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
"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
- "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: