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Message From Arthur Manuel Re Afn-pm Meeting

Message From Arthur Manuel Re Afn-pm Meeting

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Published by Russell Diabo

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Published by: Russell Diabo on Jan 14, 2013
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MESSAGE FROM ARTHUR MANUELSpokesperson, Defenders of the Land andIndigenous Network on Economies & TradeFormer Chief Neskonlith Indian Band, Secwepemc NationJanuary 13, 2013CONSOLIDATING AROUND THE WEAKEST POSITION
Dear Harsha & Russell:It is clear that the AFN again consolidated around the weakest again. Needless to saythe stronger elements of the AFN, who did not want meet did not attend the meeting,but the ones who wanted to meet did meet. Decision making in the name of the AFN isnot designed for fighting government but merely consulting with government. That ishow the weak elements take control in a controversial situation we had in Ottawa lastweek.The National Chief obviously is responsible for what his Office does in these kinds ofsituations. One thing is clear is that certain Indigenous leaders only know how to meetwith with government and not fight with government. In situations like yesterday theysay that it is important to "engage" with government when they open the door todiscussion. The real problem is that you get sucked into basically supporting thegovernment's position unless you walk out. In this case it is just another "process" andnot "change in policy" that the AFN left the room with.The "opportunists" will say that if we did not "engage" we would not have this "process"but the process does not offer any guarantee that Harper's unilateral policies will bereversed or replaced with policies supportive to Aboriginal and Treaty Rights. There isbasically a "fundamental change" that Harper must make before "engaging" with Harpercould be useful. The Harper government does not recognize Aboriginal and TreatyRights on the ground. Indigenous Peoples believe in Aboriginal and Treaty Rights onthe ground.That is the "fundamental difference". Harper must recognize Aboriginal and TreatyRights on the ground before we can engage. The engagement in this case will bebased how do we divide up decision making regarding "access and benefits" to ourAboriginal and Treaty territories. To try and engage and negotiate with oppositedifferences on "recognition" and "extinguishment" is dangerous and will go no where.That is why the negotiation under the federal Comprehensive Land Claims Policy and
British Columbia Treaty Process has cost us 20 years of Go-No-Where negotiationsplus those who negotiated taking crippling loans of about $500 million dollars.We need to always be careful when establishing "processes" with government, like theone initiated on Friday. The government has lots of time and money to negotiate. It isthe Indigenous Peoples who get hurt by Go-No-Where and undermining processes.Some Indigenous Leaders actually just negotiate to "create processes" becauseprocesses equals getting a "jobs and money" because processes also "includegovernment funding pots". These kinds of leaders I call "Opportunists" because theytake advantage of "pressure created" by Chief Theresa Spence hunger strike and the"Idle No More" (INM) to get meetings with Harper on Friday. The Opportunist then pusha process and get there pot of money. Kind like a political Slot-Machine for Indigenouspoliticians and consultants.In BC I think the INM has to seriously question the First Nations Leadership Council,First Nation Summit, the BC Assembly of First Nations and especially the Union of BCIndian Chiefs. I highlight the UBCIC because when the Union was under the leadershipof my dad and brother it was for the people. I know that Grand Chief Stewart Phillip,president of the UBCIC was not at the meeting but I think that he should be clear howthis meeting will affect his participation in the BC First Nation Leadership Council andthe First Nation Summit.I know that the small BC delegation of leaders at the AFN Ottawa session led the way togoing to the PM meeting. That reflects on all us here in BC, even the grassroots.Indigenous Peoples at the INM have to let the leadership know who are in charge. Ihave been spending years trying to get the federal Comprehensive Land Claims Policychanged and the government's first line of defense are the Indigenous Peoples who arenegotiating. I know when my father was president of the National Indian Brotherhoodand the Union of BC Indian Chiefs our enemies where white bureaucrats in DIA. Nowthey are Indigenous leaders and groups that have decided to adopt federal policies,processes and take money from the government with strings attached.The INM is a means to reverse this kind of decision making system that has beenimposed on us by the government funding programs. I know the media has the pictureall mixed-up because they do not understand a lot of powerful forces are pulling atIndigenous Peoples, like Recognition of Aboriginal and Treaty Rights, Economic-Racism and Systemic-Poverty, Government Funded Programs and Services, Lack ofSelf-government and Human Rights. Nothing was agreed to in Ottawa but to drag outour frustrations on these matters at a higher level. No fundamental change was agreedto. INM therefore is still the only effective voice of the Indigenous Peoples. I thank all

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