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First Ministers' Meeting: a very big lie!

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  • Robert V. Schmidt
    Grassroots People s Coalition Pamphlet: The dispossession of their traditional territories is one of the root causes of the contemporary social and economic
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 1, 2005
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      Grassroots People's Coalition Pamphlet:

      "The dispossession of their traditional territories is one of the root
      causes of the contemporary social and economic ills and inequities that
      exist amongst Aboriginal Peoples in Canada."

      (Source: Liberal Party of Canada's 1993 Electoral Platform)

      FIRST MINISTERS' MEETING: A VERY BIG LIE!

      The First Ministers' & Phil Fontaine (AFN) are Committing a Fraud on the
      Canadian People!

      The First Ministers' Meeting on Aboriginal Issues, to be held Nov. 24, 25,
      2005, in Kelowna, B.C. is being orchestrated by the Paul Martin government
      with the support of Phil Fontaine (Assembly of First Nations) and the other
      National Aboriginal Organizations, for at least three main goals:

      a. Cooperate with capping and off-loading federal constitutional & fiscal
      responsibility for "Indians and lands reserved for the Indians" onto the
      provincial, territorial and municipal governments.
      b. Try to convince the Canadian public and national media that more money
      in Health, Housing, Education and Economic Development will fix the problem
      of First Nations poverty.
      c. Try to sideline and ignore the issues of Aboriginal and Treaty rights,
      First Nations ownership of lands and natural resources in Aboriginal
      title/Treaty territories.

      * Cause of First Nations Poverty

      The FMM in Kelowna is deliberately dealing with the symptoms not the causes
      of First Nations poverty, because there is a lack of political will by the
      federal and provincial governments:

      To respect and recognize Aboriginal and Treaty rights.
      To recognize the right of First Nations to self-determination.
      To re-distribute lands and resources illegally taken by Crown governments,
      or provide compensation for taking the lands and resources.

      * Federal-Provincial Deal-Making

      The FMM is another public federal-provincial negotiation session about the
      escalating costs of delivering programs and services to First Nations (and
      other Aboriginal peoples), and which level of government will pay.

      The federal government is now using the term "Aboriginal-Canadians" to lump
      First Nations in with the Inuit, M├ętis and urban Aboriginals in order to
      disguise the off-loading of federal constitutional and fiscal
      responsibilities for "Indians and lands reserved for the Indians" onto the
      other levels of government.

      The provinces, particularly B.C., Saskatchewan and Manitoba, are
      considering the take over of First Nations if Canada pays them enough in
      transfer payments.

      * No Mandate from the People

      The federal government has co-opted the Assembly of First Nations and the
      four other National Aboriginal Organizations by giving them large budgets
      and a "seat at the table" as Aboriginal and Treaty rights are traded off fo
      the modern day equivalent of "trinkets and beads".

      The grassroots people from First Nations communities have not been involved
      in this topdown, undemocratic process, and are only now learning of the
      consequences.

      Our actions in opposing the FMM are just the start of a larger political
      movement of reform taking place within our First Nation communities,
      Governments and organizations, to get out from under the colonial, racist
      Indian Act system.

      * Background on First Ministers Meeting

      At the last federal-provincial conference on "Indian Welfare" in 1964, the
      Pearson Liberal Government rewrote history by claiming that the provinces
      have always been responsible to fund Indian programs and service on and off
      reserves. The provinces rejected this attempt to offload costs that are
      100% federal jurisdiction. First Nations mobilized and formed the National
      Indian Brotherhood to fight this threat to treaty and fiduciary rights.

      What followed was four decades of offloading until the federal government
      had withdrawn from most off-reserve funding. Canada now funds only a
      subsistence level of on-reserve services. Former INAC Minister and Prime
      Minister, Jean Chretien, wrote that this is "on humanitarian grounds"
      because the provinces won't pay. The offloading occurred in waves, and the
      fiscal shocks on the provinces and on First Nations were tremendous.

      The Martin Liberals claim they are Aboriginal friendly. Then why do they
      hire Reform Party Aboriginal advisor Tom Flanagan as legal expert witness
      to dispute claims that Ottawa has an obligation to fund services? Why have
      they spent over $50 million in the Samson Cree case (in Alberta) alone,
      denying the existence of any obligation?

      This conference and its 10 year plan are about putting a ceiling on the
      federal fiscal obligation at a level far below what is needed to equalize
      health and socioeconomic conditions. Signing the agreement will commit
      First Nations to 10 years of making do with funding that has been withheld
      since the Liberals took power.
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