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Splatsin First Nation takes a stand
First Nations are challenging federal government policies.
Members of the Splatsin First Nation rallied in Enderby Thursday to protest Ottawa’s financial transparency act and environmental assessment legislation.
“There’s a $10 billion operation (Department of Indian Affairs) and all it does is puts us down. It doesn’t do anything for us,” said Chief Wayne Christian.
In terms of Bill C-45, there are concerns that it reverses laws that protect the environment.
“It infringes on our rights and terms of consultation,” said Christian.
“It changes environmental protection assessment and impacts our traditional territories from coast to coast.”
The Shuswap Nation Tribal Council, which includes the Splatsin, is calling on the federal government to meet directly to discuss the issues.
“Solutions are attainable if Canada is prepared to listen before acting,” said Chief Shane Gottfriedson, with the SNTC.
There have been a number of First Nations protests across the country focused on the government,
Among them is a hunger strike by Theresa Spence, chief of the Attawapiskat First Nation in Ontario, who is raising awareness about living conditions among aboriginal Canadians.
Christian believes Spence is an inspiration for First Nations people.
“We want to support her and what she is doing,” he said.
“Our rights are human rights in the international community. We can’t live without the land, whether it is fish, wildlife or natural resources.”
Colin Mayes, Okanagan-Shuswap MP, defends the steps being taken by the federal government.
“I believe our government has taken action on many fronts including aboriginal housing,” he said.
“We’ve builts 33 new schools on First Nations land. We want to sit down and see how we can better deliver education.
“I was at the opening of the Splatsin health centre and they were complimentary of our government.”
Mayes insists Ottawa is not abandoning its environmental responsibility with new legislation.
“There are no compromises on environmental protection. It has simply streamlined it so there is a better (application) timeline than there was before,” he said.