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Statement on the situation at Six Nations-Caledonia

Assembly of First Nations
June 15, 2006

[SISIS note: The following statement is provided for reference only. Inclusion of this article on our site should not be considered an endorsement by SISIS.]

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Phil Fontaine issued the following statement today on the current situation at Six Nations-Caledonia:

“The Assembly of First Nations commends the Haudenosuanee/Six Nations Confederacy for their show of goodwill and good faith in removing barricades in the vicinity of Six Nations-Caledonia. This move has resulted in all parties returning to the table for negotiations which we understand will resume today. We maintain, as we have from the beginning, that respectful dialogue and negotiations is the right way to resolve these issues.

We caution against any calls by the public, politicians or media for the use of aggressive action. This will only serve to increase  tensions and could de-rail a peaceful resolution to this situation.  First Nations and Canadians across the country are watching the events and developments at Six Nations-Caledonia.  Peaceful resolution will send the right message that we can work together to find solutions that are fair and just.

Saying that the law must prevail in Caledonia and across Canada also means dealing with the legitimate, lawful claims of First Nations in a manner that is fair and just.  As negotiations resume it is my understanding that a planting ceremony will be held at the Burch facility, on land that will be returned to the Six Nations.  We wish all parties involved in the resolution of these issues a good harvest, as well as good thoughts, good hearts and good minds in their negotiations.”

Phil Fontaine
National Chief
Assembly of First Nations

Attachment: Caledonia and the “Rule of Law" (see below)


Don Kelly, AFN Communications Director
613-241-6789 ext. 320 or cell 613-292-2787

Ian McLeod, AFN Bilingual Communications Officer
613-241-6789 ext. 336 or cell 613-859-4335

Caledonia and the "Rule of Law"

It has been said that the rule of law must prevail. But the rule of law in this case is about more than protecting people and property, as important as that is. The fundamental legal issue here is First Nations land claims. Land claims are legal matters and lawful obligations. They are unfinished business between First Nations and Canada.

Unfortunately, the current federal claims process is painfully slow and inherently unjust. Canada acts as judge and jury, deciding what is and is not a valid claim, what is on the table for negotiations and then negotiating the claim against itself.

The result is a process that is agonizingly slow. It takes an average of 10 years for a single specific claim to make its way through the system. There are at least 1,100 specific claims before Canada. About 300 of these have been validated, which means they can begin their long, slow march through the system.

Comprehensive land claims are generally more complex and take even more time. According to the Auditor General they take, on average, 29 years – almost three decades - to resolve.

We need a better process to resolve claims, one that is effective, fair and efficient. In 1998, a Joint AFN-Federal Task Force on Claims issued a report with recommendations to create a better process, one that is truly independent, faster and more cost-effective.  It had the support of First Nations and federal representatives. All that is needed is the political will to institute this process.

It is in all our interests to establish a new way to resolve claims. Doing so will provide First Nations a solid foundation to build our economies and improve our quality of life, provide government and industry the certainty they need to get on with their business, and provide a climate of hope and optimism for all Canadians.

Phil Fontaine
National Chief
Assembly of First Nations

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