March 28, 2017

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VALCOURT HOLDS THE RATIONS IN FIRST NATIONS EDUCATION

VALCOURT HOLDS THE RATIONS IN FIRST NATIONS EDUCATION
Harper employs spin doctors such as rogue Min. Valcourt to craft a false picture about Indigenous leadership and its relationship with Canada.

This Week Minister Valcourt’s office stated that without cooperation of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) for Bill C-33, a 1.9 Billion dollar trust for First Nations education will be withheld from them; “funding will only follow real education reforms.” It didn’t take long for Twitter to respond with#HoldTheRations—referencing historic colonial strategy used to force Indigenous Nations to bend to colonial agendas by withholding vital resources from them.

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One of the keys to his ideaology is Harper employs spin doctors such as rogue Min. Valcourt to craft a false picture about Indigenous leadership and its relationship with Canada. The renaming of the contentious Bill C-33 from First Nations Education Act to First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act, is an obvious example of an attempted spin that missed the mark and ultimately led to the resignation of AFN National Chief, Shawn Atleo and later, the AFN’s Special Assembly of Chiefs voting to reject the Bill.

This week Chiefs of the Assembly of First Nations invoked AFN Charter provisions reviving the Confederacy of Nations. According to Chief Isador Day of Serpent River, “Up to this point, the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and the National Chief’s office have unilaterally pushed Bill C-33.” The response from Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt, who referred to the Confederacy as “rogue Chiefs” and a threat to National security, speaks to the high level of fear and ignorance that he and his administration hold toward Indigenous governance and self-determination. According to Chief Gordon Beardy of Muskrat Dam First Nation, “Valcourt’s slanderous accusations are founded on rumours and innuendo. The historic resurrection of the Confederacy of Nations that took place was a legitimate representative gathering of First Nation leaders from across the country as mandated in the Charter of the Assembly of First Nations”.

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The Confederacy of Nations is a political body that, according to Chief Isadore Day, was created to be the governing body and to establish and maintain accountability of the Executive governance of the AFN. Regional Chief Stan Beardy initiated the revival of the Confederacy in response to the second reading of Bill C-33 in April.

When the Special Assembly unanimously voted to reject Bill C-33, they also voted in favour of an alternative education resolution, which was put forward from Chiefs of Ontario (COO) and Quebec Chiefs. Grand Chief Gordon Peters who holds the Chiefs of Ontario Education Portfolio stated “…The way forward is renewed nation to nation negotiations to develop a new fiscal framework for First Nations education… to move in a unified direction to launch a new set of negotiations that ensure First Nations are part of the solution from the outset.” First Nations communities have not been waiting for solutions from the feds, but in fact, have done quite a bit of when it comes to education of First Nations children.

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Min. Valcourt’s office issued another statement responding to the rejection of Bill C-33. The statement would be laughable had it not been so insulting and so off the mark; “Our Government is extremely disappointed that the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) did not honor its agreement with the government.” The Assembly of First Nations did not have a written agreement with the Feds regarding Bill C-33, according to APTN reporter, Jorge Barrera Valcourt’s office informed him that the press conference in Kainai Blood Territory back in February counted as an agreement. Considering the number of agreements in the form of Treaties, Commissions and section 35 of the Canadian Constitution that the federal government has dishonoured, Valcourt’s office spins the perception that the government wants to honour agreements with First Nations.

Min. Valcourt also hinted yesterday that the feds may continue to move on Bill C-33 without the AFN. While there are some Chiefs from British Columbia and Saksatchewan who have issued statements to the feds that they are willing to move forward with Bill C-33, it remains to be seen what the next Tory spin will be to justify the unilateral actions.

In the meantime, the Confederacy of Nations has suspended the AFN Executive activities related to education while the Assembly reorganizes itself and prepares for another election. There will be a meeting in July in Halifax, and the election will happen later in the year. One thing is certain, Indigenous resistance to imposed legislation will continue with the goal of re-establishing a Nation-to-Nation relationship with the federal government. How do you spin that?

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About The Author

Jamaias DaCosta

Jamaias DaCosta is a writer, Spoken Word artist and performer, co-Host and Producer of The Vibe Collective radio show and is the Producer of Indigenous Waves Radio, both on CIUT 89.5FM. She sits on the Advisory Board for Mixed in Canada and is a member of the multidisciplinary artist group r3 collective. Jamaias facilitates educational workshops in grade schools, universities and at conferences such as the Allied Media Conference in Detroit and Toronto Truth and Reconciliation around stereotypes; Indigenous education and decolonial thought. Jamaias has worked with Caribbean Tales Film Festival, written for the CBC, and multiple publications. Jamaias is a mixed settler of Kanien’keha:ka, Cree, Irish and French, Jamaican (Colombian, African, Portuguese, Sephardic Jew) ancestry.

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