London

Ontario group wants Indigenous communities to oppose federal rights framework

The Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians says the proposed Indigenous recognition rights framework meant to affirm their rights will do the exact opposite. And the Ontario group wants to ensure the framework gains wide opposition prior to the next federal election slated for the fall of 2019.

The group hopes to gain opposition for the framework before the next federal election

The Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians is a non-profit organization that advocates for First Nations in Ontario. (CBC)

The Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians says the proposed Indigenous recognition rights framework meant to affirm their rights will do the exact opposite. And the Ontario group wants to ensure the framework gains wide opposition prior to the next federal election slated for the fall of 2019.

The framework, a promise made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, would prioritize section 35 of the Constitution Act, which supports rights and reconciliation.

It would also introduce 10 principles to build a renewed relationship with Indigenous communities including the recognition of Indigenous self-government and a distinctions-based approach to ensure unique rights are maintained.

The group said the framework could reverse First Nations cultural and heritage rights.

"This framework is basically trying to load everybody on a Canada ship. We're saying that this framework is going to be a threat. It's going to mean that the government is going to be delegating authority for First Nations rather than recognizing that First Nations already have that inherit authority," said Grand Chief Joel Abram. 

Getting word out

AIAI hosted an event Thursday at Oneida Nation of the Thames to educate community members about the framework and why it should be turned down.

"It's a slap in the face. It's an attempt to hide reconciliation with assimilation. We need to stop this because it's a starting point of something bigger of trying to take away a lot of our rights and what makes us Indigenous," said Ira Timothy, the communications coordinator for AIAI.

The group is backing 13 principles that support Indigenous rights. It's called 13 principles of respect, kindness and sharing: A First Nations Declaration of Nationhood.

The non-profit group has visited other communities across Ontario including Delaware First Nation.

A representative for the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett told CBC News that the government is committed to a renewed relationship with Indigenous people based on the recognition of "rights, respect, cooperation and partnership."

"We will fulfill the promise we made in treaties, in the Constitution, and in fully endorsing UNDRIP, for Indigenous peoples to have control over their priorities, their futures, their communities, and their economies because it is the right thing to do," the statement said.