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Chiefs air frustrations
The Harper government’s two recent omnibus bills don’t sit well with local First Nations bands.
At a meeting involving Sexqeltkemc Enterprises Inc., a partnership between the Adams Lake, Neskonlith and Splatsin bands, the chiefs took a moment to comment on the Idle No More movement.
Chief Nelson Leon of the Adams Lake Band said he’s spoken several times at regional Idle No More gatherings.
“I feel it (Idle No More) is a clear indication of frustration in the treatment and consideration of aboriginal interests in this country, specifically Bill 38 and 45, and their implications to our interests in the land, both traditional and cultural, as well as the ongoing need to reconcile our aboriginal rights and title.”
Chief Judy Wilson of the Neskonlith Band said First Nations people are frustrated with the existing B.C. treaty process and comprehensive land claims, and would like fundamental change on a nation-to-nation basis.
“Our people are tired of being impoverished where we have constitutionally held rights that are being legislated away through such bills as C-38 and C-45.”
Chief Wayne Christian of the Splatsin Band says he sees Idle No More as a wake-up call to Canadians.
“The disturbing part is Harper’s unilateral action specifically on the Navigable Waters (Protection Act) removing the word ‘water’ from the act, removing two million lakes and rivers from protection. That’s one thing we as individual people and Canadians have in common is that we all need water.”
He said he sees Idle No More as an opportunity for all Canadians.
“It’s an opportunity to become educated and also to walk along beside us. It’s not just about aboriginal rights and title, and treaty rights, it’s about our human rights to live off our lands. That is recognized internationally in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People and other international covenants.”
Christian said the Idle No More World Day of Action planned for Monday is a signal to the world. He notes that Canada has been an upholder of human rights at the UN for decades, but now the prime minister is attentive to China, which violates human rights.
“It’s not a surprise he’s doing the same thing to us.”