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Treaty rights deserve support

To the editor:

The recent court decision in favour of Métis hunting and gathering rights (R v. Powley) is a victory for everyone. When the law is upheld based upon legal, historical, and moral principles, everyone wins.

Clearly this court decision is based upon knowledge not ignorance, competence instead of misinformation. This decision reaffirms the historical and legal relationships between the Crown and first peoples.

The court clearly and correctly ignored the jingoists and fear-mongers in government, and that part of Canadian society who attempt to cast racism in the veneer of “equal rights for everyone.” The negative stereotype of the “brown-skinned super citizen” with “more” rights than anyone else is wrong, ignorant, and misinformed.

Anti-Indian, anti-treaty governments and groups are advancing those views. This is not only wrong, it is dangerous.

Treaties, once understood, deserve to be correctly viewed and accepted as the last remaining tools against unfettered encroachment and environmental degradation by multinational corporations and the governments who seek to ignore and break the supreme laws of the land.

Treaties are the last vestiges of hope for environmental protection to ensure clean air, land, and water for many generations to come. Treaties and land rights are not the enemies. The enemies are ignorance and greed.

Likewise, aboriginal communities and their leaders must resist the temptation to misplace their obligation and responsibility to protect and honour the land as the spirit and intent of treaties under the guise of “governance,” “resource sharing,” or “partnerships.”

Multinational mining and forestry interests, along with the provincial and federal governments, are working hand-in-hand to overtake aboriginal communities and lands with promises of riches, jobs, and the like.

While the people may take home a wage, the company will always take away the profits. What will be left is a legacy of contaminated waters and devastated forests.

This is tantamount to sharing complicity in the “environmental abrogation” of our own treaties!

It is time for all peoples of all colours to join to protect what we have left for our grandchildren. One way to do that is to support treaties as tools for environmental protection. The Métis court victory is another opportunity for all to stand as allies in the struggle to ensure a healthy and sustainable common future.

The Métis always have shared the same responsibility and obligation to the land and environmental protection as everyone else. Their opportunities to make a difference now have added legal strength.

That deserves support. It is time for all of us to reach across issues and interests.

Through broad citizen support of the Métis and treaties, you could support a future that includes clean air, land, and water for everyone. If we wait too long, all that will be left to fight over will be poisoned fish and animals, poisoned air, land, and water.

We need to work together to protect what we have left for the sake of our grandchildren.

Signed,

Al Hunter

Manitou Rapids

(Rainy River F.N.)

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