spec claimsMarch 8, 2015

The Right Honorable Stephen Harper

Office of the Prime Minister

80 Wellington Street

Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2

Dear Prime Minister Harper,

As First Nations citizens, specific claims practitioners, lawyers and Canadians committed to the just, fair and timely resolution of specific claims in Canada, we present the enclosed report prepared by the National Claims Research Directors and call on you to act immediately upon the report’s recommendations.

Claims Research Directors manage over 30 claims research associations across Canada and are responsible for advancing hundreds of specific claims for hundreds of First Nations. They are uniquely positioned to witness and participate in all parts of the specific claims process.

The enclosed report, In Bad Faith: Justice At Last and Canada’s Failure to Resolve Specific Claims, details Canada’s failure to fulfill its commitments to fairly resolve specific claims. Specific claims are historic wrongdoings committed by the Crown against First Nations that are rooted in racially discriminatory ideas, legislation and policies which Canada has publicly acknowledged and committed to redress. The legacy of this continues to impact First Nations communities to the present day. Unresolved specific claims impinge upon economic opportunities, housing, and access to resources and are often at the root of conflicts between First Nations, their neighbours and government. AANDC’s recent treatment of specific claims is setting the stage for further conflict.

In Bad Faith challenges recent public assertions made by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) that proclaim the success of Canada’s Specific Claims Action Plan: Justice At Last. The report presents a review and analysis of available reports and data, and input from First Nations, and concludes that your government has effectively abandoned negotiation as the preferred and just means of resolving specific claims. Contrary to the promises articulated in Justice at Last, your government has allowed for longstanding historical grievances to remain unresolved, along with the significant burden of debt and uncertainty that these claims represent for all Canadians.

In 2014, James Anaya, then United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous Peoples observed that Canada’s claims processes are “…mired in difficulties. As a result of these difficulties, many First Nations have all but given up on them. Worse yet, in many cases it appears that these processes have contributed to a deterioration rather than a renewal of the relationship between indigenous peoples and the Canadian state.” Anaya urges that the Government of Canada “should instead acknowledge that the public interest is not opposed to, but rather includes, aboriginal concerns.”

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has called for a “comprehensive strategy” to uphold the human rights of Indigenous peoples in Canada, including a national plan of action to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Canada’s endorsement of the UNDRIP underlines is obligation to ensure justice for First Nations in Canada and improve its relations with First Nations. This includes ensuring that specific claims are resolved with finality through collaboration and negotiation with First Nations and creating the conditions for these processes to occur by providing adequate resources.

Specific claims will not be resolved if Canada continues to engage in the practices detailed in the enclosed report, nor will they disappear without honorable government leadership that respects the principles of justice articulated in its own policy documents. The debt burden on Canadians is mounting and the already fragile relationship between Canada and First Nations is in danger of further deterioration. With an upcoming federal election, we urge you to implement the recommendations outlined in our report and uphold the promises made in Justice At Last to settle specific claims through fair, honorable and timely negotiations with First Nations, and ensure that the human rights of First Nations are fully respected.

