FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 29, 2013
Flash mobs and blockades in support of the grassroots movement “Idle No More” have sprung up across Canada in protest against unilateral action laid out in the Conservative Government’s omnibus bills passed in 2012 (Bill C-38, C-45 and the Streams and Rivers Act). The Federal Government has completely rewritten its environmental protection laws. Additionally, the laws around the lease of land on Federal Indian Reserves were changed. When it comes to treaty rights and laws that affect lands, waters and wildlife, meaningful consultation must occur between Canada and its’ First Nations.
Unfortunately, no constructive discussion took place prior to these laws being tabled. Given the tenuous relationship between the Federal Government and First Nations across Canada a breakdown in communications was foreseeable. Huu-ay-aht First Nations as a government shares the same concerns as the Idle No More movement and appreciates the urgency and frustration that spur these protests. Idle No More is a movement dedicated to improving the lives of First Nations everywhere and we support those aims. However, the Huu-ay-aht First Nations does not support the blockading of roads or the disruption of local economies and feel that these actions hurt the overall perception of First Nations. Rhetoric, blockades and personal attacks solidify people in their opposing viewpoints rather than shock them into change. Instead, we voice our support for the Assembly of First Nations as an open channel to the Federal Government and our confidence in Shawn Atleo as the National Chief.
HFN’s position is that there are no shortcuts to meaningful relationship-building. The HFN is a part of the Maa-nulth Final Agreement, a modern treaty between five First Nations and the governments of British Columbia and Canada negotiated over fifteen years. The Maa-nulth treaty grants the HFN ownership of land; access to and control of resources; and strong powers of self-government. We have more tools to improve the lives of our citizens now than under any kind of federal oversight arrangement. Huu-ay-aht First Nations urges all Members of Parliament, regardless of political allegiance, to push for meaningful communications with First Nations at all levels: local, regional and federal. Additionally, the HFN urge all First Nations’ governments to consider long-term, strategic use of natural resources and treaty negotiations in their pursuit of change. Each party must remain faithful to their principles while being flexible where reasonable.