NEWS RELEASE · 27th April 2011
Jack Layton’s New Democrat team launched their Aboriginal Platform today, pledging to work nation-to-nation to build new opportunities for First Nations, Inuit and Métis people.
“We have heard the voices of Elders, of political and business leaders, of educators and professionals, and of concerned Canadians in First Nation, Inuit and Métis communities,” said Loring-Kuhanga. “It is well past time to apply the wisdom and traditional knowledge of Canada’s Aboriginal peoples to bring more sustainable solutions to Canada’s current challenges. We have a responsibility and an obligation to do better than the governments of the past.”
“The Aboriginal Platform shows our commitment to social justice and the core of our values as New Democrats,” said Loring-Kuhanga. “We know that Aboriginal people are the fastest growing group of people in the country and the future health of Canada relies on the equitable participation of all. We know that Canada will benefit by supporting First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples in realizing their aspirations.”
A New Democrat government will meet the focus on four key areas:
Forging a New Partnership with First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples;
Fostering Economic Opportunity and Lasting Prosperity;
Ending the Discrimination still faced by Aboriginal People in Canada; and,
Supporting the Process of Healing the Harms of Past Injustices.
“By moving in these four directions, New Democrats seek to help restore a central element of social justice in Canada and reconcile the hopes of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people with those of all Canadians,” said Loring-Kuhanga.
THE PLATFORM RELEASED TODAY
AN AGENDA FOR JUSTICE AND HOPE
The New Democratic Party believes that Canada benefits when we honour and respect each other. Through support for our neighbours, we help unleash their potential and through their efforts, our lives are made better. This is the core of social justice and the core of our values as New Democrats. This is our hope for Canada.
New Democrats know that the full capacity of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples to help make Canada a better place has been suppressed throughout our history as a country. We know that Indigenous knowledge allowed the first settlers to survive in a challenging environment. We know the resources of this land built our economy. We also know that Aboriginal people form the youngest and fastest growing demographic in the country and that the future health of our economy relies on the equitable participation of these young people in it. We know that Canada will benefit through supporting First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples in realizing their aspirations.
New Democrats also recognize that Canada has failed to truly honour and respect the original inhabitants of this land and, as a result, we see Canada’s greatest social injustice in the circumstances of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples today.
We have heard the voices of Elders, of political and business leaders, of educators and professionals, of ordinary First Nation, Inuit and Métis citizens, and of concerned Canadians in communities from sea to sea to sea. We do not claim to have all the answers, but we seek to understand the meaning of our common past and how we must move forward together in the present to build our common future. We know that First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples must be full participants at the tables where decisions are made. We share a vision of reconciliation between Aboriginal people and other Canadians from which we all will benefit.
When the first newcomers interacted with the people that were already on this land we call Canada, they did so on a nation-to-nation basis. The settlers survived here with the help of those who were here before them. They shared the benefits of the land. Together, they formed partnerships that were respectful and honourable. This was the spirit behind the treaties. But the colonial powers unilaterally changed that relationship, through policies of segregation and then assimilation. Policies without respect or honour. Policies of social injustice that have been disastrous failures. The result is lived out in Aboriginal communities across the country – in grinding poverty and its resulting health and social ills – every day.
With half of Canada’s Aboriginal population under the age of 25, it is time to invest in Aboriginal youth; not only to improve the lives of Aboriginal people but to improve economic outcomes across the country. It is well past time to apply the wisdom and traditional knowledge of Canada’s Aboriginal peoples to bring more sustainable solutions to Canada’s current challenges. We have a responsibility and an obligation to do better. We cannot afford to continue to fail.
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples sets out standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of Indigenous populations around the world. It has strong support from First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples across Canada and a New Democrat motion to adopt the Declaration was passed in the House of Commons in 2008. But Stephen Harper has disgraced Canada by failing to accept its principles and enact them. Canada must do better to honour and respect Indigenous peoples.
A New Democrat government will meet the standards set out by the UN by:
1. Forging a New Partnership with First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples;
2. Fostering Economic Opportunity and Lasting Prosperity;
3. Ending the Discrimination still faced by Aboriginal People in Canada; and,
4. Supporting the Process of Healing the Harms of Past Injustices.
By moving in these four directions, New Democrats seek to help restore a central element of social justice in Canada and reconcile the hopes of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people with those of all Canadians.
