Anishinabek list election priorities, urge First Peoples vote

NIPISSING FIRST NATION (September 22, 2008) – Anishinabek Nation leadership has identified a set of priorities to be addressed by candidates in the Oct. 14 federal election to complement a campaign that urges active participation by the estimated 100,000 eligible First Nations, Metis and Inuit voters in Ontario.

“We need to ensure that all candidates and parties are aware of our key issues,” said Grand Council Chief John Beaucage, in releasing the Anishinabek Nation White Paper on Election Issues. “But First Peoples also need to use their votes to ensure that our priorities are Canada’s priorities.”

Anishinabek Nation leaders will be seeking commitments and support for the White Paper’s five key priorities:

  1. Eliminating poverty through implementation of the Anishinabek Nation Economic Blueprint and enhancing First Nations economic capacity; 
  2. Enhancing Education and Training opportunities to enable Anishinabek youth to enter the skilled workforce; 
  3. A renewed focus on the Treaties and Treaty Implementation, including provisions for resource revenue-sharing; 
  4. Adopting and Implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; 
  5. Commitment to protecting and proliferating First Nations languages – including funding of an Anishinabek Language Immersion Institute.

The Anishinabek Nation White Paper on Election Issues will be posted on the Anishinabek Nation website (www.anishinabek.ca) and the First Peoples Vote website (www.firstpeoplesvote.com). First Peoples Vote was unveiled in the 2007 Ontario election. An updated website includes and some 11,000 flyers being distributed across the province are targeting eligible First Peoples voters, informing them that they represent “swing votes” in at least ten Ontario federal ridings.

Questionnaires seeking commitments and support for the White Paper’s issues will be sent to federal parties and candidates.

“These five key priorities form our political message for this election,” said Grand Council Chief Beaucage. “Now Anishinabek and all First Peoples must use our ballots as our voices to carry this message to Ottawa. We must ensure that the candidates of all political parties know what’s important to us and understand that, as MPs and as a government, the resolution of our election issues and partnership with us is critical to our health and prosperity.”

Speaking for the 42 member communities of the Anishinabek Nation, Beaucage said Canada’s support of such initiatives as the comprehensive Anishinabek Nation Economic Blueprint — a 20-year strategic plan to establish self-sufficient regional and local economies – is what is required to bring an end to the poverty, inadequate housing and negative health indicators that plague First Peoples.

“Canada could also contribute a great deal by agreeing to follow the courts’ recommendations for modern interpretations of the Treaties that would see First Nations sharing in the country’s natural resource wealth,” Beaucage said, referring to the White Paper proposal for a new Treaty Implementation Process.

The Grand Council Chief linked the White Paper’s priority to protect First Nations languages to Canada’s apology for the devastating impact of the Indian Residential Schools.

“The Prime Minister cited the loss of our language in his June apology,” said Beaucage, calling on Ottawa to make specific commitments to fund such initiatives as the proposed Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe) Immersion Institute.

The Anishinabek Nation incorporated the Union of Ontario Indians as its secretariat in 1949. The UOI is a political advocate for 42 member First Nations across Ontario. The Union of Ontario Indians is the oldest political organization in Ontario and can trace its roots back to the Confederacy of Three Fires, which existed long before European contact.

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For more information contact:

Bob Goulais
Executive Assistant to the Grand Council Chief
(705) 498-5250
E-mail: goubob@anishinabek.ca

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