This past Wednesday busloads of Onhkwehonh:we descended upon Parliament Hill to protest the impositions of Bills C-10 and C-33 and the grossly overlooked issue of our missing and murdered women. Bill C-10 amends the Criminal Code of Canada to add jail time to any Onhkwehonh:we having so-called “contraband” tobacco. Bill C-33 or the FNC-FNEA (First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act) fails to provide the necessary funding for education while tightening Ministerial control over First Nations education. This National Day of Resistance also raised the demand that the government immediately launch a full inquiry into our missing and murdered women.
Understandably the Onhkwehonh:we communities are up in arms at the barrage of legislation aimed at undercutting any equitable and reasonable standing for our peoples. And nor will we accept any longer our women being seen as worthless and disposable objects by the Canadian establishment.
Our pain is constantly being dismissed by the Canadian society and we see it happening again with the intentional misrepresentation of our issues by the mainstream media. One newspaper reports that we are looking for more money and control over education. This newspaper glibly ignores the fact that the FNC-FNEA dangerously cuts an already slashed budget and that we have the right to educate our own children in our own ways. Likewise Bill C-10 undermines a stable economy that has seen the levels of welfare in Onhkwehonh:we communities drop dramatically.
In Ottawa on Wednesday, spirits soared to see a unity emerge amongst our people against the wrongs directed at us. The protest in Ottawa brought about a synchronization of efforts inside of the various factions of our people. This sort of unification needs to continue in order to increase the pressures being exerted on the Harper Government and to create the change that we all need.
Change is around the corner. The resignation of Shawn Atleo was a step in the right direction and opens new possibilities for negotiations with a Tory Government that is now on the defensive. The Tories have illustrated a blindness to the realities of the Onhkwehonh:we and grossly underestimated the resolve of the people. We stand on our inherent rights as Native peoples and all the guarantees assured within. We are making a strong statement. The times they are a changing and we will no longer allow the Canadian government to be idle on the matters that affect us the most.