Susan's Letter

January 11, 2013 

An Open Letter to 
Terence Young 
Member of Parliament, 
165 Cross Avenue, 
Oakville, Ontario 
Dear Sir: 

Today I am fasting in support of the Aboriginal and First Nations people. It is time to end the broken relationship between First Nations people and Canada and the land.

I am a member of the Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC). We suggest that the Prime Minister is failing Native people again, by not engaging in the mandated consultative process prior to introduction of legislation that impacts First Nations rights, and then initially refusing to meet with their leaders to discuss impending legislation.

In 2010, Stephen Harper’s government did Canadians proud by finally endorsing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, representing a commitment from the Harper government to work together with indigenous leaders on mutual problems. In 2008, the Prime Minister apologized for Canada’s residential school policy, saying “The Government of Canada sincerely apologizes and asks the forgiveness of the Aboriginal peoples of this country for failing them so profoundly.”

I applaud Stephen Harper’s decision to meet with First Nations leaders on January 11, but I would applaud louder if it had happened from goodwill and intention rather than in response to protest. I encourage you to take this as an opportunity for dialogue and re-building. The Chiefs desire a process for ongoing treaty negotiations with milestones such that there is real progress to honouring the treaty relationship.

I have already written to you about the bundling of legislation into omnibus budget bills, passed without adequate consultation and study. You have indicated that this is an efficient manner in to advance your parties’ legislative agenda. Many Canadians, beyond those participating in this January 11, 2014 International Day of Action, see that your party is undermining our democracy, the cornerstones of which are open consultation, careful study and open debate of legislation.

I, along with all members of Reclaim Our Democratic Canada, encourage you refrain from relying on omnibus bills in principle by voting against any such future Omnibus bill your party opts to advance.

Finally, many peoples of Canada, not just First Nations, are honestly concerned for our health and well-being in light of natural resource development. Economic reliance on resource extraction is proving to have a devastating impact on the environment upon which we all depend for life. The most recent case in point is the recently released Queen’s University study that proves oil sands development has a farther reaching toxic impact on our natural environment than previously thought.

The grassroots First Nations peoples behind Idle No More are calling on their leaders to stand united for Mother Earth. Economic development must be balanced very carefully with environmental protection. This one major reason I support and will continue to support this movement.

Please take this moment to reflect on what you, as our elected representative, can to do to address these issues.

Yours very truly,

Susan Berry
Barrister and Solicitor
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