Archive for February, 2010


Making our voices heard

Chief Lisa Shaver standing with a traditional talking stick while addressing members of the press about BC All Chiefs’ Task Force’s campaign to urge Prime Minister Harper and the conservative government to develop a public inquiry into Canada’s missing and murdered Aboriginal women.

Visit our photo gallery for more pictures from the event

Message from Chief Christian

Weytk (Hello) to everyone; as you can see that we are launching a post card campaign to get the public to send them to Prime Minister Harper for two things;
1. for Canada as the last country in the World to accept the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People and a
2. Public Inquiry into the Murdered and Missing Women.

I ask that if you are Chief, Hereditary Leader, Tribal Leader, or activist or just a person who wants to get involved that you encourage your people to send the post cards in to the Prime Minister and distribute them through your networks. We need to show Canada that we as Indigenous people will not be forgotten, like they have forgotten about our women who have been murdered and are missing.

I ask the Canadian Public to get involved and show that Canada is truly a leader of Human Rights in the world by forcing your Leader to do what is right and agree to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People as minimum standards for our international human rights; so that when you travel throughout the world you can display the Canada flag with pride. The official policy of denial by Canada has to be push aside for the Rule of Law to prevail which is enshrined in Section 35 of Canada’s constitution – your constitution. You witnessed with the world at the opening ceremony of Vancouver 2010 that we do exist as an Indigenous people, with a language, culture and laws. We need you to force your leaders to do what is right for us and Canada. Get involved send in the post card, email Harper, distribute this message throughout your networks.

The Olympics are coming to an end with the para-Olympics to begin 10 days later. We need to shift our focus to Poverty & Children and Title & Rights. There are more children in the care of the state (27,000 nationally) then when the Residential Schools operated at their height. The Prime Minister in the House of Commons on June 11th 2008 he uttered these words: “ We now recognize that, in separating children from their families, we undermined the ability of many to adequately parent their own children and sowed the seeds for generations to follow, and we apologize for having done this.” The Prime Ministers words in the hallowed space of the democracy are insincere as Canada’s refusal to sign the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People is a clear indicator that our Human rights are not recognized in Canada.

Kukpi7 Christian

Okanagan Nation Territory, Vernon – In response to threats from Tolko to commence logging of the watershed that supplies the majority of the 1,800 residents of the Okanagan Indian Band with their drinking water, the Okanagan Indian Band membership commenced a protective blockade of the Browns Creek watershed at 7:00 a.m. Monday, February 22nd at the Okanagan campsite located near Bouleau Lake.

“This is not an action we took lightly, nor is it once we commenced without exhausting all of our legal options,” said Okanagan Indian Band Chief Fabian Alexis. “However given the active collusion between the Ministry of Forests and Tolko and the continued indifference of the federal government, we had no choice but to act to protect our water supply.”

“The fact is that when our reserves were first established it was with the clear understanding that our water supplies would be maintained for future generations,” noted Chief Alexis. “Instead the federal government abandoned its fiduciary obligation and allowed the Province of British Columbia to sell off our water rights thus resulting in a number of fish bearing creeks that run through our reserve being reduced to dry gullies.”

“Even as these creeks ran dry the province continued to authorize the industrial clear cutting of the watersheds that provide our drinking water, thus presenting a clear threat to the safety and well being of all residents both indigenous and non-indigenous who live on and near our reserve,” added Chief Alexis.

“As usual, not a peep has been heard from Ottawa over this matter,” noted Chief Alexis. “Ottawa has through its consistent indifference yet again sown the seeds of a conflict that was utterly avoidable had they ever showed any interest in living up to their fiduciary obligations.”


Page Two

“Every other non-indigenous community would as a matter of course have their watersheds protected,” stated Chief Alexis. “Thus what we demand for ourselves is a right every non-indigenous Canadian already expects; to have the right to clean drinking water.”

“It is with this fundamental right in mind that I am today announcing the end of all logging in the watersheds that provide our community’s water supply,” said Chief Alexis.

“Thus no commercial logging will be permitted in these areas until further notice. Finally in order to avoid any further repeat or escalation of this conflict we would also advise the Province of British Columbia to stop issuing cutting permits in areas where their title to the land is in dispute and is still a matter to be resolved by the courts,” concluded Chief Alexis.

