In preparation for Friday’s meeting between First Nations leaders and the Prime Minister, the Assembly of First Nations is holding information sessions today in Ottawa on Treaty rights and land claims.
Some see Friday’s meeting as a conclusion to the Idle No More protests, but that isn’t the case. Rally’s and information sessions continue throughout the country.
Kristin Tanche is a youth that took part in some of the Idle No More events in Fort Simpson. She says the omnibus budget Bill C-45 that was passed last month directly affects the NWT. She says with horizontal fracking coming to the north, the territory’s natural resources can be exploited very easily.
“I think people in the Northwest Territories need to start paying attention. And I think it’s great with this movement that people are really starting to pay attention ot he legislation involved with the different waterways and with the environment and realizing that it really does put the Northwest Territories at risk.”
Friday’s meeting will focus on treaty relationship and aboriginal rights, and economic development. Those are only two of six commitments Stephen Harper made at last years’ Crown-First Nations gathering. Tanche says the focus should be on the environment.
“I think you see that a lot where economic development is on the forefront and the environmental impacts is in the background, and definitely with the passing of the legislation it makes it even easier for economic development. It takes a lot protection away from the waterways and stuff, and our environment should be at the forefront.”
One of the founders of Idle No More, Sylvia McAdams, is not very optimistic about Friday’s meeting. She says she doesn’t believe the meeting will change how the federal government deals with First Nations people.
“The conservative agenda surrounding economic development means removal of the Navigable Waters Protection Act. So I’m concerned that that agenda is still there. I don’t think it’s going to change, really. I may be bold enough to say that I don’t think that the conservative agenda is going to change.”
The official delegation to meet with the Prime Minister has not yet been announced. It is up to the Assembly of First Nations to coordinate the leadership.
Iman Kassam / CKLB News