from: Don <dbain@...
Indian Act consultations put on hold
By STEPHEN THORNE-- The Canadian Press
HULL, Que. (CP) -- Federal consultations on a new Indian Act will be put
on hold for 30 days while government and native leaders discuss how to
proceed, Indian Affairs Minister Robert Nault said Tuesday.
The development came after strong protests from some native leaders who
threatened to blockade roads and mount other disruptive protests if
there was no change in the process they say steamrolls over their
"We'll get right at it -- the sooner, the better," Nault said after an
hour-long meeting with Matthew Coon Come, grand chief of the Assembly of
"The consultation process will continue but we have agreed, for the sake
of our relationship and to give time for the work plan to be put
together, that we'll have a 30-day cooling off period."
Nault said the two sides will talk about changes to the act, their
overall relationship and concerns expressed by the assembly at its
annual meeting in Halifax in July.
The minister said he expects to have a better idea where they're headed
within 10 days to two weeks.
Coon Come came to the meeting ostensibly to deliver a 30-day ultimatum
from the 700,000-member assembly he heads for Nault to abandon
consultations on how to revamp the 125-year-old act.
More than 200 such meetings have been held since May. The latest, Monday
at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, attracted only about a dozen
people, some of whom were suspicious of federal aims.
"Let us talk among ourselves and then we can come to the federal
government and talk," said Lewis Cardinal, a First Nations member who
directs the office of native student services at the university.
The 633 chiefs have boycotted the process, saying it's too rushed and
narrowly focused to allow real input on legislation, expected later this
The chiefs threatened an "aggressive strategic plan of action" across
Canada should Nault refuse to include them in a broader, longer term
Coon Come wouldn't comment Tuesday on the status of those threats, which
include the prospect of highway blockades.
He said part of the work plan will address issues such as health,
housing and economic development -- all of primary concern to the
Those issues were also mentioned in the Liberal throne speech that
opened Parliament in January, Coon Come pointed out. "We'll find a
solution; we'll find a way."
Said Nault: "I think as leaders -- no matter whether we're on the
federal government side or in First Nations communities -- we all want
our citizens to tell us what they think about how we can move together
down the road."
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