REPORTING · 28th April 2011
The 8th question concerned the treaty process. The questioner wanted to know why Aboriginal Rights Title, Judiciary Responsibility and the Indian Act were not a part of the Act, a question which had been asked earlier in the Election. He wanted to hear it from the candidates.
Maggie Braun said her party had not written an Aboriginal policy because they do not have Aboriginal members to give them input. She invited the speaker to give them input. She suggested having an Aboriginal minister who was Aboriginal and a House of Commons for the Bands and Nations so they could have control over what is happening on their lands. She added Aboriginal people do not own the land, they borrow it.
Kyle Warwick said treaty process negotiations allowed the quality of life to improve. He said they see a good quality of life with the Tsawwassen and the Nisga Nations. He stated this is because their treaties were complete. While the treaties are being completed, they have an interim process. The Northwest is exciting because they see this with the LNG Plant coming to the Haisla. He wanted to bring back the Kelowna Accords and scholarships for Aboriginals and Métis.
Nathan Cullen said he has not seen a negotiation which has a deadline in it. He could not understand why these groups have entered into processes which could go on forever. It has been putting the Nations in the Northwest into debt and has been going on for 20 years. They encouraged the governments to agree to an arbitration process which comes if there is an impasse with deadlines and resolve them.
Clay Harmon said the treaty process was committed to in the Conservative platform with a commitment to expedite the process. He worked with First Nations for the past nine years and the communities are buried under debt. There was nothing about forgiveness of debt or what happens after. He wanted to be a part of the process.
Rod Taylor said the Indian Act was problematic as it imposed a western form of government structure on the First Nations and it imposed discord upon the decision making between the imposed Band Council and the Hereditary Chiefs. He said it was important for Federal government to come to all First Nations who have not finished negotiations and establish the rules of discussion.
Roger Benham said citizenship had to be equal and Canada had to move forward on the UN Declaration of rights of indigenous peoples.