Greens Celebrate National Aboriginal Day; Praise Aboriginal Activism

The Green Party of Canada today recognizes National Aboriginal Day, a time to celebrate the heritage and achievements of Canada’s three Aboriginal groups – the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis. It is also a time to acknowledge that it has been a difficult year for Canada’s indigenous peoples. A recent report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) found that half of Canada’s status First Nations children live in poverty – three times the national average. The study also warns that “… indigenous children trail the rest of Canada’s children on practically every measure of well-being: family income, educational attainment, water quality, infant mortality, health, suicide, crowding and homelessness …”

For this and many other reasons, the peaceful and patient voices of indigenous activism across the country, including Idle No More, have been rising. Those attending Idle No More demonstrations and actions on Parliament Hill and across the country felt a surge of pride and hope as they watched as people demanded their rights after centuries of oppression. In March, Green Party Leader and MP Elizabeth May was on Parliament Hill to help welcome Nishiyuu, a group of courageous and determined young people from the James Bay Cree community of Whapmagoostui, Que. There were cheers and tears as they arrived after a 1,600 kilometre trek, accompanied by many supporters who joined them along the way.

Just last week, the 300-member, British-Columbia-based Hupacasath First Nation took the Harper Conservatives’ Canada-China Foreign Protection and Promotion Agreement (FIPA) to court. They argued that the government has a duty to consult First Nations before ratifying international treaties. The Hupacasath sought an injunction on the grounds that the Canada-China FIPA could undermine First Nations’ governance and the indigenous rights they have been guaranteed in the Constitution.

On July 5 and 6, a Tar Sands Healing Walk will be held near Fort McMurray in northern Alberta. Hundreds of people from across Canada and the world are planning to attend. Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Fort Chipewyan First Nation said: “We believe that our politicians are out of touch and have no idea what it is like to live day-to-day in a place that has been made toxic by out of control tar sands development.”

“There is clearly a lack of political will to ensure equity and well being for Indigenous peoples in Canada. What is even more egregious is the shocking greed and corruption evident in the Senate and in the House,” said Green Party Aboriginal Affairs Critic Lorraine Rekmans. “In stark contrast, we see elected and appointed officials lining their pockets while children in this country go hungry and suffer from ill health due to the lack of food and clean water.”