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N.I.B. Meets Cabinet: Resolutions Presented

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      APRIL 15 1975      v05 n07 p03  
Ottawa - The Executive Council of the National Indian Brotherhood recently presented a set of resolutions to Prime Minister Trudeau and the Federal Cabinet on education, housing, economic development, taxation and the Indian Act itself.

The final draft of the resolutions were the results of a three day general assembly held in March with about 90 observers and delegates in attendance.

This meeting was the first with the Cabinet in five years, where the Executive Council were able to present resolutions, make recommendations on processes and policies to the Cabinet.
 
"Your attendance here shows your personal concern and commitments to the continuing involvement between members of your Cabinet and our Executive Council is encouraging for us," George Manuel, President of the National Indian Brotherhood, told Prime Minister Trudeau.

"We are deeply concerned about the Civil Service developing and implementing policies without our involvement and consent, we are alarmed that some of these policies may terminate or abrogate our special rights and special status." Mr. Manuel stated.

"We are proposing and recommending certain process and policies to your Cabinet which we, will discuss and negotiate and hopefully reach some agreement," Mr. Manuel said.

Economic Development

A steady job and reasonable standards of living are basic rights to all Canadians.

For the vast majority of Indian people in Canada today, the opposite seems to be the developing trend.

Unemployment ranges from 50 to 80 per cent depending on seasonable employment adjustments, the highest of any particular group in Canada.

Welfare payments paid by the Department of Indian Affairs to unemployables are projected to exceed $35 million for this fiscal year (1974-75).

Average income, housing conditions, and health standards are far below the national standards.

Objectives of economic development for Indians includes the development of human, land, and natural resources in a manner that best serves and protects the interests of the Indian people.

The National Indian Brotherhood recommended the following changes to the Federal Cabinet. A commitment to aim at developing earning production of Indian people to that of the average non-Indian population with the hopes of alleviating the present poverty situation.

Education

There are three fundamental problems which block implementation of the Indian control of Indian education policy: lack of legislation, dual administration, and limited funding.

There is a fundamental contradiction between the expectations of the Indian people and the capabilities of Indian Affairs to implement the education policy, based on principles of parental responsibility and local control.

The Indian Act does not cover an agreement between the Minister and the Band Council, giving them the responsibility for the education of Indian children. The Indian's right to education is found in the Treaty.

The Indian education policy gives decision-making and implementation to Indian parents along with the federal government. In practice this is not working, public servants still exercise control and have the last word.

The Executive recommended that if exercise of control and decision-making by Indian parents is not in keeping with the operation of the government department, other methods of implementing the education policy will have to be examined.

A larger budget is needed for Indian education costs of a dual administrative structure put unnecessary pressure on bands. When budgets are cut, it is the band's operation not the departments - that suffers.

Funds for all levels of education operations should be protected from being tapped and should not be drawn on for other purposes.

The Executive Council recommended that the education budget be drawn up on the basis of needs and. priorities as determined by the Indian people and that all expenditures of education money be fully accounted for to the Indian people through their representatives.