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Recent events are a bad sign for Harper government's relat ions with First Nations

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    Recent events are a bad sign for Harper government s relations with First Nations By Andy Radia | Canada Politics - 16 hours
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 2, 2013
      Recent events are a bad sign for Harper government's relations with First Nations
      By Andy Radia | Canada Politics - 16 hours agohttp://ca.news.yahoo.com/blogs/canada-politics/recent-events-bad-sign-harper-government-relations-first-212103595.html

      Grand Chief Derek Nepinak of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs talks to reporters in Ottawa, January 18, 2013. REUTERS/Patrick .
      The protests, roadblocks and rallies associated with the Idle No More movement might have subsided but that doesn't mean First Nation leaders are, well, idle.

      The Globe and Mail is reporting that a group of Chief's - including controversial Manitoba Grand Chief Derek Nepinak - is working to create a new National Treaty Alliance independent of the Assembly of First Nations.

      Grand Chief Nepinak, a vocal critic of Chief Atleo's Jan. 11 meeting with the Prime Minister, said he discussed the prospect of a treaty alliance at the [recent] Saskatchewan meeting. "We seem to be spinning our wheels," he told hundreds of delegates.

      He also spoke about asserting aboriginal rights and jurisdiction, tacitly encouraging First Nations people to hunt and fish when they deem appropriate and "without consideration of conservation officers."

      Nepinak, you'll recall, once threatened that the Idle No More movement could cripple Canada's economy.

      Another uproar came recently when the Bill C-27 - a bill forcing first nations chiefs to disclose their salaries - came into law.

      [ Related: Bill forcing First Nations chiefs to disclose salaries becomes law ]

      Last week the Feds pulled, then reinstated, funding for the Onion Lake Cree Nation for refusing to publicize their audited financial statements.

      Chief Wallace Fox called C-27 "state sanctioned blackmail."

      "It's legalized extortion," he told the Star Phoenix.

      "Thirty years ago one of the elders told me, do not ever trust Indian Affairs or the government. They cannot be trusted, and there is always an angle."

      The Harper government was also accused of heavy handedness with regard to their latest budget - Economic Action Plan 2013.

      The usually diplomatic AFN Chief Shawn Atleo told the Globe and Mail that the lack of consultation frustrates First Nations.

      Shawn Atleo, the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, says the big problem with programs like the First Nations Job Fund is the way they are conceived by governments and then rolled out without any two-way dialogue.

      "We have to keep pressing that the way forward is for first nations to be full partners in how these programs are designed and delivered," he said. There must be a new way of acting "so first nations aren't caught between successive governments telling us how we should be going about implementing these programs and the opposition parties telling us how we should feel about the implementation."

      We also have factions going to the United Nations to seek remedies while the Federal government seems to be blocking - or at least delaying - a visit by the UN rapporteur.

      [ Related: UN special advisor on indigenous rights still not allowed to visit Canada ]

      We have the federal government actively promoting oil pipelines while First Nations groups launchcampaigns against them.

      And the Idle No More organizers are still planning more protests and rallies.

      To their credit, the Harper government has reached out to First Nations with their January summit, some new funding in EAP 2013 and promises of a plan on education.

      But it appears, there's a lot more 'reaching out' that needs to be done.

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