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OTTAWA, April 1 – Assembly of First Nations National Chief Phil Fontaine today demanded that the federal government immediately remove any reference to First Nations in a Department of National Defense draft counter-insurgency manual listing international terrorist threats. According to a report by The Globe and Mail, radical Native American organizations such as the Mohawk Warriors Society are listed in the training manual as insurgents, alongside other insurgent groups.
“Any reference to First Nations people as possible insurgents or terrorists is a direct attack on us – it demonizes us, it threatens our safety and security and attempts to criminalize our legitimate right to live our lives like all other Canadians do. Just being referenced in such a document compromises our freedom to travel across borders, have unimpeded telephone and internet communications, raise money, and protest against injustices to our people,” stated AFN National Chief Phil Fontaine. “I am calling upon Prime Minister Stephen Harper to immediately and without reservation, reject and remove any references to First Nations from all versions of the training manual.”
“It is shocking and outrageous to learn that the Canadian military would consider First Nations people as insurgents or equate us to Hezbollah or Hamas. Not only is there not a shred of evidence to make this link, First Nations have always served Canada well by their contributions to the Canadian services. Such absurd allegations only serve to undermine respect for the military and lead us to believe we will not be able to rely on their protection the way other Canadians do.”
Moreover, the federal government has also recently threatened that it would aggressively audit and possibly cut off funding provided to First Nations organizations who participate in, or support a peaceful National Day of Action on June 29th. This, taken with the report that we are included in the list of insurgent organisations in the military’s manual, raises serious questions about the federal government’s respect for freedom of speech and freedom of assembly for First Nations people. It appears that they want to silence us.
“The proposed June 29th National Day of Action is intended to bring focus to and generate awareness of the deplorable social – economic status of First Nations peoples in this country. Too often, First Nations poverty and the injustices suffered by our communities are not well understood. We aim to begin changing that by reaching out to Canadians and by putting our issues and our solutions front and center. First Nations people are people of integrity and we will abide by the rule of law while exercising our right to free speech,” said the National Chief.
The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada.
For further information: Bryan Hendry, A/Communications Director, (613) 241-6789, ext. 229, cell: (613) 293-6106, firstname.lastname@example.org; Nancy Pine, Communications Advisor, Office of the National Chief, (613) 241-6789, ext. 243, cell: (613) 298-6382, email@example.com
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