Atleo wonders if First Nations need to trigger 'crisis ourselves' to get Ottawa's attention

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo says the Conservative government is headed for conflict unless it stops trying to unilaterally ram through legislation impacting First Nations who hold the future of $500 billion worth of resource development projects in their hands.

(AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo APTN/File photo)

APTN National News
OTTAWA--Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo says the Conservative government is headed for conflict unless it stops trying to unilaterally ram through legislation impacting First Nations who hold the future of $500 billion worth of resource development projects in their hands.

In a speech delivered during the First Nations Fisheries Council gathering earlier this month on Hupacasath First Nation, Atleo said the recent rash of proposed legislation introduced by the government ignores over 40 court cases on consultation, the Canadian Constitution and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The speech was reported by Ha-Shilth-Sa, a newspaper published by the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council of which the national chief’s home community on Vancouver Island is a member.

Atleo said First Nations are being forced into a corner.

“We don’t have a constitutional crisis like we had in the 1990s…We don’t have Oka that produced the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples,” said Atleo, according to the report. “So what are our choices? Do we foment that crisis ourselves?”

Debora Steel, the reporter who wrote the original story, said Atleo left the question open.

Atleo said there is $500 billion worth of natural resource projects slated to unfold on First Nations territories.

“We will have a say and we’ll let this country and the international community know that we will have a say,” said Atleo, according to the report.

The national chief suggested that First Nations might be outnumbered by federal forces but they will push back nonetheless, the report said.

“It doesn’t matter the size of the dog in the fight. (What) matters is the size of the fight in the dog,” he is quoted as saying.

Atleo recently wrote Prime Minister Stephen Harper saying that the words and promises stemming from this past January’s Crown-First Nation Gathering have not translated into actual change.

The AFN is holding its annual special chiefs assembly in Gatineau, Que., next week.

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5 thoughts on “Atleo wonders if First Nations need to trigger 'crisis ourselves' to get Ottawa's attention

  1. We need to eliminate the segregation laws in Canada called the Indian Act. Racism, and the Dictatorship style powers Canada uses over First Nations needs to stop. At some point, when your pushed into a corner, you have no choice but to fight your way out of it.

    1. Certainly the Indian Act has a racist history but one must be very careful there. You must ask if you scrap the Indian Act (which Harper promised in his 2006 election platform) what will you replace it with? If the answer is the Municipal Act, that is the White Paper of 1969 all over again.

      Keep in mind Harper’s political past. He is the same political leader who penned (with the help of others who also signed it) the “Alberta Agenda” with his infamous “Firewall.” An extreme few of his supporters have actually read this manifesto but if you did, you can plainly see that in Quebec they call this “Sovereignty Association.” And just like the separatist/regionalism movement in Quebec, it assumes that all resource wealth within their specific province belongs to the dominant society. Even though insofar as natural resource wealth is concerned, not one single stone came over on the ships from Europe. There is no mention of First Nations whatsoever.

  2. There are many of our peoples living today with inadequate nutritian, high poverty rates, lack of access to natural resources, lack of access to natural foods, poor housing, high unemployment, suicide, missing women and now, the many funding cuts to Aboriginal Programs. The government thinks they can govern us better Canada you have not done a good job so far. Give First Peoples access to tax major companies that are taking resources out of there lands. Return lands that have been held in trust for the peoples that have no treaty agreement so First Peoples can support themselves. How many decades has it been since natural resources have been taken out of First Nations territories. We should sue the government for only collecting revenues from these decades and not providing a percentage to the First Peoples for thier resources being taken out of thier territories. How long have Canadian People lived in areas where there are no treaties and not paid purchase or tax to First Peoples.

  3. Many high chiefs and leaders of organizations are secretly signing deals just like what Elmer Derrick did to the Gitxsans, just so they will get signing bonuses. Selling out their own people, and communities up north. Harper has his pocket of such deals. He said he has many aboriginals that agree with him. He calls it changes. Such crap.

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