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Ovide Mercredi Responds To The Royal Commission On Aboriginal Peoples

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      APRIL 1993      v22 n04 p07  
The National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations has expressed "profound disappointment" with the second report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples.

"The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples was called to deal with the crises facing Aboriginal peoples in Canada. It is a terrible disappointment that at the end of the second round no concrete and substantive solutions have been advocated," said the National Chief.

"There is a growing crisis in the country for the Aboriginal peoples. Where is the voice of the Royal Commission when we need to hear it? Where is their determination to end the human misery and despair?"

"We have suicides in Davis Inlet, Big Cover, northern Ontario and right across the country. Some of our reserves are being raided by the RCMP. Treaties are being cancelled in Manitoba. Land rights are being extinguished in the Yukon and Northwest Territories. And yet, the Royal Commission has not proposed solutions that provide answers today."

"I can't believe that they have spent all this time and produced only this."

"All we hear is what the Aboriginal peoples want. The Royal Commission refuses to take a position on anything. Of course, the treaties must be honoured. We have been saying that over and over again. But what position does the Royal Commission take. We have pages and pages just repeating what we have said for years. We have no response, no dialogue."

"There are serious and controversial issues that have to be faced, but this Commission seems intent upon avoiding controversy and therefore cannot treat the real problems that confront Aboriginal peoples everyday of their lives."

"Everyone in Canada knows that there is an Indian health crisis. We need a Royal Commission that will demand today that the solutions that Aboriginal peoples have put forward can be applied and implemented immediately. We cannot wait for this while our people are dying. You don't sit around at such a time deciding upon priorities. Life and death is a priority."

"Aboriginal people have an internationally protected right of self-determination. The Commission is even afraid to say that our rights are recognized in international law and must be respected by Canada."

"We have always been concerned that the Royal Commission would provide governments with the means simply to study our problems and excuse them from taking any concrete action. That is exactly what is happening. This report confirms our worst fears."