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NEWS RELEASE · 28th February 2013
Arthur Manuel
Dear Friends:
Just wanted to draw your attention to this "National Land Claims Agreements Coalition Conference" our National Chief will be addressing . You know Albert Einstein once said that insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting different results.

That is like signing Indian Treaties with Canada. It is bad enough that Canada does not recognize and implement the old treaties they signed with us, therefore the real question is why should we be signing new treaties with Canada. That is insanity if in the process you extinguish your Aboriginal Title and Rights.

This Coalition is between all the Indigenous organizations who recently signed agreements with Canada. These agreements are in fact the result of the present Comprehensive Land Claims Policy that present Senior Officials Committee (SOC) are discussing to revamp so more modern treaties can be signed.

The modern treaties are the government's first line of defence for the existing extinguishment policy. In fact the first line of defence exists inside our own Indigenous organizations and not between our organizations and the federal government. Indeed, Indigenous Peoples who do not want to extinguish their Aboriginal Title and Rights must organize outside the existing organizations in order to develop an effective strategy to defeat the federal governments policy to extinguish our Aboriginal Title and Rights and assimilate us.

The contradictions inside this AFN press release are very clear. The AFN has a mountain of resolutions in which we stand behind government recognition of our Aboriginal and Treaty Rights. Nevertheless, these resolutions are swept under the carpet when the AFN decides to praise the modern treaties as being good examples, despite the they extinguish our Aboriginal Title and Rights.

The AFN should be very careful about sending mixed signals to the federal government. On the one hand you meet with Harper and set up SOC yet the Coalition represents the group of Indigenous Peoples who agreed to extinguish our title and rights. In fact the AFN should be more concerned about the Indigenous Peoples who have deliberately refused to negotiate under the existing extinguishment policy, and want it changed, instead of implicitly saying the policy is okay because the modern treaties are good agreements.

The grassroots should keep a close eye on the National Land Claims Agreements Coalition because that body is Canada's high water mark in making land agreements. We must exceed that so called high water mark and force Canada to establish a new policy based on recognition and affirmation of Aboriginal Title and Rights on the ground forever.

Arthur Manuel is the son of the founder of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, George Manuel

Who was George Manuel?

From 1950 to 1959 Manual travelled the Province uniting all the Indian peoples using a loosely organized group the Aboriginal Rights Committee. During this time he met with Native Brotherhood and the Nisga’a and proclaimed

“Our most pressing needs are the Indian Land Question and the settlement of Indian Claims. These questions are of equal concern to all Indians of our province, regardless of our cultural background, regardless of whether we live in the Interior, along the Pacific Coast, or in the timberlands of the north.”

In 1963 Manuel resigned from the NAIB and joined the Native Brotherhood stating;

“I have decided to join the ranks of those Indians who have the desire to see provincial unity for all the Indians of B.C."

In 1964 the Sunshine Coast Tribal Council and the Southern Vancouver Island Tribal Federation was formed for the Coast Salish Bands. These groups all had the Native Brotherhood as their common foundational base. Many members of these new organizations were also members of the Native Brotherhood.

In 1965 the Federal Government began to address the land claims issue by setting up the Indian Land Claims Commission and offered money to assist the Indians in their efforts.

In 1966 an organizational meeting was held by Manuel to bring all the different Indian groups together called the Confederation of Native Indians of British Columbia (CNIBC). They were virtually all united in their opposition to the Federal Governments Land Claims Commission.

This new organization was in response to the Minister of Indian Affairs, Arthur Laing. Laing wanted to see an organization representing 75% of all BC Indians if he was to deal directly with BC Indians on Land Claims. Manuel was largely successful in bringing all the BC Indians together under one umbrella.

In 1967 and into the spring of 1968 Calder developed a competing “Unity Constitution” separate from the CNIBC and promoted it during various meetings.

On February 3, 1968, Calder and Williams presented it in Vancouver and it was vigorously opposed. They did not have copies to distribute and simply read it out. The vote was to not approve it but to take it back to the various bands for discussion.

On February 10, 1968, while meeting with another group in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, Calder and Williams issued a press release stating it was approved.

On February 13, 1968, a protest meeting was held in Vancouver where Philip Paul stated:

“Every chief and band Councillor in BC should be heard by the Land Claims Commission. And they should be allowed to elect leaders who will not manipulate them to serve their own ends. The elected leaders ... should not commit themselves to any political party. At the present time we are victims of politicians.”

After this Nanaimo meeting the presidents of the various organizations who sided with Calder and Williams were replaced however the betrayal had long lasting and deep impacts. Only George Manual, a professed non-Christian, who did not participate in the Nanaimo treachery continued to lead BC Indians in a unified manner.

Guy Williams was rewarded by being appointed a senator and received a doctorate from SFU. Calder continued as an MLA becoming a Cabinet Minister in 1972 receiving numerous awards of recognition from the governments.

George Manuel went on to form the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, which once again was infiltrated and used by governments offering doctorates, appointments and rewards for the Indians willing to sell out their own people and land.

The UBCIC is now the justification, provides legitimacy, for the AFN.