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WENDAKE, QC, – Sept. 29 – Prime Minister Harper’s statement denying colonialism in Canada made to the press last Friday at the G20 Summit in Pittsburgh is an insult and injurious statement to all First Nations and Indigenous people in Canada. While gloating about Canada’s economic situation at a press conference, Prime Minister Harper said, “We also have no history of colonialism”, referring to Canada. “We cannot remain silent when such false statements are made. In fact society has a responsibility to denounce such misleading statements. Denying the history of colonialism in Canada is like denying the holocaust” said Chief Ghislain Picard of the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador (AFNQL).A simple search on Google on “Canada and colonialism” would certainly deny PM Harper’s statement. What can be more colonial than a system where the original inhabitants have been removed from the land and forced to live on plots of land that are often the size of a postage stamp. There can be no other term than a colonialist regime when a constitution of a country is drawn up and the original inhabitants are excluded and made wards of the state, with no citizenship.
Legislation such as the Indian Act with policies of registering the Indigenous population for purposes of control have established a long standing colonial relationship of a racist, exploitative and coercive nature by the dominant settler population and their governments.
The government of Canada faces the Human Rights Commission and the Supreme Court of Canada for violation of the rights of Indigenous people in Canada. Canada was cited no less than 38 times for the same reasons at its Universal Periodic review at the United Nations on February 3rd 2009. Canada’s continued restrictive legislation and policies as well as the persistent and consistent underfunding of First Nations economy, housing, health, education, while heavily investing in these areas for the non-Indigenous dominant population is on record and a clear testament to the continuing refinement of a colonialist regime in Canada.
Canadian Heritage confirmed the precarious situation of Aboriginal languages over 20 years ago. Since Mr. Harper has come to power, we have seen the meagre programs for Aboriginal languages cut drastically. This is consistent with the extinguishment policies of colonial regimes as demonstrated by the admitted objectives of the residential schools which were, “to kill the Indian in the child”. Historical policies such as, “Belcher Declaration” that financially rewarded colonialists for scalps of Indigenous men, women and children, and the circulation of infected blankets are acts that were committed here in Canada.
Colonialism is alive and well in Canada and this can be seen very clearly in the province of Quebec where the federal and provincial governments are cooperating on initiatives to continue the exploitation of Indigenous territories that remain unconquered and unceded. Canada remains silent on the violation of the rights and titles of the Indigenous peoples and the exploitation of their territories but promotes the developments of these on the world stage.
“The tactics have changed, they are now more refined. The colonization of Indigenous lands and resources continues to this day and federal policy to that effect still denies our title, rights and treaties” adds Chief Picard.
The Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador (AFNQL) is a regional organization regrouping the First Nations Chiefs of Quebec and Labrador.
For further information: Alain Garon, Communications Officer, AFNQL, (418) 842-5020, Cell (418) 956-5720
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