Six Nations Solidarity
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Cowichan Valley News Leader
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
[SISIS note: The following mainstream news article is provided for reference only, as an example of how mainstream media treats indigenous resistance to genocide. Mainstream media often presents biased and distorted information, lacking pertinent facts and/or context. Inclusion of this article on our site should not be considered an endorsement by SISIS.]
Unresolved land claims issues that led to an ongoing occupation in Caledonia bear a striking resemblance to land issues faced by the Cowichan Valley's First Nations, said Jean Crowder after meeting with band members in the Ontario community.
Cowichan-Ladysmith's MP met with hereditary chiefs, elders and other Six Nations members last week, before a botched police raid at a construction site that has been occupied by the band for nearly two months.
"People don't trust the process," Crowder, the NDP's aboriginal affairs critic, said of the meeting with elders. "They don't trust that anything is going to be resolved."
The same feeling of frustration runs through First Nations here, spurred by the government's refusal to create land banks - chunks of protected property that could be given to First Nations as compensation once claims are resolved.
Property in both Ontario and in B.C. is quickly being developed, leaving little land to resolve slow-moving claims, she points out.
In Question Period Monday Crowder pressed Jim Prentice, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, to move more quickly on land claims and to act on the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, which was put in place to prevent another Oka from happening.
She also called on him to move the Indian Claims Commission, which deals with land claim issues, out from under the ministry and make it an independent body.
But Prentice offered no commitment, saying only that the government was meeting with Six Nations members to develop a plan to bring the occupation to an end.
"In terms of Caledonia, it is our intention to move forward with appointing the necessary representatives to develop the work plan and to present it back to the parties," Prentice responded during Question Period.
"This is a difficult situation. I would request the forbearance and the wisdom and the patience of the House of Commons to have this resolved."
Unhappy with Prentice's response, Crowder has requested a follow-up session, a formal process done as the House adjourns. No date has been set for that.
"There was no one else in the House asking about it and that was surprising," she said. "Caledonia is only one situation in this country and it's a flashpoint."
Though she downplayed comparisons to fatal standoffs in Oka, Quebec in 1990 and Ipperwash, Ontario in September 1995, Crowder notes the conflict has sparked "spontaneous" gestures of solidarity from the Mohawk First Nation, where members blocked railroad tracks late last week as a show of support for Six Nations.
"I'm monitoring the situation and if I'm able to contribute something I'll return," said Crowder.