Transmitted by CNW Group on : May 24, 2006 12:24

Native leader challenges government Social record 'unacceptable': Beaucage

            NIPISSING FIRST NATION, ON, May 24 /CNW/ - Canada has a lot of work to do

to improve economic, social and cultural rights in this country, according to

a draft report from the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and

Cultural Rights. Although Canada continues to rank high on the Human

Development index, the United Nations felt compelled to comment on a number of

areas including concerns specific to Canada's First Peoples.

            According to the UN Report: "The Committee regrets that most of its 1993

and 1998 recommendations have not been implemented, and that the State party

has not addressed in an effective manner the following principal subjects of


            One of the main concerns in the report is the "disparities that still

persist between Aboriginal peoples and the rest of the Canadian population in

the enjoyment of (International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural

Rights) Covenant rights".

            "Canada's social, economic and cultural rights record pertaining to First

Nations is unacceptable. The government has some real soul searching to do,"

said Grand Council Chief John Beaucage who represents 43 First Nations in

Ontario. "This is a black eye for Canada and I challenge Prime Minister Harper

to work with us to eliminate First Nations poverty."

            Last week, Grand Council Chief Beaucage released a document called the

"Political Manifesto of the Anishinabek Nation" calling for the elimination of

Anishinabek Nation poverty in 20 years.

            "My plan takes into account a number of objectives, including a new

approach to funding First Nations government, building a First Nations economy

and working cooperatively with all parties including government," said

Beaucage. "This will not happen if the government continues to bury its head

in the sand. We are ready to do our part, is the government ready to do their


            Beaucage feels the government needs to take more substantive steps to

address poverty.

            "First Nations would like to see the government address poverty in a more

substantial way," said Beaucage referring to the committee's conclusions about

poverty. "We need Canada to define a poverty line, and develop social

assistance and minimum wages based on that standard. This would go a long way

towards eradicating First Nations poverty."

            Beaucage feels the key is to implement the objectives of the already

agreed-upon First Ministers' Kelowna Accord.

            "This government has yet to respond or commit to the agreements of the

First Ministers. Many of the UN's concerns are dealt with in a substantial way

by the First Ministers including its concerns over poverty, health, housing

and education," concluded Beaucage.

            Some of the concluding observations from the United Nations Committee on

Economic, Social and Cultural Rights:


            -   "The disparities that still persist between Aboriginal peoples and

                the rest of the Canadian population in the enjoyment of

                (International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights)

                Covenant rights, as well as the discrimination still experienced by

                Aboriginal women in matters of matrimonial property."

            -   "The absence of an official poverty line."

            -   "The insufficiency of minimum wage and social assistance to ensure

                the realization of the right to an adequate standard of living for


            -   "The Committee is concerned that, despite Canada's economic

                prosperity and the reduction of the number of people living below the

                Low Income Cut Off, 11.2 percent of its population still lived in

                poverty in 2004, and that significant differences in levels of

                poverty persist between Provinces and Territories. The Committee also

                notes with particular concern that poverty rates remain very high

                among disadvantaged and marginalized individuals and groups such as

                Aboriginal peoples..."

            -   "The Committee is also concerned by the significant disparities still

                remaining between Aboriginal people and the rest of the population in

                areas of employment, access to water, health, housing and


            -   "No time frame has been set up for the consideration and

                implementation of the recommendations of the Task Force on Aboriginal

                Languages and Cultures, and that no concrete measures have been

                adopted in the area of intellectual property for the protection and

                promotion of ancestral rights and traditional knowledge of Aboriginal



            The Anishinabek Nation incorporated the Union of Ontario Indians as its

secretariat in 1949. The UOI is a political advocate for 43 member First

Nations across Ontario. The UOI is the oldest political organization in

Ontario and can trace its roots back to the Confederacy of Three Fires, which

existed long before European contact.






/For further information: Bob Goulais, Executive Assistant to the Grand

Council Chief, Ph. (705) 497-9127, CELL(705) 498-5250, E-mail: