TORONTO (Oct 15, 2015) --- Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day says that worsening conditions for First Nations citizens are the result of a cycle of discrimination created by the Indian Act and says that Canadian voters should reject the current conservative policy approaches that perpetuate institutional racism and marginalization of First Nations on election day.
The Chiefs of Ontario's Top 5 Challenges First Nations in Ontario face that the next government must address:
First Nations have a health crisis but the Harper Government’s has made it harder for First Nations to access health care by cutting budgets, limiting services and burying patients and doctors in paperwork;
First Nations have higher rates of poverty and First Nations economic agencies have been under attack by the Conservative government;
First Nations have the highest rates of suicide, addiction, and domestic violence in Canada yet Ottawa has clawed back access to mental health and addictions programs;
First Nations are land and resource rich, but Ottawa violates our Treaties, infringes our rights, and ignores our communities’ needs by giving the land and resources away without our permission to wealthy resource companies;
First Nations want to co-exist and work with Canada, but have been marginalized by unilateral approaches, conflict, and discriminatory policy impacts.
“It is simply unacceptable that Indian Status is an indicator of health, poverty, and education in Canada,” Ontario Regional Chief Day said. “First Nations have worse health and educational outcomes, worse housing, and less access to critical services than any other population in Canada. This is entirely due to federal funding practices, policies and discriminatory legislation – some of which has been on the books since 1876.”
Regional Chief Day stated that the current government continues a cycle of discrimination and imposes the politics of race which results in First Nations having the worse prospects than any other group in Canada.
“Ottawa has had its chance to do something, but over the last 10 years the Harper Government has walked away from Indigenous peoples. Instead of ending discrimination, this government clawed back every dollar and program aimed at achieving equity. As a result, there are two tiers of people in Canada: those with opportunity, and those who will always battle the odds because they are indigenous. Race or nationality should never be a factor in Canada, but it sadly is when it comes to health, housing, education or youth opportunities.”
First Nations living on reserve have the lowest standard of living in Ontario. Currently, over 60 First Nations are unable to access clean drinking water. Over half of the First Nations in northern Ontario are unable to afford proper nutrition due to the high cost of food. The suicide rate amongst First Nations youth is five times greater than that of all Canadians.
Two years ago this week, the United Nations warned that Canada will face a “crisis” due to the situations of Indigenous peoples.
“On Election Day, voters should ask themselves if they are prepared to support another generation of discrimination, another generation of youth stuck in poverty, or another decade of lost opportunities,” said Ontario Regional Chief Day. “This is the chance for Canadians to send a loud and clear message that they expect the next government to end the cycle of discrimination and begin to address our priority issues.”
With the Federal Election day less than a week away, the Chiefs of Ontario will be issuing statements daily on the top priorities for First Nations in Ontario through press releases, social media and media interviews.
Follow Regional Chief Isadore Day and the Chiefs of Ontario on twitter at @chiefday and @chiefsofontario and visit the Chiefs of Ontario website to see a full list of priorities, federal party leaders promises to First Nations and what the Chiefs of Ontario expect from a new federal government.
The Chiefs of Ontario is a political forum and a secretariat for collective decision making, action, and advocacy for the 133 First Nation communities located within the boundaries of the province of Ontario, Canada. Follow Chiefs of Ontario on Facebook or Twitter @ChiefsOfOntario #whoisshe
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Jamie Monastyrski, Communications 807-630-7087 firstname.lastname@example.org