REPORTING · 27th April 2011
With question 4 came Sean O’Driscoll who wanted to see equality in Canada over discrimination. He said the First Nations do not pay taxes. O’Driscoll himself needed surgery in Vancouver to live. He had to pay, while a member of a local First Nations threw a card on the table and had his trip to Vancouver paid for.
Clay Harmon answered first saying he worked with the Nishka for four years. He explained they are under a Treaty. They do not have to pay income tax until 2013 and a few years ago started paying consumer taxes. He said the federal government has resolved 5 land claims.
Nathan Cullen said there was a lot of discrimination in Canada and all over the world and discrimination towards First Nations people. He said there are many First Nations who do pay taxes as they have left the reserves to find jobs. They are forced to leave the reserves to live in Terrace or Kitimat and pay taxes like everyone else. The treaty process turned into an industry where the government chose not to settle, allowing lawyers to get rich. He said the larger treaties needed to be settled.
Roger Benham agreed with what Cullen said.
Maggie Braun said this was an important issue and she would like to see more equality. She said she did not live with the back and forth resentment. She would like to know more about the issues. The way to make it right was to move forward and resolve the issues so they do not continue this for further generations.
Kyle Warwick said there was a lot of misconception out there. He said in many cases, education and health care receive less funding on reserves than they do outside of reserves. He suggested having the facts straight before speaking about inequality as some times they are not obvious. He said it was good to see places like Kitimat were seeing developments for the First Nations.
Rod Taylor said Canada has failed to negotiate with First Nations and levels of wounding have happened. He said they are all living with a sense of injustice. He said treaty claims should be resolved as quickly as possible preserving the rights of aboriginal and non aboriginal Canadians. The Indian Act is out dated and should be abolished. The federal government should commit to prior occupancy by first Nations and restitution and reconciliation allowing participation in Canadian society for all Canadians.