Bill receives assent, but chiefs will have last word
Caption: Idle No More poster by northwest coast artist Andy Everson
By Jennifer Ashawasegai Windspeaker Contributor
First Nations in the country have reached the end of their patience. That was noticeably evident during what’s being called the ‘Scuffle on the Hill’ on Dec. 4, 2012.
Chiefs were in a special assembly hosted by the Assembly of First Nations in Gatineau. They were expressing their frustration on the legislation contained in the Conservative government’s Omnibus Bill or Bill C-45. First Nation leadership marched to Parliament Hill where they gave speeches,and since the bill was being debated inside the building, they decided to go in there so Canadian politicians could hear their concerns in person.
They were worried about the many impacts contained in the legislation, including changes to the Indian Act, land claims and the Navigable Waters Act.
Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee looked as though he was trying to push past security to get into the House. In a telephone interview, he said, “We thought the Minister of Indian Affairs was going to come out, but he didn’t come out. The Minister of Natural Resources [Joe Oliver]came out and his remarks were the same old, same old sentiments that, you know, they’re doing everything for First Nations, respecting the environment, they’re going to create jobs for First Nations,” Madahbee told Windspeaker.
“After he made his little statement, he started to get some feedback from us. We didn’t agree with his approach and he walked back into the room.” This was when the ‘scuffle’ happened. Madahbee said, “When we tried to follow him into the area to continue the discussion, to make our views known, security stopped us.”
Madahbee didn’t agree with the legislation and said the government was going against the commitment from the Prime Minister made at the Crown/First Nations Gathering at the beginning of 2012. Madahbee suggests the omnibus bill has done the opposite.
“We have a hardened sentiment that the government is definitely not our friend.”