Collaborat​ive Approach Needed to Help Attawapisk​at

The Green Party of Canada is calling for continued and sustained political cooperation to resolve the ongoing First Nations issues in Canada.  “The story of Attawapiskat is heartbreaking but unfortunately not unique,” said Green Leader Elizabeth May, MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands.  “Attawapiskat is a crisis that is ongoing and if we don’t take action on a broad, national scale, this story will be repeated on other reserves, with other families.”

“The Canadian government continues to fail First Nations.  Many of the current problems could have been prevented by signing the Kelowna accord, but it was a victim of political partisanship,” said Lorraine Rekmans, Aboriginal Affairs Critic for the Green Party of Canada.

There are 116 First Nations in Canada without access to clean drinking water. More than 20,000 First Nations people living on reserves have no running water or sewage systems. One in four First Nation children lives in poverty.

“Sadly, government inaction continues to perpetuate the terrible living condition of our First Nations.  Fundamentally, all Aboriginal peoples deserve their dignity.  They deserve respect, an end to policies of assimilation, and strong support for health and education on and off reserve,” said May.

The Green Party of Canada supports the restoration of the $5.1 billion commitment of the landmark Kelowna Accord reached between federal and provincial, territorial and First Nations governments in Canada in 2005, with the proviso that the ensuing programs do not lead to greater infringement on Aboriginal and treaty rights. One of the central features of the Accord is the creation of “baselines,” critical to assess the levels of Aboriginal health and well-being. The Green Party also believes in the importance of respecting the Haida decision–the right of Aboriginal peoples to be not just consulted but their concerns accommodated regarding decisions that may impact their resources and their future.

“The Attawapiskat crisis needs immediate action,” said Rekmans.  “It should also wake us up to the incredible complexity of the needs of First Nations in Canada.  They are still reeling from the impacts of generations of assault upon their traditional cultures and values. We need to ensure basic needs like adequate housing in the short term, but we must also take a broad perspective to ensure this situation is not repeated.  This will require collaboration from all levels of government, including First Nations governments.”