Toronto, ON (August 7, 2013) August 9th marks the commemoration of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. This International Day was first proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in December 1994 to recognize the estimated 370 million Indigenous people in some 90 countries around the world.
The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples indicates that the focus of this years’ International Day is the importance of honouring treaties between states and the principles of friendship, cooperation and peace. In Canada and across what is now known as Ontario, Indigenous Nations entered into numerous treaties with the newcomers to these lands which remain as relevant today as the day they were created. "The treaties granted access to newcomers to our lands and we agreed to share the lands and resources for all to benefit," stated Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy. "Today our nations continue to push for the full implementation and enforcement of these treaties."
Regional Chief Beardy indicated that Indigenous nations continue to honour their treaty obligations but that the federal government has failed to honour theirs. "The federal government has always unilaterally interpreted the treaties in their favour and to our detriment. Our nations have not benefitted from the treaties as originally intended and we have had to deal with the imposition of the Indian Act and restrictive and inadequate funding arrangements which have impoverished our nations," stated the Regional Chief. However Regional Chief Beardy indicates that First Nations in Ontario will no longer accept the treatment from government that has resulted in First Nations suffering the poorest health and social outcomes of any group in Canada. He further indicated that the First Nations in Ontario expect the federal government to honour their lawful obligations and that recent funding cuts to organizations that provide direct support and advocacy to First Nations cannot be justified in the face of continued government waste.
The Regional Chief points to the April 2013 federal Auditor General Report that confirmed that the federal government is unable to account for $3.1 billion targeted for anti-terrorism activities or the approximately $14 billion in revenue per year that the government gave up in order to cut two percentage points from the Goods and Services Tax as part of a campaign pledge in 2006. "It is clear that this government is driven by ideology and operates in constant campaign mode not thinking of the long term consequences that their short sighted decision-making will have on the daily lives of people in this country," stated the Regional Chief.
The Regional Chief affirms that treaty implementation and enforcement remains a key priority for the First Nations in Ontario. "We will not be deterred by unjust and unilateral actions taken by the federal government; we will continue to push for respect for the treaties and to right this historic injustice in order to realize a brighter future for our children and those generations yet to come," said Regional Chief Beardy.
The Chiefs of Ontario is a political forum, and a secretariat for collective decision making, action, and advocacy for the 133 First Nation communities located within the boundaries of the province of Ontario, Canada.
For more information, please contact:
Media and Public Relations Officer,
Categorised in: International