January 21, 2004 Burnaby, BC – Musqueam traditional territory
“ We have had it with being harrassed and threatened, with being pushed to the point of economic genocide. We have never sold or surrendered our Rights and Title. Every aboriginal person in BC will stand side by side and fight for our social, cultural and economic survival.” stated Edwin Newman, Chairman of the newly formed BC First Nations Taxation Rights Alliance.
After a meeting with several senior representatives of the Canada Revenue Agency and some 146 aboriginal participants,from more than 50 organizations, the Native Brotherhood of BC (NBBC), the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) , the First Nations Summit (FNS) and urban aboriginal organizations have agreed to collectively fight for the protection of their historic rights to exemption from taxation. Chris Cook, NBBC President said “This Alliance of treaty and non- treaty, river, coastal, interior and inland aboriginal peoples is a powerful signal that our people are beyond frustrated with government policies and actions that attack and destroy aboriginal rights. Our people are suffering too much and we need to end that – You have all heard of Oka and Burnt Church. Today we are giving notice, to the Federal and Provincial governments, this is our Oka.”
Over 2 and ½ days of meetings closed to the press and outsiders, an action plan and strategy to move forward has been developed. One part of this strategy, which will be presented to the First Nations Summit in March, will be a request to withdraw from Treaty discussions until this taxation matter is satisfactorally adressed.
UBCIC President Stewart Phillip concluded, “Our Aboriginal Rights are collective and we will collectively fight for them. In this meeting and others I have attended it is abundantly clear that despite the best efforts of our people in many government processes our Aboriginal Rights and Title are not being respected and our people continue to suffer intolerably. This is a pivotal time for Aboriginal peoples to take whatever action is required to change that.”
Edwin Newman (604) 913-2997 Chris Cook (604) 913-3372 Stewart Phillip (604 )684-0231