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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE ONTARIO REGIONAL CHIEF: “A SENSE OF URGENCY” REQUIRED TO ADDRESS POVERTY CONDITIONS IN FIRST NATION POPULATION

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

 

ONTARIO REGIONAL CHIEF:  “A SENSE OF URGENCY” REQUIRED TO ADDRESS POVERTY CONDITIONS IN FIRST NATION POPULATION

 

 

TORONTO, ON, (June 20, 2013) On June 17, 2013, 43 non-First Nation Canadians travelled to Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) First Nation at the invitation of youth from the community. The visitors will live in local homes and will return to Thunder Bay on June 21, which is also Aboriginal Solidarity Day.  The youth of KI wanted ordinary Canadians to learn more about their day to day lives, including the challenges of living in a remote, fly-in First Nation community in order to build a greater understanding between First Nations and Canadians generally.

 

Many First Nation communities in Ontario struggle with a lack of housing, mould problems, no water and sewage, high unemployment, addictions and youth suicide. It is not surprising that a recent report published by the Canadian Centre on Policy Alternatives indicates that poverty rates for First Nations children living on reserve is triple that of non-Indigenous children.  The First Nations population continues to increase at a rate faster than that of the general population yet funding levels have been capped at 2% per year since 1996.

 

“Aboriginal Solidarity Day is an opportunity to celebrate Aboriginal culture and the richness that First Nation, Métis and Inuit people add to the fabric of Canadian society.  It is also an opportunity for all Canadians to tell their government representatives that we all need to work together in a true spirit of collaboration to address these challenges and break the status quo that keeps so many First Nation people mired in poverty,” stated Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy.

 

The Regional Chief indicates that the federal government is failing to work with First Nations to address the challenges that exist.  “The federal government is unwilling to work with First Nations leadership in Ontario,” said Regional Chief Beardy.  “This government is focused on their own agenda and passing legislation that meets their needs and limits their liabilities. They simply do not care about making the fundamental changes that will result in tangible improvements to the daily lives of our people.” The Regional Chief stated that all Canadians should be asking their government to account for why First Nations are continually expected to do more with less and that accountability is a two way street.  He points to the size of the Aboriginal Affairs bureaucracy in Ottawa which has ballooned in size to over 5000 employees nationally. 

 

Regional Chief Beardy emphasized the commitment of First Nation leadership to continue to press the government to work together to address the priorities and challenges confronting First Nations. He also pointed out that the First Nations in Ontario are building stronger ties with international bodies in an effort to promote and protect their rights and to ensure the federal government abides by international human rights declarations to which they are signatories.

 

 

 

 

 

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“This government is failing to adhere to the international commitments they have made to ensure a safe and healthy standard of living for all.  We also have treaties with the Crown that have been ignored and minimized for so long. Our people are not going to sit back anymore and hope for the best. We’re going to take action and exercise governance over our nations and ownership of our territories,” stated the Regional Chief. 

 

The 133 First Nations in Ontario will convene next week in Little Current, Manitoulin Island, at their 39th Annual All Ontario Chiefs Conference.  The Regional Chief indicated that First Nations leaders will discuss many priority issues including treaties, the proposed First Nations Education Act, health, environment and recent federal government funding cuts.

 

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.

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