Harper tells chiefs they should contact their MPs

First Nations leaders will be listening closely to the words Prime Minister Stephen Harper chooses in his speech at the Crown-First Nations gathering Tuesday after he left chiefs feeling underwhelmed by his response to their presentations during a special, two-and-a-half hour meeting with a delegation Monday.

By Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
First Nations leaders will be listening closely to the words Prime Minister Stephen Harper chooses in his speech at the Crown-First Nations gathering Tuesday after he left chiefs feeling underwhelmed by his response to their presentations during a special, two-and-a-half hour meeting with a delegation Monday.

Harper told chiefs that they should consider contacting their MPs and that he can’t just focus on Aboriginal issues because he has to run the country, according to three chiefs who were present at the meeting.

His comments left chiefs concerned the prime minister was not taking their issues seriously.

“To hear the prime minister make reference to the number of issues he is dealing with raises questions in my mind and those questions will need to be answered in his words tomorrow to First Nations,” said Serpent River Chief Isadore Day. “Tomorrow will be a very good indication of where the prime minister is in his resolve, or lack thereof, to deal with First Nations issues.”

Grand Chief Ghislain Picard, who heads the Assembly of First Nations Quebec wing, said it was surprising to hear Harper tell chiefs that they should consider contacting their local MPs.

“It is kind of funny coming from him that these would be the channels when it’s exactly what we’ve done for the past six years to build some pressure on this government,” said Picard. “Are we going to be back on square one? It’s going to be a waste of time, this week in Ottawa.”

The meeting with Harper, which according to chiefs was agreed to at the 11th hour, did alleviate some of the anger and disappointment over the prime minister’s plan to leave Tuesday’s “historic” gathering early.

When Harper announced the event in December, he said he hoped it would be “historic.”

The Prime Minister’s Office agreed to a meeting with limited number of delegates from each region. The parties met in a boardroom in the Langevin building, across from Parliament Hill, which houses Harper’s main office. The meeting ran from about 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. local time.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip said there were about 45 people in the room, including chiefs, elders, Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan and his Parliamentary Secretary Greg Rickford.

Harper opened the meeting saying he was there to listen.

“I was extremely proud of some of the profoundly powerful statements made by some of the elders, grand chiefs and regional chiefs that were in the room,” said Phillip.  “In the end we waited for the response from the prime minister, which was very, very brief, almost disappointingly brief.”

Phillip said the prime minister basically told chiefs that he couldn’t just focus on their issues because he had to run the country.

“He did make a point of saying basically that, as the prime minister of Canada, he had many, many other issues. He talked about the great responsibility and many interests on this ‘great ship of state’ as he described the country,” said Phillip. “Quite astonishingly…at the very end he was recommending we go home and talk to our MPs.”

Phillip said most of the delegates were consistent in their call for a series of first ministers meeting, or some kind of similar, high-level process, to deal with issues of dire poverty, treaty and land rights once and for all.

Now, chiefs will wait to hear what the prime minister says in his speech Tuesday and what gets accomplished during sessions with cabinet ministers to gauge what to do next. They’ll either continue negotiating or take their issues to the streets.

“After all of that takes place, there is going to be reflection from the delegates,” said Phillip. “There is an incredibly high level of frustration and anger and resentment that has been expressed by our elders, our traditional leaders, grand chiefs, and chiefs.”

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43 thoughts on “Harper tells chiefs they should contact their MPs

  1. nnAfter 6 years of preparation and all that the Prime Minister Harper can offer is to u201cu2026tellsnchief they should contact their MPs.u201du00a0nnnu00a0nnnBy telling Chief to contact their MPs is an insult to bothnthe position of the Chiefs and the treaty rights that form our country. During the last winter Olympics in Vancouver Chiefs of the host First Nations were treated as Heads of State. That is who our Chiefs are equal to, the Head of State of Canada, and that is Mr. Steven Harper. Wherenis the equal sharing relationship defined by the treaties? nnnu00a0nnnDue to this lack of respect we encourage Chiefs become thatnMP or endorse a young and well educated Aboriginal to become the MP with one ofnthe many federal political parties. nnnu00a0nnnIn fact, you donu2019t have to invent the wheel, there is anfederal political party that is based on and guided by First Nations traditionsnand values, The First Peoples National Party of Canada (fpnpoc.ca). When ournpeople become the MPs then we can roll that sacred wheel to Ottawanand fix the wagon that has been broken since contact. nnnu00a0nnnWe canu2019t wait any longer for the governmental system tonchange, we need to change it. In order to bring about change we need to have anseat at the table. The only way to get a spot is to have a candidate in eachnriding across the country in the next federal election. nnnu00a0nnnThen we will have our issues on the agenda because we arenpresent and have a legal and legitimate right to be heard. This will get thenattention of the government, awaken and educate the rest of Canadanto our rightful place in our shared history and future. nnWill Morinnnnn

