HM Government spends $9 billion on INAC. It has become an industry to keep Aboriginals poor and dependent. I believe the treaties with the Crown must be respected, but we must abolish the Indian Act. As I have said before I would prefer to just take that $9 billion and give every Aboriginal covered by the treaties a stipend. It disgusts and shames me that my Aboriginal brothers and sisters live in such conditions. I was sickened by the murder of Ethan Yellowbird. I believe we must encourage Aboriginals to go to school, to be able to own their own property and engage in legalbusiness. That is how other groups in society have exited poverty. I support more autonomy for Aboriginals, but I do want them to be citizens of this great land. INAC is not working. It is time to try something else.
Mr. Atleo presented a brief to the AFN’s annual general assembly in Moncton on Tuesday that, among other things, called for the replacement of the Aboriginal Affairs department – the administrator of the act – with a body that would deal with first nations on a government-to-government basis.
But that brief was just a reflection of the sentiment that is being expressed by first nations communities across the country, Mr. Atleo said in a telephone interview.
The fact that “there are over 200 communities that are actively at negotiation tables has the effect of moving beyond the Indian Act as well as taking greater control into the communities,” he said. It also means “not relying on Indian Act bureaucracy which is, in fact, growing. The bureaucracy is growing while conditions get worse.”
Mr. Alteo said the call rising from first nations leaders who attended the first day of the three-day gathering is for the federal government to honour the treaty relationship, “and for the mechanisms that are required to move away from the bureaucracy controlling the lives of first nations to be brought into effect.”
For many years, first nations have called for the establishment of their own auditor general and ombudsperson. At the Moncton meeting, they also talked about the need to create an independent treaty tribunal, said the national chief.
“Those are types of institutional shifts away from government dictating from Ottawa how the lives of first nations should be governed,” said Mr. Atleo.