(Coast Salish Territory/Vancouver, April 5, 2006) The Union of BC Indian Chiefs responded today to the Throne Speech of the Government of Canada, stating that they fear that the government will not effectively honour the commitments made at the First Ministers Meeting in Kelowna and the agreement on residential schools.
“Based on the glaring absence of any significant reference to Aboriginal issues, I believe the Government of Canada lacks the political will to implement the hard fought historic agreement representing a $5.1 billion dollar investment commitment to Aboriginal communities, made at the Kelowna First Ministers Meeting on Aboriginal issues on November 25, 2005” declared Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs.
“First Nations have heard from different ministers such as Minister of Indian Affairs Jim Prentice, who continue to state that this government supports the many issues facing First Nations” said Chief Phillip, “but we have yet to hear publicly a similar commitment from Prime Minister Harper.”
“As First Nations leadership, we will hold the government accountable with respect of the commitments made in Kelowna and the agreement on Residential Schools. These agreements can serve to begin to address the huge socio-economic gap, serving as viable models of a mutually beneficial approach of respect and reconciliation between the Government of Canada and First Nations rather than the bleak reality of conflict and confrontation” stated Chief Phillip.
Chief Phillip observed, “Like many First Nations leadership, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs will await the federal budget to get a true bearing of the government's commitment to collaborative approaches and results. If this government reneges on the commitments made in Kelowna and on Residential Schools, it will represent the opening salvo of what may be a protracted series of confrontations across Canada. Simply put, it will be – “Back to the Barricades’.”
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Chief Stewart Phillip