  2. How can the 1st Nations people talk about stolen land?u00a0 They had no concept of owning land or water or air.u00a0 And, while the treaty process covered most of Canada until the rocky mountains, they sold their rights pretty cheap.u00a0 However, in retrospect, if you go back far enough, everything was once pretty cheap.u00a0 On the other hand, there were wars among 1st nations.u00a0 Some of which were recorded in written history, far more, forgotten.u00a0 The whole sale slaughter of Eskimo peoples by the Cree, the Huron by the Iroquois, the Mohawks, Algonquins and pretty much every 1st nation lived in a culture of kill and take.u00a0 Boundaries were where murder began at the hand of your neighbor.u00a0 Or, in the case of the Slavey people, their boundary was defined by where they would definitely be enslaved.u00a0 Some perhaps rightly say that the “white man” was no better.u00a0 But the question is, is our Canadian society benign in comparison today?u00a0 Clearly first nations people recognize western society as not only inevitable but also preferable.u00a0 It is a good thing for people to hold sacred their heritage, and carry good from their cultures, but is the lot of the first nations any worse than it was 100, or 200, or 500 years ago?u00a0 Why is it they don’t live in the housing of their ancestors?u00a0u00a0 Why is the water from the same lake of their great great grandparents no longer acceptable to drink if it isn’t because it is compared to treated tap water in Toronto?u00a0 I remember it wasn’t so long ago as a boy both peoples shared the same outhouse.u00a0 That is no longer acceptable why?u00a0 Because there is an implicit understanding that in some ways at least, modern society is the new universal standard of living by which we measure all others.u00a0 My great great grandfather owned a great forest of hardwood.u00a0 He sold it on a handshake that was never completed.u00a0 Sometimes I think I am like 1st nations peoples because I think of all the money that would be worth today.u00a0 I wouldn’t sell it, but our great great grandfathers did.u00a0 But then, if western society were not here, there would be no demand so that forest would be worthless in terms of commodity.u00a0 It might good if all of us could go back to where we really believed that no man owned the air we breathe or so we are inclined to think.u00a0 But after our discussion, we climb into our trucks and burn what is precious without a second thought.

  3. Please submit SPECIFICS of what you want and consider NO MORE MONEY from Canadians is part of the deal.u00a0

  4. State Sanctioned RacismnIt must end. Scrap the act. Give all groups 3 years to submit their claims. Give all parties 15 years to resolve all claims. There should be only two potential results from any claim. 1 – Complete Autonomy, the band/reserve becomes a nation conforming to all international laws and conventions such that if you want to live on the Reserve Nation and work in Canada you need your work permit and passport to enter Canada. 2 – Become just another community in Canada subject to all the same national/provincial/municipal obligations & rights as the rest of us. Anything else is simply making ourselves and our children responsible for the despicable behaviour of long dead British men in powder wigs & frock coats.

    1. What you fail to understand is that this it not “dead British men in powder wigs” thatu00a0have continued to perpetuate and support one ofu00a0the most racist pieces of legislation currently in practice (theu00a0MOST racist in so calledu00a0’developed’ countries), noru00a0are they solelyu00a0responsbile for the current standardu00a0of living of First Nations people in this country. It is theu00a0″system” put in place by those individualsu00a0that hasu00a0transended time and people that is responsible.u00a0To this day, nothing has been done to change this system. It’s easy to deflect the blameu00a0to your forefathers and indeed that is argument many people haveu00a0made in mainstream society. “Why are weu00a0responsible for what people did many years ago to the natives?” WE are responsible because we have a collective responsbility to notu00a0let our brothers and sisters suffer andu00a0live in the conditions theyu00a0do. Is that notu00a0a part of what makes us Canadian?u00a0Until the non-Indigenous community starts speaking out against the injustice in this country, progress will be slow and combative with this government and every government that comes after. People seem to think First Nations people are asking for handouts fromu00a0the taxpayeru00a0which is a ludicrous assumption.u00a0Our current system does not allow First Nations people tou00a0use the land they have occupied for 1000’s of years, yet our government allows companies to come in and extract what they want,u00a0with no regard for the environment or theu00a0communitues they affect. The only way to stop them was going to court, which many First Nations have done. Seeing asu00a0it is not illegalu00a0for First Nations to hire legal counsel anymore, the courtsu00a0are whereu00a0First Nations are taking the battle. It shouldnt have to be thisu00a0way however. People need to learn the real history of this countryu00a0instead of relying on the media or the current education system to provide them with facts. I am ashamed to say that I didu00a0not learn these truths in the public school system so I can only assume that most others are not learning them either and are relying on propaganda and the corporate media for their information.nnAlso, almost 70% of First Nations people nowu00a0live off reserve andu00a0hence pay taxes.u00a0Unemploymentu00a0on reserve is sou00a0high (80-90% in some communities)u00a0that any tax dollarsu00a0that could contribute to theu00a0Canadian economyu00a0are negligible. Please quit spewing out the taxu00a0exemption argument.u00a0u00a0u00a0u00a0u00a0

