"Start consultations," First Nations groups tell federal government

Mitch MacDonald
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Tiffany Sark speaks at a rally at Province House Friday. Concerns were raised about the omnibus Bill C-45 and hope to raise awareness of government actions that will impact on Mi’kmaq rights.

The federal government must consult with its citizens rather than forcing massive omnibus bills like Bill C-45 through Parliament, concerned members of P.E.I.'s aboriginal community said Friday during a protest at Province House.

Traditional aboriginal drums beats, soulful singing and signs of discontent were seen and heard loud and clear during the powerful attempt to send a message to the federal government.

Organizer Samantha Lewis, of Lennox Island, said the protest coincided with larger ones held Friday in Halifax and Cape Breton.

"A lot of us couldn't travel off Island to go and support them. We figured we could rally up some of our own people in P.E.I. and come together in unity at Province House," said Lewis.

Bill C-45, an omnibus budget bill, affects a number issues close to aboriginal community members, said Lewis. These include amendments to the Indian Act, and to legislation relating to environment, Reserve lands, waterways and the fishery.

 "It's impacting our rights in environment, our rights in fisheries, our Indian Act and our waterways and land," said Lewis. "All First Nations in Canada and, more specifically our leaders and grassroots people are not being properly consulted."

The protest saw speeches from individuals in P.E.I.'s aboriginal community.

While the rally wasn't organized by the Mi'kmaq Confederacy of P.E.I., a letter of support from the Confederacy was read aloud to protesters.

"(The Confederacy) is very supportive of aboriginal community members expressing their concern and raising awareness of government actions that will impact on Mi'kmaq rights," said a release from the confederacy to media.

The protest also saw drummers from both the Lennox Island based New Generation Singers and Scotchfort's Lone Cry Singers perform throughout the afternoon.

Gilbert Sark, drum keeper for the New Generation Singers, said while the group hasn't participated in a protest since 1997, it felt it was important to attend the protest due to the size of the bill and how it impacts on all Canadians.

"It is infringing on a lot of First Nations, for that matter on a lot of Canadian people's rights," said Sark. "It (the protest) is basically to tell the government 'wake up and start the consultations'.

"When something like this comes up and you've got all of Canada from one coast to the other coast protesting, it's a big deal."

The protest has also aligned itself to a national campaign entitled Idle No More, which "calls on all people to join in a revolution which honors and fulfills Indigenous sovereignty which protects the land and water."

Lewis said more information on the movement can be found www.idlenomore1.blogspot.ca.

Organizations: First Nations, Province House, New Generation

Geographic location: P.E.I., Canada, Halifax Cape Breton

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Recent comments

  • don
    December 15, 2012 - 20:56

    why does cbc,the guardian,journal ask for comments when they only post a few. what about our rights of freedom of speech?

  • jrsplace
    December 15, 2012 - 18:25

    Deborah and ALMCC are right most first nations people that I have met on P.E.I. have been excellent good natured people with concerns the very same as most islanders . it is when they let local politicians and businessmen help them that some things go awry .

  • Moe
    December 15, 2012 - 13:57

    In this country we talk about equal rights and that is great except that we treat everybody differently. The natives get special treatment, gay people, minoritys, and even fishermen with EI...........We should all be treated the same as CANADIANS.

    December 15, 2012 - 10:53

    "Tim" and "AKenny"'s comments are racist, ignorant, and off topic. They have nothing to do with Bill C-45 and how it affects us all, our rights, our communities, and our relationship to the land. Myself, I'm thankful to our Mi'Kmaw allies for bringing this issue to our attention.

  • tim
    December 14, 2012 - 20:52

    It would be scarey for all those big salaries to be exposed. That would be discrimination for sure.

  • akenny
    December 14, 2012 - 19:46

    maybe first nations need to start working and paying taxes before they start whining about everything

    • Deborah
      December 15, 2012 - 09:40

      Get your facts straight, natives who work off reserve do pay taxes and most natives do work, like the rest of society there are those on welfare but not all people are lucky enough to find work, as is in the rest of socity. Natives have very well educated people, doctors, lawyers, trades people etc so until you know all the facts maybe you shouldn't be making such blanket statements