Conservative cuts force closure of National Centre for First Nations Governance
The National Centre for First Nations Governance, which describes itself as the only organization in Canada working solely on First Nations governance, says the Stephen Harper government is forcing it to shut down.
According to the West Vancouver-based nonprofit organization, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada is eliminating its federal funding and it is slated to close by March 31, 2013.
“I am shocked and truly saddened by this decision,” Satsan, president of NCFNG, said in a news release issued on Monday (April 16). “This government is making a grave mistake in eliminating the only institution that works directly with First Nations leaders, managers, youth, elders and citizens, supporting them as they rebuild their own systems of self-determining governance. We are here to help our communities move beyond the Indian Act, restore economic prosperity and close the gap in living conditions between First Nations people and other Canadians. Demand for our work has been incredible.”
The release says the centre has been around for six years and has “engaged” over 300 First Nations during that time. NCFNG provides “nation rebuilding services” to First Nations, providing leaders with “hands-on tools for fully engaging their citizens and taking responsibility for their future”, according to the release.
“This government’s policy is to perpetuate the Indian Act and protect the Department of Aboriginal Affairs,” said Satsan, also known as Herb George. “Neither instrument is capable of governing First Nations. Canadians are far too familiar with the many examples of how the Act and the Department perpetually fails First Nations. This government’s decision is to maintain the Indian Act in an attempt to keep First Nations people on Crown reserves and separated from their lands, so that they can move ahead with resource extraction, development and exportation.”
Earlier this month, the National Aboriginal Health Organization announced that its funding has been cut by Health Canada, meaning it will close by June 30.