Canada | Opinion

Editorial: AFN seeks change to disastrous Indian policy in Canada

"Assembly of First Nations national chief Shawn Atleo has been saying it for a while, but said it again last week at the AFN's annual general assembly in Moncton, N.B., on July 12, attracting national media attention. First Nations want to significantly change the terms of their relationship with the federal government, framed today by the Indian Act, which Mr. Atleo says should be scrapped.

Mr. Atleo also wants to disband the Aboriginal Affairs Department, the administrator of the act, and wants it replaced with a body that would deal with First Nations on a government-to-government basis. He's right. The system must be changed.

"Our ancestors realized the importance of partnership, recognition, respect and mutual support. And they entered into treaty relationships based on the full knowledge and confidence of their rights and responsibilities," Mr. Atleo writes in a column in this week's issue of The Hill Times. "Sadly, this is no longer our reality. More than a century of misguided policies and imposed federal legislation has resulted in tragic consequences for First Nations. Consequences that we live and die by to this day."

Mr. Atleo also cites the 1996 exhaustive Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples which concluded that federal policy has failed First Nations. The royal commission also proposed a comprehensive plan for change."

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Editorial: Feds policy failed First Nations (The Hill Times 7/18)

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