TORONTO, June 14, 2007 - The Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF) welcomes Tuesday's announcement by the Federal Government to put reforms in place to speed up resolution on the land claims backlog. This initiative has been a long time in coming and will hopefully lead to a reduction in the foot-dragging and frustrations which have led to tensions between the First Nations and other communities.
"We also hope that the Federal Government considers adding a strong public education campaign as part of this initiative," commented Dr. Ayman Al-Yassini, Senior Executive Vice President of the CRRF. "As we have seen with Caledonia and a number of other locations, there is considerable misunderstanding among Canadians about the land claims process which has served to fuel racism."
The Foundation believes that if the tribunal is to fulfill its mandate and meet the objectives which are set by the Prime Minister, there is a need to staff it by "impartial judges". We hope that those selected will be respectful of the traditions and people of the First Nations and that great care be taken to ensure that they do. At the same time, the process must be at arm's length from the Government.
"Finally, we sincerely hope that the process will take into account the claims of the off-reserve community," concludes Yassini. "All too often they are ignored in negotiations, partly because of an Act that should no longer be in effect."