      1. How about the 40-50 first nations that are richer than stink give money to the 500+ that aren’t?nnDid you know very few businesses will do business on a u00a0reserve ?Why because there is No legal way to get their money if the natives default.nI wouldn’t either..would you ?nnas I see it the problem is in Northern Reserves.nnI have always said: Be careful what you wish for or agree to.nnNative should get in to this new millenium…. instead of bringing up the past, times have changed this is no longer 1867.nnContribute instead of Always TAKING.

  5. Once again Harper proves how ignorant he can be as a leader of Canada. Seriously, Indigenous people don’t need to go see their “MP’s” the government should be talking to Indigenous communities separately in my opinion. Harper’s a joke.

  6. First Nations aren’t special. u00a0They’re just people, like every other person in the country. u00a0If they’re suffering, use the programs that are available to all Canadians. u00a0Sitting there with your hands out looking for freebies and special treatment from the government because of your skin colour only makes everyone else angry. u00a0And I don’t just mean angry white people. u00a0There are lots of immigrants, plenty of people who had a hard run, disenfranchised from their culture, who have succeeded, and I’m not talking about some lucky little pocket of individuals who just happened to hack it out. u00a0There are as many or more successful immigrants with no social supports or special treatment who are now living well than there are natives in this country, despite hive-like birth rates among natives. u00a0″Equal funding”? u00a0If you want First World treatment, try joining the First World framework that is already set up. u00a0Sounds like a good plan to me. u00a0Chronically crying about the past and all its woes doesn’t befit anyone who intends to improve their situation, including people who have brown skin (shocker!).

    1. In truth the First Nations do face challenges not addressed by any existing program; this is coupled with an undermined desire for self-determination and racist stereotypes furthered by individuals with no idea what they are talking about, like the poster above and others.nnCultural redress is not an empty gesture or an inappropriate demand; it is a portion of the path to integration. Integration is not off the table for First Nations, but cultural redress must come first by working together.u00a0nnIf the PMO is content to dismiss this issue, as it seemed to be yesterday, it may be preferable to how it seems to be today. Today it appears the PMO will use this occasion to justify scrapping the treaty opportunities unrealized, under the guise of keeping the treaty while unilaterally deciding it’s content.nnFirst Nations should indeed continue to work toward equality, equity and advancement in every regard; it may be at a crux where First Nations will again be dictated to by Canadian government. I hope the aboriginal leaders will choose to mistrust the PM until a result is demonstrated by Stephen Harper.u00a0nnRemember this man appointed a man with no knowledge of aboriginal affairs to that ministry. There is no concrete reason to believe or think that the PMO has anything but u00a0unbalanced intentions.

      1. Please define all the RHETORIC that was espoused by Alteo and other chiefs?nnWhat do all those statements mean ?

        1. I require that you provide excerpts from each and every individual that spoke, specifically the passages you wish interpreted and why you cannot decipher their meaning yourself. These must be unaltered and attributed.nnIf you cannot ask a proper question it is unlikely any answer would satisfy you, as your question is a clear indicator that you are determined to answer the question yourself but with emotion and not reason.According to what you have written thus there is a good chance that you are a racist, not a stakeholder and relatively useless.

          1. Pretty well everything that came out of their mouths was rhetoric.nnI’ll be back with some quotes for you

          2. Atleo went even further, condemning the Indian Act for the u201cassimilation and the destruction of our cultures.u201dnu201cLargely unchanged, it remains a painful obstacle to re-establishing any form of meaningful partnership,u201d he said.nu201cIt is well past time that began to undo the damage that act has inflicted on our peoples and to our partnership,u201d Atleo saidnHe said the Tuesday meeting must mark the u201cbeginning of renewalu201d and made an urgent appeal to tackle the problems confronting many aboriginal communities.u201cOur people cannot wait,u201d Atleo said, citing communities like Attawapiskat that to highlight u201cthe pain of broken lives, the tragedy of lost opportunity.u201du201cThey insist we stop lurching from crisis to crisis,u201d he said.

