To: The Federal Government
Return lands, waters and resources to First Nations, and address outstanding treaty obligations
Pamela Palmater writes:
"What is needed here is to declare a national state of emergency and establish a tripartite emergency measures team. This issue must be treated like the public health crisis that it is. Because the health that is at risk is that of First Nations people, First Nations have to be at the forefront of the emergency plan to address the situation. Every resource should be brought to bear to get running water and sewer service to those First Nations without them, and to ensure safe water for those who have running water. There is no reason why Canada, the provinces and First Nations cannot lead an emergency plan to have this done within 18 to 24 months. If Trudeau can find $7 billion (plus operating and maintenance costs) to buy a pipeline, he can find the same amount to ensure that First Nations have access to clean water and sanitation. This is a basic human right."
"At the same time, it is critically important to address the other policy issue: federal control over First Nations. First Nations’ jurisdiction to govern themselves must be recognized in a substantive way. Returning lands, waters and resources to First Nations, as well as addressing outstanding treaty obligations, would go a long way to ensuring that First Nations have sustainable governments. Canada needs to get out of the business of governing First Nations. Running that business means skimming funding off the top of monies appropriated for First Nations by Parliament each year, in order to fund the thousands of employees who work at Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada and their communications, security, water, buildings and other infrastructure. There is no reason why funds for First Nations can’t be transferred directly to First Nations to manage their own programs and services — including the funding owed from treaty obligations not yet honoured."
Why is this important?
"The water crisis was created by Canada and has been maintained by Canada for decades, with devastating but predictable outcomes. This form of racism has real-life consequences for First Nations. It’s time to make all those land acknowledgements mean something. It’s time to start living by the spirit of the treaties: mutual respect, mutual protection and mutual benefit. It’s time to show a real sign of good faith and end the water crisis on reserves now. It’s a matter of life and death for First Nations."
(Note: this petition was created by Yvonne Aburrow, quoting Pamela Palmater, Mi'kmaq lawyer, professor, activist and politician from Mi'kma'ki, New Brunswick, Canada.)