Public Values

Privatizing reserve land a recipe for disaster - Union of Ontario Indians

Legislation would provide land speculators unprecedented opportunities.

The Harper government is trying another end-run around promises - Patrick Madahbee.Federal legislation to permit the privatization of reserve land is a recipe for disaster that avoids dealing with the root causes of First Nations poverty, says Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee.

"Under the pretense of creating more economic opportunities for our citizens, the Harper government is trying another end-run around Canada's promises and obligations to work with us to build stronger communities. If they want to help us develop our own economies, they can speed up addition-to-reserve processes, and look at ways we can re-zone reserve land for industrial use, or establish off-reserve industrial parks with tax advantages for our business partners.

"Canada allowed most of our traditional territories to be stolen out from under us, which is why there is a backlog of over 800 land claims," said Madahbee, speaking on behalf of the 40 member communities of the Anishinabek Nation in Ontario. "Now the federal government itself is getting into the land-grab business. They're trying to ram through a law that could result in the loss of what postage-stamp properties we have left. Our reserves are not for sale."

The Grand Council Chief said such legislation would provide land speculators unprecedented opportunities to acquire ownership to lands that the Canadian Constitution says are reserved exclusively for First Nation use.

"A federal attempt to privatize lands reserved for First Nations is like real estate agents charging commission on properties not even listed with them," said Madahbee, who said he is not impressed by the fact that Ottawa has found some First Nations disciples for their privatization plan.

"It's the same old divide-and-conquer strategy they used 150 years ago to take our lands. You can always find someone who says they got a great education in residential school, or who thinks we should try to turn all our citizens into Bay Street tycoons. But in their enthusiasm, those people usually forget two important steps: first, we have to be involved in all decisions affecting our future and, secondly, governments have to start getting serious about sharing the resources with us that the treaties have helped them enjoy."

The Anishinabek Nation established the Union of Ontario Indians as its secretariat in 1949. The UOI is a political advocate for 40 member communities across Ontario, representing approximately 55,000 people. The Union of Ontario Indians 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.

Links and sources
  Anishinabek Nation, Union of Ontario Indians

Posted: October 26, 2010

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