  7. Harper is a clown. He has no interest at all in the First Nations agenda. None whatsoever. What an insult telling our Chiefs and Elders he has a country to run. To talk to our local MPs.u00a0 As long as this Government can come onto our traditional lands and take what they want at will, they will not stop. We have no money to offer to further fill their greedy, bottomless pockets. Wake up the First Peoples of Canada. You are in denial.

  8. who the hell does Mr Harper think he is- he is here to represent the people, and that means all the people, not just his corporate cronies. u00a0This is contempt and arrogance and it should be grounds to kick him to the curb

  9. Of course Harper is not taking you seriously – come on! u00a0How many wasted meeting is it going to take before our Aboriginal Leaders figure that out, stop wasting time letting Harper set the pace and DEMAND some respect!

  10. Harper is a racist and incapable of running a country if he can’t handle all the issues. He’s in over his head. n

    1. Let’s see what happens:npovertynsuicidesndespairn4th world living conditionsnnI don’t see much difference with or without tax money.n

    2. Let’s see what happens:npovertynsuicidesndespairn4th world living conditionsnnI don’t see much difference with or without tax money.n

  11. How thoroughly dismissive of you 1law4all.u00a0 And how convenient to blame victims of Apartheid for the state of victimhood in which they’ve been placed.u00a0 I think the very fact that any First Nations people and cultural practices have at all survived since Contact says that First Nations people are Survivors, despite all odds. Of course, that’d be no thanks to your attitude.n

  12. Fueren, we live on land that has not yet been paid for.u00a0 We owe bigtime.u00a0 First Nations aren’t taking; First Nations people are simply demanding what it owed them.u00a0 Of course we can never fully repay for all settler society has taken, that’s true, but I think we owe it to them to end the system of Apartheid that’s been set up

  13. As long as there is money involvedu00a0in being a victim, there will always be a victim. nu00a0

    1. as long as there is profit in exploiting people and lands, there will always be exploitersn

  14. actually the problem is that many first nations people don’t get equal funding. Many people thinku00a0aboriginals don’t pay taxes butu00a0in factu00a0they do,u00a0however there are certain taxes they don’t have to pay (which they don’t have to pay because theu00a0Canadianu00a0government signed a contract saying they don’t have to as part of the agreement.) Of course I’m sure you don’t have to give equal funding to say someone who lives in Toronto, it’s an expensive place to live but it should be equal to a similar sized non-aboriginal community. How would you like it if all your tax money only went to everyone but your family? Aboriginals contribute to Canadian society ALL the time. The problem is that people like ‘Mil1ion’ still think that all aboriginals are DIRTY INDIANS. If your not willing to view all people as equal no matter their religion, ethnicity or race then you’re not really very Canadian yourself. There are plenty of countries you can go live in where you don’t have to worry about us.

    1. My suggestion …Don’t ASSume anything about anyone,especially me.nnYou have NO IDEA who I am or what I know about 1st nations people ….from educating myself first handn.nnRemember the movie: Little Big Man ?nnWell I had a part in it.u00a0nnI am now 61 and in my first year of high school (1965) a Native Indian sat behind me in most of our classes,we were good friends for the next 5 years before he went to college and became a trademennnHis name Francis Spearchief u00a0lived OFF ff the reserve as has always been a Contributor to Canadian society by working paying taxes becoming ALL HE COULD BE without u00a0expecting the gov’t to GIVE him money for nothingnnHe never inhaled gasoline,was drunk,ingested u00a0Lysol,Vanilla extract and all those other things the white man has seen native donnThe chief of the Siksika u00a0Nation is a friend of mine.nnThese natives believe that they only GOT HERE first, they never STARTED LIFE in North America/nnLife started in Africa,Natives (Nomadic People Like The DENA) came across the land bridge from ASIA ,making Native Indians ..actually ASIANSu00a0

      1. thats what your white man books try and make us first nation people believe, its based on a white man’s theory on how we got here, there again them telling us where we came from, and not listening to us to hear our stories on where we came from. If the white man knows everthing how come he does not tell the truth? You teach our childern lies, how to feel ashamed of one’s self, you teach our children to be something thats is only acceptable to your way of life, you can keep going on believing the lies you hear cause that is ok for you, give us our children back, to be raised and educated by us because we know the truth, and the truth will set you free, we want to be free of the whitman’s system to teach our people the right way our way.