Sincerely,

?Aq’am Community Councillor Marty Williams

‘Namgis First Nation Chief Councillor Debra Hanuse

Adams Lake Indian Band Chief Robin Billy

Aitchelitz First Nation Chief Angie Bailey

Alexis Creek First Nation Chief Percy Guichon

Barriere Lake First Nation Chief Casey Ratt

Beausoleil First Nation Chief Monague

Bonaparte Indian Band Chief Ryan Day

Boothroyd Indian Band Chief Rick Campbell

Boston Bar Indian Band Chief Dolores O’Donaghey

Chawathil First Nation Chief Rhoda Perers

Cheam First Nation Chief Sidney Douglas

Chippewas of Rama First Nation Chief Rodney Noganosh

Chippewas of Thames First Nation Chief R. K. Joe Miskokomon

Coldwater Indian Band Chief Lee Spahan

Cowichan Tribes Chief William Seymour

Deh Gah Gotie First Nations Chief Joachim Bonnetrouge

Doig River First Nation Chief Norman Davis

Eagle Village First Nation Chief Madeleine Paul

Fort Nelson First Nation Chief Liz Logan

Gitsegukla First Nation Chief Clifford Sampare

Halfway River First Nation Chief Darlene Hunter

Hesquiaht Chief April Charleson

High Bar First Nation Chief Larry Fletcher

Katzie First Nation Chief Susan Miller and Council

Kitasoo/Xaixais First Nation Resource Stewardship Director Douglas Neasloss

K’omoks First Nation Chief Rob Everson

Kwakiutl Band Council Chief Coreen Child

Kwiakah First Nation Chief Steven Dick

Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation Chief Bob Chamberlin

Kwikwetlem First Nation Councillor Ed Hall

Lhoosk’uz Dene Nation Chief Liliane Squinas

Lhtako Dene Nation Chief Terry Boucher

Liidlii Kue First Nation Sub-Chief Steven Jose

Lil’wat First Nation Chief Lucinda Phillips

Lower Kootenay Band Chief Jason Louie

Lower Nicola Indian Band Chief Aaron Sam

Lower Similkameen Indian Band Chief Keith Crow

Lytton First Nation Chief Janet Webster

Magnetawan First Nation Chief Diabo

Nadleh Whut’en First Nation Chief Martin Louie

Neskonlith Indian Band Chief Judy Wilson

Nicomen Indian Band Chief Donna Gallinger

Nooaitch Indian Band Chief Marcel Shackelly

Okanagan Indian Band Chief Byron Louis

Oregon Jack Creek Indian Band Grand Chief Bob Pasco

Osoyoos Indian Band Councillor Tony Baptiste

Penticton Indian Band Chief Jonathan Kruger

Prophet River First Nation Chief Lynette Tsakoza

Prophet River First Nation Chief Lynette Tsakoza

Saulteau First Nations Chief Nathan Parenteau

Shackan Indian Band Grand Chief Percy Joe

Sheshegwaning First Nation Chief Joe Endanawas

Shuswap Indian Band Head Councillor Barbara Cote

Shxw’ow’hamel First Nation Si:Yam Council Member Irene Smith

Simpcw First Nation Chief Rita Matthew

Siska Indian Band Chief Fred Sampson

Six Nations Elected Council Chief G. Ava Hill

Skawahlook First Nation Chief Maureen Chapman

Skeetchestn Indian Band Chief Ron Ignace

Skowkale First Nation Councillor Jeffrey Point

Skuppuh Indian Band Chief Doug McIntyre

Snuneymuxw First Nation Councillor Sandra Good

Splatsín First Nation Chief Wayne Christian

Spuzzum First Nation Chief James Hobart

Squiala First Nation Chief David Jimmie

Sts’ailes Band Chief Harvey Paul

Sucker Creek First Nation  Chief Jim Badger

Sumas First Nation Chief Dalton Silver

Timiskaming First Nation Chief Terence McBride

Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Chief Shane Gottfriedson

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Councillor Terry Dorward

Tsartlip First Nation Chief Don Tom

Tsawaout First Nation Chief Harvey Underwood

Tseshaht First Nation Chief Hugh Braker

Ts’kw’aylaxw First Nation Chief Francis Alec

Tsleil-Waututh Nation Councillor Jen Thomas

Tsleil-Waututh Nation Councillor Deanna George

Tzeachten First Nation Chief Glenda Campbell

Upper Nicola Band Chief Harvey McLeod

Upper Similkameen Indian Band Chief Charlotte Mitchell

Wahnapitae First Nation Chief Ted Roque

West Moberly First Nations Chief Roland Willson

Westbank First Nation Chief Robert Louie

Whispering Pines/Clinton Indian Band Chief Michael LeBourdais

Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve Ogimaa Duke Peltier

Williams Lake Band Chief Anne Louie

Wolf Lake First Nation Chief Harry St Denis

Xaxli’p First Nations Chief Darrell Bob Sr.

