A year after native groups held a Day of Action to address “grinding poverty” among his people, National Chief Phil Fontaine said yesterday that another will be held in Ottawa on May 29, because the problem has only gotten worse.
Fontaine claims that just as many, if not more, First Nations children live in poverty; communities go without clean drinking water; and the housing situation on many reserves is deteriorating. The Assembly of First Nations believes the federal government is not taking the issues they brought up last year seriously.
“We’ve tried to be reasonable, rational and respectful. We’ve presented plans that can make progress, but they seem to be ignored,” said Fountain. “I don’t know what the message is in that approach from the government, but it’s disappointing.”
“Last year we wanted to raise awareness about the problems of poverty facing First Nations people,” said AFN planner Daniel Wilson. “This year, we are saying that there are some straightforward, concrete solutions to these problems.”
Last year, more than 100 events took place across Canada. Fontaine said most of those events were peaceful and lawful and that local organizers are planning a similar demonstration here.
“I know there are people saying we have to become more aggressive, but I don’t know that would work to our advantage in the long run,” he said. “We can’t change things working in isolation from other Canadians.”