        1. Okay please tell me how Humans started life in Northern North America ?nnWhy is Native hair like Asian hair ?nNothing is stopping your people from doing those things .nnTell Canadians you wish to be what you want to be WITHOUT saying GIVE US YOUR MONEY.nnnTeach your children,live where you want,obey the laws of the land, be sewlf sufficientnnI almost fell over today hearing Chief Spence say 4 houses haven’t been finished because the Gov’t didn’t give them funds for them.nnTo her I say YOU ARE A LIAR, you waste the money you getnnYou got 90$ Million over 3 years. good grief woman where is the money going and why so many native snouts u00a0in the trough ?nnWhy do you keep coming to the gov’t u00a0to help…HELP YOURSELVES for cripes sakes 58 % are under 25..do NONE of them know how to do any kind of construction or do they have to be paid a $1 Million u00a0day ?u00a0

  15. Here is something to contemplate.nnThink about what you can do to CONTRIBUTE to Canadian society as whole and not just be a gang of people going after more Canadian taxpayer money.nnCanadians think you have this mentality of TAKE TAKE TAKE .nnu00a0

    1. Error: it is “Canadian society” that has robbed the natives. To think otherwise one would have to refuse to think, or, in other words, one would have to be an idiot. The natives within Canada’s borders have been robbed of more than they will ever get back. The money our government was supposed to pay them for rent of their unceded territories alone would sustain them, if they actually received all of that money. It’s sad that someone would write “Here is something to contemplate…” and then state some blathering ignorance that obviously required no forethought.u00a0

      1. Do you know where the government gets money? It’s from the taxpayers! And if the ‘rent’ were to be of a value that would actually sustain natives, it would be a ridiculously large amount that would nearly bankrupt every non-native taxpayer. Unfortunately you yourself are perpetuating the ‘take take take’ mentality.nNot to continue the chain of childish insults, but one would have to be a real idiot not to see that.

      2. omg witch is the same god, yep there will be a revolt, but it won’t be from me eventhough they have afile bout me lol, i am twenty years out off the loop lol

    2. Could you elaborate on what they should contribute? Also, who are these npeople you are refering to? And are you speaking on be half of all nCanadaians when you claim that we all have this same mentality towards nwhom you speak of?

    3. Could you elaborate on what they should contribute? Also, who are these npeople you are refering to? And are you speaking on be half of all nCanadaians when you claim that we all have this same mentality towards nwhom you speak of?

    4. Contribute?u00a0 You mean like virtually the whole of their useable land?u00a0 Pretty ballsy to say what you did considering what has been taken and taken and taken from First Nations people over Canada’s history…u00a0 up to and including their children.nnThink before you typenn

    5. Contribute?u00a0 You mean like virtually the whole of their useable land?u00a0 Pretty ballsy to say what you did considering what has been taken and taken and taken from First Nations people over Canada’s history…u00a0 up to and including their children.nnThink before you typenn

    6. This country was founded on “take take take” and that’s what the problem is, the government took aboriginal land and attempted to exterminate their culture. Harper may have apologized on behalf of the government for the wrongs they did against first nations, but, that’s like me telling you you have to live where I say and speak the language that I say and take anything that ever gave you a sense of identity away. Would you forgive me if I apologized even though you will have to work all your life to reclaim what was rightfully yours to begin with? And when you try to reach an agreement to settle the grievances with me, I tell you I have other things to worry about and to talk with someone else with your problems. Try walking in someones shoes before you make an assumption about them. Don’t bother replying to this comment, I have better things to do, take it up with someone else.

    7. here;s something to contemplate. the ONLY people that are actually Canadians, that have a historical right to this country are first nations people. So the only people that are take take take are all the white colonizers who stole stole stole this land. nnIf you don’t like it I suggest you go back to where your parents or grandparents came from.

    8. OMG Mil1ion, are you for real?u00a0 Canadian taxpayer money?u00a0 You live on STOLEN land!u00a0 Canada has a system of Apartheid, systemic racism, has enacted policies of genocide to “get rid” of the “Indian problem” and you talk about greed?u00a0 I am ashamed for you!nnAnd if I prayed, I’d pray for you, too, pray for you to open a book, read a few websites and contemplate more thoroughly what this is really about — for ALL Treaty people.u00a0 That’s First Nations peoples and whiteys like you and me, too.

    9. Then Canadians are ignorant of the truth and they should EDUCATE EDUCATE EDUCATE themselves on Aboriginal issues.

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