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Missing women, education, tobacco at heart of demonstrations

Sudburians took part in the National Day of Resistance march planned in communities across Canada today.
Sudburians took part in the National Day of Resistance march planned in communities across Canada today.

A Facebook page for today's march cites a number of issues participants want to bring to light, including the First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act, the ongoing concern for the number of missing and murdered First Nations women and the Contraband Tobacco Act.

The group accuses the Conservative government of using the education act as part of its agenda “to eliminate First Nations' rights at all levels.”

“Bill C-33, the FNCFNEA gives the Minister of Indian Affairs full power and authority over First Nation education from Pre-K to post-secondary,” the page information states. “French and English will be mandatory languages at First Nation schools and First Nation language and culture must be approved by the minister.”

They ask that First Nations people keep their children home from school today as a boycott and to take to social media by posting pictures of their children in front of schools holding signs with slogans such as “Our schools, our kids, our education.”

Saying Canada has turned a blind eye to Aboriginal female victims of violent crime, the group has joined the call to push for a national inquiry into the issue. Small towns in the country are “filled with perverse predators” who prey on vulnerable Indigenous women and are rarely brought to justice, the groups says.

“Women is a national disgrace and we want to hear from anyone who has lost a female member in their family,” the message states. “Tell us why women are an important part of Indigenous culture and why you think Canada should open a public inquiry.”

The group is also taking issue with the Contraband Tobacco Act, which the federal government is pushing as a means of stopping the traffic in illegal tobacco. Opponents of the bill call it an attack on First Nations rights as it indirectly targets tobacco sellers on reserve land.

“Canada has no right to tax First Nation citizens for buying and selling tobacco,” the group says on the Facebook page. “By making it an indictable offense, the RCMP and Provincial Police can raid and arrest family-owned business people, if they sell any type of tobacco on or off-reserve.”