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Georges Erasmus: Deal with us now or suffer the consequences!

Georges Henry Erasmus has a dream: Self-government for the native peoples of Canada. The charismatic native leader has devoted his life to fighting tirelessly for the right of his people to control their own lives and the land they live on. From his early days as the president of the Dene Nation or as the co-chair of the historic Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, Erasmus has never swayed from his vision. It's a dream that has yet to be fully realized.

It's one of his most famous speeches.
Georges Erasmus has just been re-elected National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations after finishing an initial three-year term. At the gathering in Edmonton he calls for action on native land claims, self-government and constitutional questions.
The issues are not new but what is new is the frustration and anger in Erasmus's speech. He warns the federal government to get serious about native rights or suffer the consequences.

"Canada, if you do not deal with this generation of leaders and seek peaceful solutions, then we cannot promise that you are going to like the kind of violent political action that we can just about guarantee the next generation is going to bring to you."
When CBC's Peter Downie asks about Erasmus's newfound rage, he says it's due to the amazing frustration he feels at the government's inactions in dealing with native issues.
• Georges Erasmus's words would prove prophetic. In the summer of 1990, the Oka Crisis catapulted native land rights into the international spotlight. It would be one of the most violent confrontations between native peoples and the government in modern Canadian history. The crisis was sparked by the proposed expansion of a golf course on Mohawk burial ground. The 78-day standoff resulted in the fatal shooting of police constable Marcel Lemay.
Medium: Television
Program: Midday
Broadcast Date: June 2, 1988
Guest(s): Georges Erasmus
Host: Peter Downie
Duration: 6:30

Last updated: June 11, 2012

Page consulted on August 21, 2012

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