FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2008
CHIEFS OF ONTARIO EXPRESS DISAPROVAL OF QUEBEC IMPRISONMENT OF BARRIERE LAKE LEADER
OTTAWA— Earlier this fall Ontario Regional Chief Angus Toulouse, on behalf of First Nations in Ontario, communicated by letter to Premier Jean Charest and Prime Minister Stephen Harper that the use of force against peaceful civil protestors was contrary to the goal of reconciliation between First Nations peoples and federal and provincial governments. In addition, at a gathering of the Chiefs in Assembly in November, First Nations leadership again expressed their concern regarding the use of force against the same protestors.
On the same day that the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed an appeal of a decision earlier this year by the Ontario Court of Appeal concerning the ordered release of aboriginal leaders from jail for their actions in asserting their rights, it was reported that a First Nation leader from Barrier Lake was sentenced to a 45 day jail term for his actions for asserting the rights of his people.
"All Ontarians know that the use of force and imprisonment against First Nations people involved in the assertion of constitutional rights situations is unacceptable," says Regional Chief Angus Toulouse. "We have learned this through the Ipperwash Inquiry and its recommendations and through the court proceedings involving aboriginal leadership in Ontario. The Ontario government learned this and it appears the federal and Quebec governments must also learn this."
Regional Chief Toulouse is calling on the government of Quebec to initiate proceedings leading to the release of jailed Barriere Lake leader Benjamin Nottaway. "All governments in Canada must understand that when First Nations communities assert their rights they are acting in accordance with the Rule of Law and the application of violence and imprisonment against people trying to assert their constitutional rights is contrary to the Rule of Law," says Ontario Regional Chief Angus Toulouse.
The Chiefs in Ontario, comprising the 133 First Nations in Ontario, is a political forum and secretariat for collective decision-making, action and advocacy.
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Chiefs of Ontario