Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The only reason why Prime Minister Harper is meeting with the Council of First Nations is because Harper's masters, the oligarchy and their corporations, need to keep the the First Nations under their thumb for business reasons... they want to be free to continue raping the Earth for short term profit making, and most of Canada's petroleum deposits are affected by First Nation sovereignty.

2012-01-24 "After ‘aboriginal uprising’ warning, Stephen Harper says time has come to ‘reset the relationship’" by Teresa Smith and Bradley Bouzane from Postmedia News
OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper told a gathering of First Nations chiefs Tuesday that while the Indian Act will not be scrapped, it may be modernized to help build a healthier relationship between the government and Canada’s aboriginal community.
Harper told those at the summit in Ottawa — such as Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo, chiefs from across the country, Gov. Gen. David Johnston and other dignitaries — that co-operation on numerous levels is necessary to fully bring Canada’s First Nations into the country’s economy.
He said the approach will be to “replace elements of the Indian Act with more modern legislation and procedures, in partnership with provinces and First Nations.”
“To be sure, our government has no grand scheme to repeal or to unilaterally re-write the Indian Act,” Harper told the Crown-First Nations Gathering.
“After 136 years, that tree has deep roots. Blowing up the stump would just leave a big hole. However, there are . . . collaborative ways between our government, the provinces and First Nations leadership and communities . . . that provide options within the act, or outside of it, for practical, incremental and real change.”
For his part, while lauding the importance of the one-day summit, Atleo compared the Indian Act to a boulder in the middle of the road that “blocks the path of collaboration.”
“Largely unchanged, it remains a painful obstacle to re-establishing any form of meaningful partnership,” he said.
Harper told the gathering that it is important to learn from the past and focus on the future, noting that the time is perfect to “reset the relationship” between government and the aboriginal community in Canada, moving forward with a vision to fully include their communities in the country’s economy.
“This is a new day,” Harper said in his speech. “New generations are arising, generations that seek a common vision, that have common goals. And the greatest respect that we can show to First Nations men and women [is] to provide them with the tools, to credit them with the capacity and then allow them to move forward.
“We all need to move forward. So let us be willing partners,” he said.
The Crown-First Nations Gathering was called by Harper in the midst of the Attawapiskat housing crisis in northern Ontario last December.
“Our goal is much increased aboriginal participation in the economy and in the country’s prosperity,” Harper said.
“In terms of participation, standard of living and quality of life the time has come for First Nations to fully share with other Canadians from all walks of life . . . in an equal opportunity to find the dignity of gainful employment and more than that, the ability to raise a family in the security that comes with it.”
Speaking after Harper, Atleo cited the situation in Attawapiskat and other crises in aboriginal communities, and said more proactive measures are necessary.
“Our people cannot wait,” Atleo told the gathering. “They insist that we stop lurching from crisis to crisis. They ask us to begin anew, to re-build understanding and trust as the way forward.”
He called the summit just one piece of a much larger puzzle.
“Next must come new fiscal relationships that guarantee and deliver sustainable, equitable services based on mutually agreed standards and shared responsibility,” Atleo said.
“We need to build new structures and processes that affirm our relationship and uphold our responsibilities to one another. Structures that guarantee our ability to make the decisions that affect our lives and our lands — agreements that allow us, and the Government of Canada to assume their responsibilities.”
Traditional drumming and singing opened the daylong ceremonies in Ottawa on Tuesday as First Nations chiefs from across the country gathered to meet with the prime minister.
The ceremony began with prayers and a smudging, in which a female elder lights sweet grass and takes it to each of the key players.
They then exchanged ceremonial gifts as another elder sang a traditional prayer song.
The prime minister is only expected to stay until midday Tuesday — shortly after the official start of the meeting, because he’s preparing to leave in the evening for the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
That plan raised the ire of some chiefs.
On Monday night, Harper met behind closed doors with Atleo and several elders on Parliament Hill.
Cameron Alexis, grand chief of the Confederacy of Treaty 6 First Nations, who attended the meeting, said that Harper and Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan listened to what the chiefs had to say, but stopped short of making any commitments.
Chiefs attending the summit say they’re looking for further action and signs of respect from the federal government.
On Monday, a B.C. native leader warned that Canada could face an Arab Spring-style “uprising” if Harper doesn’t give a clear indication in his meeting with aboriginal leaders that he’s prepared to take their concerns seriously.
“We must do better. The honour of the Crown and the very integrity of Canada as a nation is at stake,” Stewart Phillip, grand chief of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, said in a news release issued by the Assembly of First Nations’ B.C. wing.
“Otherwise, an aboriginal uprising is inevitable.”
In his speech, Harper chronicled the relationship between Canada and its aboriginal people, including dark chapters of the nation’s history, such as the residential school system.
“For generations, the relationship between our peoples was tainted,” he said, “tainted in a manner that eroded trust and blocked ways forward as does a tree fallen across a road.”
But he said his government has made numerous strides toward improving the relationship, such as the apology for residential schools, the processing of land claims and the extending the full protection of the Canadian Human Rights Act, to aboriginal Canadians living on reserves.
“There has never been a better moment to build on what we have achieved … to move forward, to reset the relationship,” Harper said Tuesday, echoing the term used recently by Atleo.

Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper (C) looks on as Assembly of First Nations Chief Shawn Atleo (L) takes part in a traditional smudging ceremony at the Crown-First Nations Gathering in Ottawa January 24, 2012. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

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