Wednesday, March 31, 2010

According to the CBC our "beloved" Prime Munster Sneaky Stevie has "granted" aboriginal leaders from across the country a private meeting today, the day when funding for the Aboriginal Healing Foundation is ending. An emergency debate last evening in the House of Commons proved unable to dissuade the government from this action. SS's previous "apology" to native people for the residential schools scandal rings a little more hollow today. Or maybe he thinks that all the healing is done. Meanwhile protests, petitions and pressures have sprung up across the country in favour of keeping the Foundation going. One was in Ottawa where 6 women briefly blockaded federal Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs Chuck Strahl's office. Here's the story from the Ontario platformist site Linchpin.
6 women arrested at sit-in at Chuck Strahl’s office
Six women activists, shortly after staging a sit-in against cuts to aboriginal healing and then being arrested, charged and released, March 29. PHOTO: Greg Macdougall
by Greg Macdougall

Ottawa - On Monday March 29 - two days before the federal government's funding cuts to the Aboriginal Healing Foundation (AHF) take effect - six women from Montreal staged a sit-in outside of Indian and Northern Affairs minister Chuck Strahl's office in Ottawa.

“By cutting the funding to the Aboriginal Healing Foundation and having us arrested for protesting these cuts, Harper is denying effective services to thousands of residential school survivors,” said Maya Rolbin-Ghanie, a member of the Montreal-based grassroots group Missing Justice who was arrested in the protest.

They pledged to remain there until a decision was made to restore funding to the AHF, but police arrested and removed them within an hour, charging them with trespassing.

“Harper and Strahl’s budget cuts affect 134 organizations across Canada, including the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal,” said Monica van Schaik, another Missing Justice member who was arrested.

The AHF programs have been providing cultural healing services to Aboriginal Peoples that address the inter-generational impacts of the Canadian Indian residential school system along with other issues.

“That Strahl would have us arrested less than an hour after our sit-in began shows that this is something he doesn’t want the public to talk about,” van Schaik added.

A group of supporters from both Montreal and Ottawa gathered outside the building, steps from Parliament Hill, with signs, banners and a megaphone, protesting the funding cuts.

“It’s been less than two years since Prime Minister Harper’s apology to survivors of the residential schools, yet the Conservative government is ready to shut down programs specifically aimed at helping the healing the Prime Minister spoke about,” Rolbin-Ghanie said before her arrest.

Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Movement Ottawa helped get people in Ottawa out to the action.

There was also a separate press conference held by First Nations leaders on Parliament Hill, demanding that the government continue to support the Aboriginal Healing Foundation. Manitoba MP Niki Ashton was requesting an emergency debate in the House of Commons on the issue.



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