International News Desk – Pleasing Results at the Aboriginal Summit

Paul Martin has promised $5 billion to various Aboriginal groups following last week’s First Ministers Meeting (FMM) in Kelowna. The Summit included representatives from Aboriginal Canadian populations as well as government officials. On the agenda were four major issues: Native housing, education, health care and relationships. After the two-day summit (November 24-25) National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Phil Fontaine, feels the meeting was a success. Native groups have had to deal with intolerable conditions for too long, according to Prime Minister Paul Martin, who said, “They have needs and those needs demand attention. It’s as simple as that.”

The summit followed a tense week in Parliament as first the NDP and then the Conservative Party pushed for a no-confidence vote that will undoubtedly lead to a winter election. NDP leader Jack Layton addressed the Aboriginal Leaders in a letter shortly before the Summit, assuring them that “Working together in a spirit of compromise, a proposal to delay the election until January was developed and has now been presented to the government.”

The delay lead to a successful FMM in which leaders of all Canadian Aboriginal origins met with Premiers and discussed ways to improve Aboriginal standards of living in four keys areas; health, education, relationships and housing. Each of these important issues was addressed at the FMM with 5 and 10-year plans drawn up for “closing the gap” between Aboriginal society and the rest of Canada. Aboriginal and government leaders are hopeful about the results of the meeting and with any luck, the promises made will hold strong through the looming federal election. Specific budgets are available on the CBC link below.

Paul Martin has also promised to hold a summit for the Native Women’s Association to address the rise in violence against native women. A date is not yet set.

References:
CBC Calgary; Ottawa Pledges $5 billion to Aboriginals – http://www.cbc.ca/calgary/story/ca-aboriginal-summit20051125.html
Jack Laytons Letter to Aboriginal Leaders, 16/11/05 – http://www.ndp.ca/page/1747
First Ministers and National Aboriginal Leaders Strengthening Relationships and Closing the Gap; Kelowna, BC, Nov. 24-25 2005 (PDF Document from http://www.afn.ca/article.asp?id=1826, link titled News Release)

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