First Nations Women Chiefs and Councilors are mad as hell with Crown government interference in our lives and we’re not going to take it anymore. For the first time in modern history, First Nation Women Chiefs and Councilors, from all across Canada, gathered in unity at the Assembly of First Nations National Forum for First Nation Women Chiefs (“Forum”) in Vancouver, British Columbia on February 12-14, 2007. First Nations Women Chiefs and Councilors express their overwhelming concern and frustration with the current situation facing First Nations communities, families and children.
This Statement represents the unanimous voice of the Women Chiefs and Councilors present at the Forum to address critical issues affecting our Nations, families and our future to compel change and make progress.
The following statements were adopted by the First Nation Women Chiefs and Councilors:
- First Nations Women Chiefs and Councilors honor the spirit and intent of the original relationship between First Nations and the British Crown to live in peaceful co-existence, without interference, and to uphold the unceded Inherent authorities given to us by the Creator.
- First Nations in Canada are Nations with pre-existing collective rights, responsibilities, languages, cultures, territories and laws.
- We maintain our authority to be the law-makers and caretakers of our Nations, our families and our land. First Nation holistic laws will continue to guide our decision making in the face of any and all federal, provincial and territorial legislation. The Crown continues to breach this original compact and interfere with this Inherent jurisdiction, thereby creating and perpetuating poverty conditions amongst our peoples.
- Our collective Inherent and Treaty rights must not be diminished or adversely impacted in the development of federal, provincial and territorial law and policy.
- The First Nations Women Chiefs and Councilors will stand with First Nations governments to advance a comprehensive plan for accountability of all governments, the protection of collective rights and to eradicate poverty and social injustice.
- First Nations Women Chiefs and Councilors will ensure that our lands, families and children are cared for; ensure that our rights are respected and upheld; and we will be responsible for the decisions that affect our lives. We will not relinquish our rights at the expense of our lands, families and future.
- Negotiations and consultations regarding any federal, provincial or territorial initiatives that impact pre-existing Inherent First Nation jurisdictions and Treaty rights must take place with leadership of First Nations governments.
- Solutions can be achieved locally, regionally, and nationally by working collectively. First Nations Women Chiefs and Councilors call upon the Government of Canada to work together with First Nations to co-create a new future for all our people.
- The cycle of poverty, violence, lack of access to quality health care and education, and the non-recognition of Inherent First Nations jurisdiction continue to be perpetuated in federal genocide and assimilationist policies and approaches.
- First Nation Women Chiefs and Councilors are united to oppose attempts by the federal government to unilaterally impose legislation and policy such as its initiatives currently reflected in the matrimonial real property process, and the repeal of section 67 of the Canadian Human Rights Act. These federal initiatives that diminish or adversely impact upon our unceded Inherent authorities will be rejected.
- We will accomplish this through collective action that supports systemic change. We will stand with the leadership of First Nation governments to advance a comprehensive plan for accountability of all governments; the protection of collective rights; and to eradicate poverty and social injustice in our communities.