Draft declaration for Spence calls for clear goals on First Nations priorities

Associated Press

OTTAWA - Opposition leaders and prominent chiefs are working on a declaration meant to end Theresa Spence's 43-day hunger protest. The Attawapiskat chief has been subsisting on fish broth and medicinal tea since Dec. 11 in an effort to draw public and government attention to the plight of Canada's First Nations.

The current draft of the declaration — titled, "First Nations: Working Towards Fundamental Change" — includes 13 priorities:

— An immediate meeting between the Governor General, federal and provincial governments and all First Nations to discuss treaty and non-treaty relationships.

— Clear work plans with firm target outcomes, timelines, and goals for the short, medium and long term, with immediate focus on housing.

— Frameworks for treaty implementation and enforcement on a nation-to-nation basis.

— Reform the comprehensive claims policy so it is based on inherent aboriginal rights.

— Work towards resource revenue sharing by involving provincial and territorial governments.

— Better oversight of the environment to ensure sustainable development.

— A thorough review and consultation of two federal omnibus budget bills to ensure they are consistent with constitutional protections of aboriginal rights.

— Ensure all federal legislation has the free, prior and informed consent of First Nations.

— Ensure federal funding is fair, sustainable, indexed and not subject to arbitrary caps.

— Set up a national inquiry on violence against indigenous women.

— More investment in building schools as well as funding parity with off-reserve schools, and extra funding for First Nations languages.

— Change federal oversight of First Nations by setting up a dedicated cabinet committee and secretariat within the Privy Council Office.

— Full implementation of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

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