NEWS

Idle No More protests mark proclamation's 250th anniversary

10/07/2013 01:30 EDT | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST
Idle No More supporters gathered outside the Canadian Museum of Civilization on Monday as part of a worldwide mass day of action to mark the 250th anniversary of the Royal Proclamation of 1763, a historic document that legally mandated Canada to recognize indigenous land rights.

The rallies also coincide with the official visit by United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples James Anaya who begins his nine-day visit to Canada to gauge the progress of the human rights situation of the indigenous peoples of this country.

The National Chief for the Assembly of First Nations Shawn Atleo said the anniversary was an opportunity to reflect and reset the relationship between the Crown and First Nations.

"For 250 years the laws and policies of federal governments have been paternalistic at best, and assimilationist at worst. We must resolve the long-standing issues of first nations control over our lands and our lives," Atleo said during a news conference in Ottawa Monday morning.

Atleo said he welcomed the public statements made by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Gov. Gen. David Johnston on this important day. 

“On this anniversary, it is important that we honour the critical role that aboriginals have played in shaping Canada as we know it today," Harper said.

The prime minister noted that as the youngest and fastest growing segment of this country's population it is "in our collective interest to help ensure that aboriginal youth receive the education and skills training they need to secure good jobs and prosper."

Harper said he looked forward to "making further progress together."

Johnston said today's anniversary is "an important occasion for all Canadians — aboriginal and non-aboriginal alike."

The Royal Proclamation of 1763 as enshrined in our constitution "recognizes a fundamental truth about Canada: that we are stronger when we respect one another’s differences and when we work together," Johnston said.

The Governor General encouraged all Canadians to learn about this "essential" part of our history.

Atleo and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt will spend the afternoon meeting with students in Ottawa to commemorate the importance and significance of the Royal Proclamation of 1763. 

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