First Nations leaders hold rally in Montreal to get attention of political parties
Aboriginal leaders say it’s past time their communities’ issues are discussed in the campaign
About 100 people gathered in downtown Montreal Friday afternoon to call on federal party leaders to address and discuss aboriginal issues during this election campaign.
"It's a little shameful from the parties running [in] the campaign that no one has talked about indigenous issues...We should be ashamed of the situation because we are not treating indigenous people with respect," said a woman at the rally, Émilie Joly.
"We are part of this country — we have been here for a very long time. As we move closer to the election, the voters need to hopefully take a better look at what the parties have to offer when we take a look at First Nation issues in this country," said Akwesasne Grand Chief Abram Benedict.
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First Nations leaders at the rally said it's time to tackle issues such as improving access to schools, health care, better living conditions, settling territorial disputes and strengthening the communities' partnership with Ottawa.
"We need to be heard. Once the election is done with, we're an afterthought. That has to stop," said Ghislain Picard, Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador.
"What we need to have is a party or government that is willing to sit down and prepare a plan with us."