the inherent right to self-determination, the condition that causes Aboriginal women and girls to be victimized by violence will remain. This does not serve the Canadian and Quebec people’s interests either. There cannot be true reconciliation between Indigenous people and the Canadian and Quebec people or the possibility of Canada turning the page on centuries of oppression and violence against Indigenous peoples as long as this remains the case. This is what’s at stake.

(With files from the Montreal Gazette, CBC News)

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One response to “Affirming the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – A Matter of Great Concern in this Election

  1. Pingback: Affirming the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – A Matter of Great Concern in this Election | First Nations Blog

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