Xeni Gwet’in First Nations Councillor Marilyn Baptiste

Yunesit’in Government Chief Russell Myers Ross

 

Tribal Councils

Carrier Sekani Tribal Council Tribal Chief Terry Teegee

Council of Chiefs of the Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke Grand Chief Michael Ahríhrhon Delisle Jr

Heiltsuk Tribal Council Councillor Travis Hall

Mohawk Council of Akwesasne Grand Chief Mike Kanentakeron Mitchell

Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council Vice-President Ken Watts

Shuswap Nation Tribal Council Tribal Chief Shane Gottfriedson

The Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq  Donald Julien, C.M., O.N.S., DCL, DHumL

 

Provinal Territorial Organisations

Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee

Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations Vice Chief Edward Dutch Lerat

First Nations Summit Grand Chief  Ed John, Cheryl Casimer & Robert Phillips

Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee)

Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs Grand Chief Stewart Phillip

 

Members of Parliament

Leader of the NDP and Leader of the Official Opposition The Honourable Thomas J. Mulcair, MP

Deputy Critic for Aboriginal Health Carol Hughes, MP

Official Opposition Critic for Ethics, Privacy, and Access to Information Charlie Angus, MP

Official Opposition Critic for Finance Nathan Cullen, MP

Official Opposition Critic for Aboriginal Affairs Niki Ashton, MP

Official Opposition Critic for Industry Peggy Nash, MP

Deputy Critic for Intergovernmental Aboriginal Affairs Romeo Saganash, MP

Research Directors/Claims Research Units

Algonquin Nation Secretariat Director, Policy & Research Peter Di Gangi

Alliance of Tribal Nations Research Director Mark Point

Assembly of First Nations Director, Implementing Rights Tonio Sadik

Conseil Tribal Mamuitun Research Director Denis Brassard

Cowichan Tribes Research Director Dianne Hinkley

Lesser Slave Lake Indian Regional Council T.A.R.R. Research Director Peter Havlik

Mi’kmaq Confederacy of P.E.I. Research Director Tammy MacDonald

Mohawk Council of Akwesasne Manager of Aboriginal Rights and Research Office Cactus Cook Sunday

Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke Project Leader Winona Poslon-Lahache

Nishnawbe-Aski Nation Research Director Luke Hunter

Nlaka’pamux Nation Tribal Council Research Director Debbie Abbott

Six Nations Lands Research Office Research Director Lonny Bomberry

Specific Claims Research Centre Research Coordinator Mona Donovan

Stoney Nation Research Director Ian Getty

T.A.R.R. Centre of Manitoba, Inc. Research Director Patricia Myran

T.A.R.R. Centre of NS, Inc. Research Director Jim Micheal

T.A.R.R. Treaty 3 Research Director Andy Sky

The Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq Director History & Culture Tim Bernard

Treaty 8 Tribal Association T.A.R.R. Manager Leone Nippard

Tsuu T’ina Nation CRU  Research Director Jim Big Plume

UBCIC Specific Claims Research Program Research Director Jody Woods

Union of Ontario Indians/Anishinabek Nation Treaty Research Coordinator Alicia McLeod

 

Like Minded Organisations

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde

Alliance of Tribal Nations Grand Chief Clarence Pennier

Amnesty International Canada

BC Specific Claims Working Group Chief Maureen Chapman, Chair

BCAFN Spokesperson and Director Chief Maureen Chapman

Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers)

KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives

Leclair Historical Research, Toronto Laurie Leclair, Principal

Leclair Historical Research, Toronto Dr. Colin McFarquhar, Researcher

Leclair Historical Research, Toronto Yvonne Boothroyd, Associate

Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs Coola Louis, Women’s Representative

Union of Ontario Indians Dr. Rhonda Telford, Historian

Union of Ontario Indians Dr. David Shanahan, Historian

Arnold Peters Chawathil First Nation

Katharine Owen Halifax, N.S.

Marilyn Brennan Maple Ridge, B.C.

Victor C. Pearson Port Alberni, B.C.

Kathryn Lennon Vancouver, B.C.

Christopher Carter Vancouver, B.C.

Elisabeth Donnelly Vancouver, B.C.

Tegan Brock Peterborough, Ontario

 http://www.ubcic.bc.ca/files/PDF/InBadFaith_JusticeatLast_CanadaFailureResolveSpecificClaims.pdf