Crisis with First Nations Worsens

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It could become another Oka

Worst by the minute

The crisis between Stephen Harper and Aboriginal Peoples is worsening by the day. Canadians are lining up on either side of the divide.

The Indians are blocking highways and railroads that cross their reserves. The police near Sarnia, Ont., have refused to intervene. For them, it's more of a conflict than a crime.

The news of the crisis has gone around the world in the newspapers, on television and on the Internet, in every imaginable language.

This has been going on ever since Harper came to power.

The Indians have taken Harper to court and won more often than not. It's as if even the judges are on the side of the Indians.  Rather it's the law and the Constitution that are on their side.

Harper has an army of bloggers who are faithful to him, and used the Internet and social media to discredit Theresa Spence, who is chief of the misery-ridden Attawapiskat reserve, located next to a swamp on James Bay, 700 kilometres north of Timmins, Ont.

Most columnists in newspapers seem to be siding with the Indians. Vincent Marissal of La Presse calls the the First Nations people  "Haitians of the North" and paints a discouraging picture.

The Europeans have a big interest in the way of life of our "Indians" and are eager  to see them whenever they visit Canada.

Right now the misery, poverty, sickness, malnutrition, alcoholism, and various other health problems of our First Nations people have struck a chord with Europeans.

The United Nations are especially concerned. The UN rapporteur on indigenous peoples, James Anaya, issued a statement last week denouncing the treatment of our First Nations peoples at the hands of Harper.

Anaya himself came to investigate the situation in Attawapiskat last year. He had nothing good to say about what he saw. Harper was furious that the UN was snooping around here inquiring into his affairs.

Shortly after that, the UN decided it did not want Canada to have a seat on the United Nations Security Council. It was one huge "snub" to the Canadian leader. Harper should have tried to solve the problems of indigenous peoples rather than letting things get as far as they did.

During the 24 hours before the Harper-First Nations summit last week, 33,000 Canadians signed petitions in favor of the First Nations.

It was organized by the 'Idle No More' Movement - set up by of four Indian women. Rallies took place in dozens of citiies in Canada and around the world.  Support came from thousands of students, women's groups in Quebec, as well as thousands of ordinary citizens.

Reluctantly, Stephen Harper finally agreed to demands by First Nations leaders for a top level meeting.

But Harper then announced he would attend only the first 30 minutes of the three hour meeting. There he goes again, the First Nations people said. But pressure was so great Harper relented and attended the entire meeting.

Not much came out of the meeting. Quebec at least had its ‘Paix des Braves' which went a long ways and left lasting benefits, but so far the same cannot be said of the federal summit with First Nations leaders last Friday.



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