We are nations says AFN candidate Gabriel

first_imgAPTN National NewsTORONTO–Perhaps best known for her role as spokesperson during the 1990 Oka Crisis, Ellen Gabriel said Canada must change the way it deals with First Nations.“The tiny little box that we’ve been put in by the Indian Act is not working. We have a broken relationship with Canada and we need to decolonize that relationship,” she said.But Gabriel said change has to happen in First Nation communities too.“Because of the residential schools, because of the Indian Act, we need to restore the places of women in our communities. We talk about the violence in our communities, we need men to stand up. Not behind us, but beside us as our brothers. Stop the violence in our communities,” she said.Gabriel is one of eight candidates vying for the position of national chief of the AFN. She was speaking during the candidate’s forum during the AFN gathering in Toronto where chiefs will vote for national chief on Wednesday.Gabriel said the AFN needs to remember who it represents.“We should not be going to Canada who we have disputes with. If we have a dispute with one another it should not be up to Canada and their courts who have a limited scope in their interpretation of what our rights are. We should be going to the international level, because our treaties and our agreements are international agreements. We are nations,” she said.Gabriel touched on topics like protecting Indigenous languages, the importance of First Nation controlled child and family service organizations, and calls for a national inquiry into the hundreds of missing and murdered Indigenous women.“In 2006, the Union of Chiefs of Police vowed that they would create a protocol on how to deal with the missing and murdered Aboriginal women. Here it is 2012 and they’ve done nothing. They have done nothing because it is in their best interests to keep women oppressed,” she said.Gabriel also said the AFN must support the community of Barriere Lake in Quebec which has been battling to govern traditionally and First Nations fighting tar-sands development in Alberta.But she stressed that she’s not against First Nations benefiting from their own lands.“But I’m against development that hurts and exploits our lands so that we can longer drink our water. That poisons the water, the moose and the fishes that we eat. It has to be sustainable development,” she said.last_img