VANCOUVER, BC (July 12, 2006) – First Nations in Ontario are rejecting arguments that favour a confrontational and violent means of dealing with Native demonstrations and civil disobedience at Caledonia, and that the tact chosen by OPP top brass should be considered shameful.
“We applaud Commissioner Boniface’s courageous and diplomatic approach. She has the utmost confidence and support of First Nations leadership,” said Grand Council Chief Beaucage, leader of the 42-member First Nations of the Anishinabek Nation.
“It is evident that the OPP have learned from their past mistakes and Commissioner Boniface wants to ensure those mistakes are not repeated.” Beaucage was speaking from the annual general meeting of the Assembly of First Nations in Vancouver.
Chiefs attending the Assembly have expressed concern over criticism of Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Gwen Boniface’s handling of the Caledonia situation and suggestion that she should resign.
“The Ontario Provincial Police are acting as true ‘peace officers’ in their role at Caledonia. There is great honour in restraint and making good decisions,” said Grand Council Chief Beaucage. “Being a peacekeeper shouldn’t be considered by anyone to be shameful, a sign of weakness or supporting lawlessness.”
“There is a certain, small element of society that would advocate police violence, confrontation and ignorance of First Nations land rights rather than the chosen approach of the government and the police, said Grand Council Chief John Beaucage. “We have all seen the tragic results of this approach, most recently at Ipperwash in 1995.”
“Negotiation and level-headedness is the only way to resolve these types of sensitive flashpoints to avoid unnecessary violence,” concluded Beaucage.
The Anishinabek Nation incorporated the Union of Ontario Indians (UOI) 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.