TORONTO, February 4, 2002 - Potential to seriously affect Aboriginal/non-Aboriginal relations. The Chair of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF), the Honourable Lincoln M. Alexander has written to the Premier of British Columbia, the Honourable Gordon Campbell, urging him to make a declaration that the results of the Referendum on Treaty Negotiations will be "null and void". Mr Alexander suggests that by taking this action, the Premier would be signalling a more productive and positive approach to future negotiations with First Nations in the province.
Mr Alexander is also urging British Columbians to support the call by the BC Union of Indian Chiefs and the First Nations Summit, as well as other non-Aboriginal organizations, to boycott the referendum.
"Most of the principles on which the BC government is seeking guidance are issues that have been dealt with by the courts," Mr Alexander said. "Most Canadians, I believe, accept the premise of mutual respect when negotiating with First Nations, and are more prepared to accept a government-to-government relationship. This referendum essentially takes a step back from this approach."
In his letter, Mr Alexander noted that the Referendum, among other things:
* contravenes the spirit of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP), which urges Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples working together to resolve issues;
* goes against the Royal Proclamation of 1763,
* sets about re-subjugating First Nations to a colonized status,
* is an attempt to circumvent judgements and rulings of courts of law, including the Supreme Court of Canada, and
* has racist underpinnings.
"This referendum comes at a time when most Canadians want effective negotiations and positive, peaceful resolutions of outstanding issues with the First Nations," says, Dr Karen Mock, the executive director of the CRRF. "One has to wonder whether it isn't racially motivated, because it certainly is having a very negative effect on relations with the First Nations. If there is any doubt, one has only to look at the strange bedfellows in the white supremacist movement who are in favour of the referendum."
The Foundation is also sending copies of the letter to the Prime Minister, the federal minister for Indian and Northern Affairs, the President of the BC Union of Chiefs and the co-chairs of the First Nations Summit. A copy of the letter is available on the CRRF's website at: www.crr.ca.