Today (June 29) was the National Day of Action as called by the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) in Canada. I was in Regina, SK for the event and I decided (previously) to attend the event they hosted here – a march.
Part 1: March of Solidarity
We did a march from the First Nations University to the Legislation building in Regina – which is a fairly nice walk. Leading the group was a band called ‘Red Dog’ – a drum group that plays the drum and sings Aboriginal cultural music. They were followed by the dignitaries, the elders, the veterans, and then the crowd. I really enjoyed it – had a great time with everyone else in the march.
Part 2: Legislative Building Speeches and Lunch
After the march we heard from a lot of speakers including the FSIN (Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations) chief, the vice-chiefs, the premier of Saskatchewan, the opposition leader, and a few local Liberal party leaders (no Conservatives attended). Then we had lunch. The whole thing was televised and will hit the airwaves throughout Canada today – and I think I made the local news.
What was it all about? A few issues were discussed but they all focused around the appalling conditions First Nations people are dealing with (thus the need for solidarity) which includes gang problems, suicide issues on reserves, poverty, treaty rights educations, education funding, housing, and employment/economic opportunities. Here are few examples:
(a) Kelowna Accord: Was a bill that was almost passed under the Liberal party that would of seen 6.1 billion dollars go to the solution of poverty within Aboriginal communities – this bill has since been scrapped by the Conservative government and has never passed.
(b) Education Funding Cap: Currently the Canadian Government has a cap on funsing to Aboriginal education funding of 2% (since 1996 and was even lower prior to this) and has not changed even with the rising Aboriginal population. The problem is the Aboriginal population is the youngest in the country and could desperately use that funding to allow for more economic participation – top that off – this is a highly regaded area by Aboriginal communities as a ‘treaty right’ (a contract from the late 1800’s – around 12 of them were signed in Canada).
That is what I did this morning – I showed my solidarity to the movement (a peaceful march in Saskatchewan) since I believe in the actions being called upon – namely with regards to ending poverty in my community…I really have little choice in that matter…it affects me deeply. So I did what I could – support the people around me and the issues at hand that need to be dealt with – in a participative way amongst all communities in Canada (this being an awareness issue). That was my morning today!