AMC GRAND CHIEF DEREK NEPINAK RESPONDS TO THE APPOINTMENT OF THE NEW MINISTER OF ABORIGINAL AND NORTHERN DEVELOPMENT CANADA
Winnipeg, MB – February 22, 2013 The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Derek Nepinak issued the following statement on the occasion of the Prime Minister's announcement of Bernard Valcourt named as the new Minister of Aboriginal and Northern Development Canada (AANDC):
This portfolio has many critical issues to address such as the proposed new First Nations Education Act, changes to the Indian Act without consultation with First Nations, high level commitments made regarding treaty negotiations, on-reserve water and sewer, housing shortage crisis, inadequate reserve infrastructure and working towards establishing a First Nations resource equity position are just a small number of the major issues facing the new Minister.
It would be nice to hear the words or a statement from the new minister opposed to regurgitation from the previous minister. It's quite apparent from his first 'statement' that there is a common thread tying ministers together in a tightly controlled authoritarian Harper regime.
I understand the new minister has a strong and accomplished record in Eastern Canada. Whether his strong record will mean anything in the highly contained and controlled Harper regime remains to be seen. The development of the Canadian idea is also fundamentally different in western Canada because of treaties that opened the west to immigrant settlement. I am uncertain as to whether the minister from eastern Canada can or will fully understand the fundamental differences.
However, I congratulate the Honourable Bernard Valcourt on his new assignment and welcome him as the Minister of Aboriginal and Northern Development Canada, and Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians.
I encourage Mr. Valcourt to be open to considering the unique position of Indigenous people in the Canadian nation state. He must be grounded in evolving international standards as represented by the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and must be well versed in the dark colonial history and current challenges impacting First Nations people in the application of the Indian Act.