June 26, 2010

NATIONAL ABORIGINAL DAY, People's Voice Editorial, June 16-30, 2010 issue of People's Voice




(The following article is from the June 16-30, 2010 issue of People's Voice, Canada's leading communist newspaper. Articles can be reprinted free if the source is credited. Subscription rates in Canada: $30/year, or $15 low income rate; for U.S. readers - $45 US per year; other overseas readers - $45 US or $50 CDN per year. Send to: People's Voice, c/o PV Business Manager, 706 Clark Drive, Vancouver, BC, V5L 3J1.)

People's Voice Editorial

June 21 is National Aboriginal Day, a date to celebrate the struggles of Aboriginal peoples for social and economic equality, and for their national rights. This year, we salute the principled opposition by Ontario First Nations against the so-called "Harmonised Sales Tax," which threatens historic treaty rights. An important victory has been achieved with the news that the federal government will restore $4 million in funding to the First Nations University in Regina.

But the challenges facing Aboriginal peoples under the racist oppression of the Canadian state remain enormous. For example, legislation tabled in Parliament will not meet the objective of ensuring that First Nations have access to safe drinking water. To Canada's shame, 114 Aboriginal communities remain under Drinking Water Advisories and 49 water systems are still classified as high risk. "Every family in this country should have access to clean, safe drinking water and First Nations should not be an exception," says Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo, but the Harper Tory government, like its predecessors, continues to drag its feet.

Other facts to consider: life expectancies for Aboriginal peoples are 5-7 years below the rest of the population; infant mortality rates are 1.5 times higher than the average; the suicide rate of First Nations youth is six times higher than the Canadian average, and the tuberculosis rate - a reliable yardstick for poverty - is 8 to 10 times higher. And the federal government still refuses to sign the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

But despite Harper's feeble protests that the government faces difficult fiscal problems, the Tories are about to purchase 65 U.S. fighter jets from Lockheed-Martin, at a cost of $9 billion. Apparently the ability to kill people in other countries is an urgent priority, but improving the lives of Aboriginal people is not.

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