Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Canadian First Nations Leader Claims Treaty Not Respected

England's Prince Edward met with Canadian First Nations leaders to mark the 100th anniversary of The James Bay Treaty. The historic treaty, signed by Prince Edward's great-great grandfather, created a peaceful alliance between the British Crown and First Nations people across much of the province of Ontario. "It is a great honour to be here in the centenary year of that treaty, basically a treaty from my family to the peoples of the First Nations," said Prince Edward. Grand Chief Stan Beardy of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation told Prince Edward that treaty is not being respected. "Our forefathers made treaty on a nation-to-nation basis to co-exist peacefully in our homelands," Beardy said. He said that while the treaty generated prosperity and wealth in parts of Ontario and Canada, many indigenous northern communities suffer from terrible poverty, illiteracy and suicide rates. "I think (Ontarians) need to know what's happening to us, their treaty partners..." he said. "My people are suffering. Some of my communities are still using outhouses. This is the year 2005. We've had people walk on the moon and yet my people are still using outhouses. A lot of them can't even access basic education. That has to change." The United Nations ranks living standards in the region as squarely in the Third World category, with extremely low levels of literacy and terribly high levels of suicide.

If Canada is to be ranked high on a list of the best places to live in this world, I think the areas where our First Nations people live must be taken care of. They have a rich culture that we should be proud of. For more information on First Nations culture, see Native Canadian First Nations Articles.

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