A NEW DEMOCRAT GOVERNMENT WILL PURSUE ITS AGENDA OF JUSTICE AND HOPE BY
1. Forging a New Partnership
To build a relationship based on mutual respect between Canada’s government and Aboriginal peoples, we will forge a nation-to-nation partnership by:
∙∙Immediately ratifying the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We will ensure its provisions are properly respected in Canada and incorporated into Canadian law;
∙∙Implementing existing agreements, particularly treaties, with honour;
∙∙Accelerating the settlement of self-government agreements where Aboriginal communities seek them;
∙∙Respecting inherent Aboriginal and treaty rights and supporting Aboriginal communities in their relationships with the Crown;
∙∙Legally recognizing the legitimacy and jurisdiction of Indigenous governments. This will include engagement in full consultations to give respect to Aboriginal communities’ rights over their own membership;
∙∙Developing a comprehensive claims policy that genuinely respects Aboriginal title;
∙∙Ensuring equitable participation of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples and governments in Canada’s stewardship of the environment and resources, and on appropriate boards, commissions and international delegations;
∙∙Restructuring Indian and Northern Affairs Canada as recommended in the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples in 1996.
2. Fostering Economic Opportunity and Lasting Prosperity
To support Aboriginal people in achieving their personal and collective aspirations and to continue Canada’s economic growth, we will foster new opportunities by:
∙∙Investing in improvements to education and training for First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and adults. Working with all partners, our goal will be to achieve educational attainment for Aboriginal people comparable to others in Canada inspired by Shannen’s dream;
∙∙Enhancing access to capital and small business development so that First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people can establish sustainable local economies and fully participate in the Canadian economy;
∙∙Removing barriers to local control over Aboriginal business development;
∙∙Supporting First Nations, Inuit and Métis participation in resource management decision-making and resource revenue sharing;
∙∙Improving physical infrastructure, housing, drinking water, sewage, roads and other services that are essential to economic development;
∙∙Addressing the health care needs of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people, especially those relating to chronic diseases that particularly affect Aboriginal people;
∙∙Investing in human capital and physical infrastructure in the North as the best means of guaranteeing Canadian sovereignty;
∙∙Addressing the needs of urban First Nations, Métis and Inuit citizens with special attention to the appropriate development and delivery of affordable housing, public health care, education, skills training, as well as the development of economic and employment opportunities.
Between 2007 and 2010, the three-year average dropout rate among First Nations people living off-reserve, Métis and Inuit aged 20 to 24 was 22.6%, compared with 8.5% for non-Aboriginal people. Among young off-reserve First Nations people (North American Indians), the dropout rate was 25.8%, and for Métis, 18.9%. (Statcan, November 3, 2010)
A NEW RELATIONSHIP
3. Ending Discrimination
To bring down the barriers that prevent progress and overcome impediments to equity for Aboriginal peoples, we will end ongoing discrimination by:
∙∙Removing the punitive 2% funding cap on Indian and Northern Affairs Canada transfers to First Nations that was instituted by the Liberals and maintained by the Harper Conservatives;
∙∙Ending current funding inequities between federal services to First Nations and provincial or territorial services to Canadians, beginning with Child and Family Services and education;
∙∙Engaging with First Nations, Métis, and Inuit women and appropriate organizations to ensure that their rights and personal safety are assured;
∙∙Implementing Jordan’s Principle to guarantee First Nations children are not hurt by jurisdictional disputes between governments;
∙∙Working with local child service organizations to reduce the number of Aboriginal children in care;
∙∙Enabling Aboriginal communities to develop restorative justice and healing practices that offer Indigenous youth better opportunities and choices. As it costs approximately $100,000 a year to keep a person in the corrections system and only $25,000 a year to deal with them in preventative justice programs, this policy will save money immediately while providing better long-term results.
4. Healing the Past
To heal the wounds of the past, we will ensure proper resources and support are available to Aboriginal peoples by:
∙∙Supporting the Aboriginal Healing Foundation and ensuring that Residential School survivors left out by the current agreement are fairly compensated;
∙∙Supporting the efforts of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities to renew Indigenous languages in this generation, by developing and improving language curricula and developing a corps of those able to help teach Indigenous languages with improved funding for language training;
∙∙Investing in urban friendship centres that are the focal point of integration into the urban social fabric for many Aboriginal people;
∙∙Working with the provinces, human rights commissions and others to promote anti-racism education in all applicable venues;
∙∙Supporting initiatives to celebrate each June as National Aboriginal History Month.
If educational and labour market outcomes of Aboriginal Canadians in 2026 reach the non-Aboriginal outcome levels of 2001, the annual output would be $36.5 billion higher, tax revenue would be $3.5 billion higher and government spending for social programs would go down by $14.2 billion.
(Centre for the Study of Living Standards, May 2009)
Should get interesting.....soon.
Comment by Janice P. Robinson on 31st May 2011
I acknowledge "Team Layton," for their concern, and hope the best for their efforts.
May I humbly suggest, to Mr. Layton, that he STOP referring to me/us as "aboriginals."
That is a good place to start.