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NEWS: Ontario regional chief, NDP leader slam the summits

The Toronto Star reports today on the 100th anniversary of the signing of Treaty 5, which was marked in Sandy Lake, a community 600 km northwest of Thunder Bay.

“(Treaty 5) ceded 100,000 square km of land to the British Crown for a few tools, a life on a reserve and $5 a head every year for ‘as long as the sun shone’.”

This commemoration took place in “a part of Ontario no summit leader will see. Unlike the sites hosting the summits, there are no shiny new buildings, no freshly paved roads and no fake lakes. Housing is scarce and marginal, heartbreaking poverty everywhere.”

Ontario Regional Chief Angus Toulouse says, “We have not been a party to any of the discussions leading up to the G8 or the G20… (despite) the national chief (having) made overtures to the Prime Minister’s Office, to the federal government, to get a voice or to at least get an audience with the international leaders.”

“(Toulouse) wonders why Prime Minister Stephen Harper has embarked upon a maternal child and health strategy in the Third World, yet he has neglected to look at this problem in his own country.”

“Statistics Canada data shows the infant mortality or death rate (for First Nations children) is 1.5 times higher than the Canadian rate.”

“(And) there are 118 First Nations across Canada where the water is too polluted to drink. …According to the Assembly of First Nations, 5,486 of 88,485 houses on-reserve do not have sewage.”

“The fact the federal government spent $46 million in the Huntsville area to beautify an already rich part of the province for a summit that can be measured in hours is not lost on Toulouse.”

He says, “There is much need for renovations to the water system, to housing, you name it. We have Third World conditions in many of our remote First Nations communities and it is not their fault.”

“NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, who made the trek to Sandy Lake called the G20 meeting in Toronto the ‘height of hypocrisy.’ The global leaders might as well be living in a glass bubble, she says. ‘The G20 has no impact on their lives — none whatsoever.’ The leaders are not going to talk about indigenous peoples in any countries, she adds. ‘And they are spending a billion dollars to do it — to have a conversation that won’t affect the lives of real people. It is a disgrace.’”

The full article is at http://www.thestar.com/NEWS/article/822891.