FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 21, 2007
(Vancouver – Coast Salish Territory, March 21, 2007) “As sure as spring follows winter, Stephen Harper's Budget 2007 shall trigger a summer of Aboriginal protests from one end of this country to the other," predicted Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs.
The rage and anger of Aboriginal leaders continues to reverberate across the country in the aftermath of the release of Harper's Budget 2007.
“In our view, this latest deliberate attack against Aboriginal people represents ‘strike three’ for the Harper government. First it was the complete rejection of the Kelowna Accord, second it was Canada's refusal to support the United Nations’ Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People and now we have the announcement of $21 million in new spending for Aboriginals in the face of a $9 billion dollar surplus” added Grand Chief Phillip.
“Enough is enough. Our communities have long since reached their breaking point” stated Grand Chief Phillip. “The internalized violence of poverty in terms of increasing infant mortalities, suicides, homicides, drug-related gang violence, child apprehensions and massive unemployment is dangerously close to flashing over to an outward expression of externalized violence in the form of roadblocks, rail blockades and more Caledonia-style occupations of disputed lands”
Grand Chief Phillip continued “Let's be clear. We do not need more Federal government welfare payments. What we do need is for the Government of Canada to fully meet its Constitutional and lawful obligations in the area outstanding land rights issues. We need the Government of Canada to take heed of the recently released Senate Report, entitled, ‘Negotiation or Confrontation: It’s Canada's Choice’ which outlines the over 1000 outstanding specific claims across Canada. We need the Government of Canada to recognize and accommodate our Aboriginal and Treaty entitlements to the Lands and Resources within our respective territories. Further, economic development needs to become a major priority within Federal Government spending. Currently, economic development represents only 4% of Federal Government Aboriginal program spending” stated Phillip.
“Obviously the Government of Canada is not listening. Perhaps a summer of barricades, balaclavas and burning tires will serve to draw attention to the urgency of the desperate situation of the Aboriginal people of Canada” concluded Grand Chief Stewart Phillip.
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For further comment:
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip
UBCIC is a NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.