A map showing the areas where commercial logging is prohibited will be issued by the Okanagan Indian Band later this week.

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For more information please contact:

Chief Fabian Alexis cell (250) 306-2838, phone (250) 542-4328

Coast Salish Territory, February 22, 2010: The BC All Chiefs’ Task Force has launched a campaign challenging the Federal Government to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Canadians are being asked to forward a letter expressing their concern about Canada’s refusal to sign the Declaration.

The UNDRIP intends to recognize the collective rights of Indigenous Peoples including fundamental human rights for First Nations such as inherent rights to traditional lands and territories, self-determination, and unqualified recognition of First Nations peoples, cultures, languages, and identities. However, Canada is one of only four nations to have voted against the Declaration. Overwhelming support was demonstrated with 143 states voting in favour of the declaration. Australia has since decided to support the UNDRIP, and the United States and New Zealand are currently reviewing their position. Canada’s House of Commons passed a motion on April 8, 2008 endorsing the UN DRIP and calling upon Parliament and the Government of Canada to “fully implement the standards contained therein;” however, the Harper Government has refused to sign on.

“The UNDRIP outlines the internationally adopted minimal standards of human rights of Indigenous Peoples which will support strong First Nations governments, economies, families and communities, and ultimately benefit all Canadians. The Declaration is a statement of the principles that should guide our relationship. It provides a way to measure our progress. It is time that we all embrace the Declaration and act on its principles,” says Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo.

“By adopting the UNDRIP Canada will affirm the basic standards required for the survival, dignity, and well-being of First Nation peoples. We encourage all Canadian’s, who are viewed internationally as the defender of human rights, to speak out about the Canadian Government not adopting the UNDRIP,” says Chief Wayne Christian, spokesperson for the B.C. All Chiefs’ Task Force.“

“The cost for Canada to not support the Declaration will be highlighted in First Nations poverty, further missing women, education disparities, and continued land and resource disputes. It makes resounding sense for Canada to adopt the UNDRIP—it supports strong Nations and vibrant families and communities which will benefit First Nations and non-First Nations alike,” says Beverley Clifton Percival, Chair, BC All Chiefs’ Task Force.

The All Chief’s Task Force has embarked on a province-wide letter writing and post card campaign and encourages other organizations to do the same. This week postcards will be delivered to over 5,000 homes in the Vancouver area, including the B.C Premier’s home riding asking residents to contact the Prime Minister’s office and encourage him to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Post Cards can be downloaded at https://firstnationstaskforce.wordpress.com/.

Task Force PSA- Poverty
Task Force PSA- UN DRIP
Task Force PSA- Rights Violations
Task Force PSA- Missing Women

Task Force Postcard

The British Columbia All Chiefs’ Task Force is asking the public for their support with a post card campaign to Prime Minister Harper. The goal of the campaign is to have the Canadian Government sign the United Nations Declaration on the rights of Indigenous People. Download the supportive campaign letter or postcard and add your voice to the cause.

I write to you regarding the growing critical concern of First Nation education in Canada. In particular, I call on the Government of Canada to confirm an education guarantee for a secure and sustainable fiscal framework for First Nation education that will be based on real costs and needs.

The Band Operated Funding Formula (BOFF) for First Nation schools was developed in 1988 by the federal government and has never been revised. While Provincial educational reforms constantly move to improve – First Nation funding for education is frozen in time. The 1988 BOFF does not include costs to provide modern essentials for student learning such as integrated information technologies, books for school libraries, or other costs associated with provincial education reforms. In 2005, an internal INAC report on the Evaluation of the Band-Operated and Federal schools made this statement: “The current funding formula is an archaic instrument for achieving public policy ends and meeting the needs of First Nations people.”

In 1996, INAC placed a 2% funding cap on programs and services to First Nations, including education spending. In contrast, several provincial governments have invested significant amounts of funding into provincial education well beyond a 2% annual increase. For example, total expenditures in public schools nationally increased at nearly twice the rate of inflation between 2000-01 and 2006-07. Specifically, expenditures increased 4.5% between 2005-06 and 2006-07, to $49.6 billion; and up 27.9% over the six-year period, while the rate of inflation over the same time period was 14.4%. And, INAC pays without question all tuition costs for First Nation students attending provincial schools.

