There has been a lot of activity in the territory this month as residents have been absorbing the blow from Bill C-45.
At the Dene Nation Special Assembly, chiefs and community members across Denendeh learned about some major cuts to Tribal Councils and how the streamlining process will affect the regions.
Last week in Ottawa, chiefs across Canada rallied on Parliament Hill to oppose some of the changes in legislation brought on by Harper’s bill.
And on Monday, a group called the Concerned Dene of Denendeh rallied in Yellowknife to protest the new laws that will directly affect First Nations people across the nation.
The 400-page bill passed through to the Senate with no amendments. The bill makes changes to land and water protection, the Fisheries Act, on-reserve land management, the stream lining process, and the Navigable Waters Act. It cuts funding to Aboriginal groups.
Earlier this year Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced his commitment to respect, honour, and recognize treaty rights and to not unilaterally change the Indian Act.
“Our government has no grand scheme to repeal or to unilaterally rewrite the Indian Act. After 136 years, that tree has deep roots. Blowing up the stump would just leave a big hole.”
But, Pam Palmater, a Mi’kmaq lawyer says Bill C-45 breaks that promise with at least eight pieces of legislation.
First Nations leaders across Canada are furious.
“We’ve gotta stop the governments coming into our territories. Treaties 1-11, we can do a moratorium and close all their ventures.”
“What kind of legacy do we want to leave behind? Not one of racism and discrimination. That’s what this legislation is all about.”
“We will achieve justice for our people. We will achieve justice and see our rights implemented. And we want to express to this country that we are going to do this work together.”
Dene National Chief Bill Erasmus has been traveling the country representing Denendeh. He was amongst the chiefs who rallied in Ottawa and was at the Idle No More march this week in Edmonton.
He says the federal government has a scheme up their sleeve:
“This existing federal government knows that they’re doing wrong. And I think what they’re trying to do is distract us and get us to argue amongst ourselves and fight over money and that sort of thing. And in the mean time they’ll sell the country out to China or whoever they can. That way it solidifies their hold of resources.”
Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence announced this week that she is on a hunger strike. She will not eat until the Prime Minister and the Queen agree to discuss treaty rights at a meeting with first nations.
Spence says she is prepared to die.
She’s one of thousands of Canadian’s who are responding to and protesting Bill C-45.
Iman Kassam / CKLB News
Original Article, Prime Minister's speech, and more information on the crown and First Nations Joint Action Plan