SETTLE LAND CLAIMS FASTER! Chambers of Commerce
Local chamber wants resolution by 2020
The local chamber of commerce was widely supported in B. C. last week in its resolution calling for the faster settlement of native land claims.
Local Chamber of Commerce Brantford Brant president Barry English presented the resolution to more than 300 delegates at the annual general meeting of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.
Speaking of the uncertainty over First Nations land claims, English said once land claims have been validated, there needs to be a faster process to get to a solution.
"The lengthy delay ... is excessive," English said in his presentation.
And that delay in southern Ontario has stalled economic development and threatened public safety, he said.
There are now 1,410 First Nation land claims in Canada with just 319 settled and 337 concluded. Others are still in negotiation or active litigation and almost 500 of them are under review.
Of the 29 land claims launched by Six Nations against Canada and Ontario in 1995, only four were validated by the federal government before the lawsuit was suspended in 2004. Only one claim has resulted in an offer from the federal government.
The local chamber's proposal calls on the federal government, provinces, territories and First Nations' communities to push the claims through to resolution by 2020.
Claims that are determined to be legitimate ones should be expedited and if an offer of compensation doesn't lead to a settlement within a year, the federal government should take the matter to court, where final compensation could be awarded.
Now that the local proposal has been accepted by the national group, the resolution will be included in the Canadian chamber's advocacy plan.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is regarded as the country's largest and most influential business lobby organization.
Copyright © 2009 Brantford Expositor
This is very significant. UNTIL SIX NATIONS STEPPED FORWARD and interfered with development on land under claim, local businesses, Chambers of Commerce and municipal governments have been able to ignore land claims and carry on development as usual. This occurred with the quiet blessing of federal governments, which colluded to sustain local development by stalling and dragging out negotiations for decades, and provincial governments that continued to approve developments on land under claim.
It is no secret that Canada spends more money 'negotiating' and preventing settlement of land claims than it does on paying down these long outstanding debts. Fulfilling the terms of our treaties and other legal obligations to Indigenous Nations is not negotiable: Aboriginal Rights must be respected, according to our own laws.
In the last 3+ years, Six Nations people have stopped several developments in Caledonia and Brantford on land under claim, enduring physical harm (police tasers, batons, 'takedowns', incarceration) and criminal prosecution as a result. Still they persisted, women and youths the driving force, interfering with local economies and with local development plans for land in dispute. This pressure on local economies has finally brought local businesses - the powers that actually run Canada - to speak out via the Brantford and now Canadian Chambers of Commerce.
Chambers of Commerce represent the businesses and industries of Canada, those who employ much of the population and drive the robust economy of Canada, the profits gleaned free of charge from Indigenous land. Federal governments can, and have, placated and ignored the rights of Indigenous Nations, to avoid interfering with local economies and provincial authority. It is only by directly interfering with local economies that Six Nations has caused a disruption of this collusion of all levels of government in evading our laws.
Chambers of Commerce are now lobbying the federal government for action on 'land claims', a powerful lobby indeed. At the same time as they pressure governments, perhaps they will also look to their own localities to ensure that they themselves are doing everything in their power to resolve these issues: IT IS LOCAL DEVELOPMENT THAT INFRINGES on the rights of Indigenous communities, and it is local and provincial business and governments that hold the power, and indeed the duty, to consult with First Nations and to accommodate their rights AT THE LOCAL DEVELOPMENT PLANNING STAGE.