This clearly illustrates a disconnect with respect to comparable funding for expected comparable outcomes between provincial and First Nation schools.

All stages of education require attention and support. As the fastest growing population in Canada and as confirmed by countless studies, enhancing investment in First Nation post secondary education is a critical requirement that will return significant dividends to both First Nation and Canadian societies and economies, as stated in the Report of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs And Northern Development (2007).

And finally, a 2009 report of the Parliamentary Budget Officer indicates how serious the gap is between actual funding and the funding needed to meet the needs in educational infrastructure. How can we accept that such a basic and fundamental right for all children to have a safe and healthy school be compromised in a country such as Canada?

I join my voice to the voices of the Assembly of First Nations National Chief, Shawn Atleo, leaders, educators, parents, students, and First Nation communities throughout Canada, that there be a clear commitment heard in the coming speech from the throne that recognizes the problem and resolves to act decisively in the interest of First Nations and all of Canada. We seek specific commitment to a focused and short-term process to review the funding formula, in collaboration with First Nations, and to swiftly introduce mechanisms leading to a sustainable and secure fiscal framework for First Nation education.

Education is certainly not the only issue facing First Nations and requiring attention, however, it represents a critical first step towards accomplishing the goals of reconciliation established by your Government in the Apology to former students of residential schools. We join together to urge your Government to take this first necessary and essential step to generate hope and opportunity for First Nation youth and communities.

CBC National Documentary

This ten minute documentary ran with the CBC National report on the February 14th Women’s Memorial March.  It shows the lasting effects of a tragic loss in the Downtown Eastside.

VANCOUVER, Feb. 16 /CNW Telbec/ – Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo issued the following statement following the 19th Annual Women’s Memorial March in Vancouver.

“It was a great honour to march along side our Indigenous Grandmothers, mothers, sisters, daughters and nieces paying respect to those who are no longer among us. We are aware of over 520 unsolved cases; for the families and friends of those murdered or missing, it is not acceptable that Canada has not acted, in a decisive fashion, to address this situation. As I tabled before Parliament late last year, the Assembly of First Nations advocates strongly for dedicated and urgent attention through launching a National Action Plan on Murdered and Missing First Nations women across Canada.

It is difficult for me to put into words the emotions I felt last Sunday marching among the grieving crowd and I provide you with a quote from Grand Chief Doug Kelly (Tseem Th’ewali) that he shared with me following the march”:

“I was struck and amazed by the strength and the deep heartfelt love shared by the grandmothers, mothers, sisters, nieces and daughters that spoke today at today’s memorial. In spite of their personal pain, grief, and sorrow, each of these powerful women reminded us to take care of one another, to teach our children the values that will sustain them, and to remember our loved ones that are missing or murdered.

Today, the leaders were reminded to remember. We were told about our job to speak for those that cannot speak for themselves. We were told to seek justice and not to give up until we achieve justice for not only missing and murdered women but those that prey on our children and perpetuate violence against our grandmothers, mothers, aunts, sisters, daughters, and granddaughters. Like you, I was honored to stand with our women. It was gratifying to see our colleagues standing together on this very important matter.”

The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada.

For further information: Alain Garon, Bilingual Communications Officer, (418) 956-5720 or agaron@afn.ca

The Canadian government has failed to act on urgent requests to sign the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. It’s time to have our voices heard.

Help us get this issue the attention it deserves, by sending an email directly to the Prime Minister. Click on the link below for the Prime Minister’s email address and then copy and paste the provided e-campaign letter.

Email Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Dear Prime Minister Harper,

I am deeply concerned about Canada’s refusal to sign the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The Government of Canada, as a human rights leader and signatory to other international human rights instruments, has a responsibility to set a global example in the recognition and respect of Indigenous people living in Canada.  Not only is Canada’s refusal to sign the declaration a refusal to recognize the rights of Aboriginal people living in Canada but sets a bad example for developing countries that look to Canada as a leader in Human Rights affairs.

To date, Canada remains one of the only countries refusing to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  Since the adoption of the declaration by 144 states on September 13th, 2007, three out of the four countries that refused to sign on have since reversed or reviewed their decision, Canada has remained the sole country refusing to change their stance.

To this end, I urge you to sign the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.