Elementary Teachers Support First Nations’ Land Rights


Elementary Teachers Support First Nations' Land Rights


Copyright © 2008 Canada NewsWire Ltd. All rights reserved.


TORONTO, May 30 /CNW/ — TORONTO, May 30 /CNW/ – Elementary teachers applaud the Ontario Court of Appeal decision to release native leaders who had been jailed for protesting mineral development by mining companies on traditional First Nations land.


"As a federation which promotes and supports social justice in the broader community, we were shocked by the harsh sentences imposed on First Nations people who were simply engaging in a peaceful protest," said Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) President David Clegg.


Clegg was referring to the six month sentences originally given to Ardoch Algonquin First Nation spokesperson Robert Lovelace and six members of the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug.


Clegg noted that the Ipperwash Inquiry, requested by the current Liberal government in 2003, produced a report strongly recommending that provincial laws, policies, and practices be reformed to ensure they are consistent with the government's legal obligations towards indigenous peoples.


"These legal obligations, which have been reinforced by over a decade of Supreme Court decisions, include the duty of consultation, accommodation, and consent of indigenous peoples around the use of treaty lands. This duty applies to mining rights, even when land claims are still in dispute," said Clegg.


"We strongly urge the government to honour its own guidelines on how mining companies should consult with First Nations at every stage of the mineral development process," Clegg said.


The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario represents 73,000 elementary public school teachers and education workers across the province and is the largest teacher federation in Canada.