On Monday, two days before the federal government's funding cuts to the Aboriginal Healing Foundation take effect -- six women staged a sit-in outside the Ottawa office of Indian and Northern Affairs minister Chuck Strahl.
The six, all from Montreal, pledged to remain there until a decision was made to restore funding to the AHF, but police removed them within an hour, charging them with trespassing.
A group of supporters from both Montreal and Ottawa gathered outside the building, steps from Parliament Hill with signs, banners and a megaphone, protesting the funding cuts and the hypocrisy of a government that apologizes for the residential schools and then within two years withdraws funding for healing programs.
The six women were all members of Missing Justice (Justice for Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women), but the action was not organized by the group. IPSMO (Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Movement Ottawa) helped get people in Ottawa out to the action. There was also a separate press conference held by First Nations leaders on Parliament Hill, demanding that the government continue to support the Aboriginal Healing Foundation; Manitoba MP Niki Ashton was requesting an emergency debate in the House of Commons on the issue.
The cuts to the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, announced in the 2010 federal budget, affect 134 community projects across the country that have been providing cultural healing services to Aboriginal people, projects which address the intergenerational impacts of the Canadian Indian Residential School System along with other issues.
See the online petition here.
Greg Macdougall is an Ottawa-based activist with IPSMO (Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Movement Ottawa), Common Cause, and Organizing For Justice (www.OrganizingForJustice.ca). He also does education work with www.EquitableEducation.ca
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