Coalition created to fight Bill C-10

TORONTO – A coalition has been formed against the Harper Government’s Bill C-10 (an act to criminalize Native tobacco). The coalition is currently comprised of a variety of groups which have long taken positions in support of indigenous rights and sovereignty. Signatories to a statement released on the website include the Law Union of Ontario, No One Is Illegal – Toronto, the BASICS Community News Organization, the Two Row Society, and the First Nations Solidarity Working Group of the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 3903. 

As the statement notes, “Bill C-10 will impact communities, families and workers. By attacking the First Nations tobacco trade, many people will lose their livelihoods, contributing to further destitution and dislocation. Such effects will hurt Indigenous families, especially women, forcing many out of decent jobs, out of their communities, and into the streets of Canadian cities where the crisis of murdered and missing Indigenous women is already at epidemic proportions. Such outcomes are unconscionable. On top of these outcomes, this new law violates principles of international, domestic, and treaty law.”

The group has come up with a document outlining why they are opposed to Bill C 10 and are asking for all organizations and businesses – native and non-native – to come together and work against Bill C-10.

According to Steve Da Silva, an organizer with the campaign, “we need to make a stand together to uphold treaty rights and the Two Row Wampum. Native and non-Native people share many interests and the aim of our coalition is to link together people from many different organizations and movements who are under attack from the Harper government to stop this Bill from becoming law.”

Included in the organizing against Bill C-10 is a video which has been produced to draw attention to the plight of the Onkwehon:we people concerning the attack on the tobacco trade. The video was professionally produced on the Six Nations territory of the Grand River by Hitch Media Productions. The video profiles people from a variety of indigenous and non-indigenous communities speaking about the effects of Bill C-10. The video can be accessed by going to the website

The next meeting of the Coalition will be on Sunday April 29th at the Sour Springs Plaza on Second Line at 1pm. All organizations and businesses which have endorsed the Coalition statement are entitled to attend the meeting and help shape the growing opposition to Bill C-10. For more information or to have your group join the coalition, email or call 519-445-9252.

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  1. Who is really benefiting from the tobacco trade anyway? It’s not like our community is seeing any type of income from it, just select members who are becoming filthy rich of off our peoples rights while others are in near poverty. Perhaps if we were not so opposed to education our people would be able to build bridges to be able to better their lives and reach their goals in this world. It is very saddening to see so many youth aspire to work in a tobacco shop or cigarette factory. Are either of these things productive or creating a positive environment for our future?

    Why are we not fighting for our natural resources that are not only of beneficence to our community but essential for life? Companies like Nestle are draining the Great Lakes as we speak and shipping “bottled” water to countries such as China and raking in the profit while we have virtually no access to fresh, clean water. We are supposed to be leaders by example and influence the world around us by our peaceful, loving and caring ways but we have fallen victim to greed and anger.

    It is time to stop playing the “victim” for once and start doing things with a good heart and mind. We need to stop letting others think for us and we need to start thinking for ourselves as we are all connected to one another. We need to start thinking of each other and what will bring us stronger and closer as a community, not about personal gain. If one of us wins we all are winners and that it the kind of mind set we need to get back to.

    It’s exciting to see that people are starting to realize this once again, and that there is an urgent need for unity and not just within the First Nations communities but all over the globe. We are all facing hard times regardless of our skin color, culture or ethnicity. I think we need to look at the greater picture here and see what is really at stake, because it is not just “our” tobacco rights it is our very freedom as we know it.

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