Natives threaten nationwide roadblocks (July 19, 2001)

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HALIFAX, N.S. — Native leaders are threatening to bring traffic on Canadian highways to a halt from coast-to-coast if the Indian Affairs Minister doesn’t alter his plan to overhaul the Indian Act.

“We’ll block the highway from Prince Edward Island to Vancouver,” Millbrook First Nation chief, Lawrence Paul told local media. “We can bring Canada to a standstill, (but) we do not want to go that route.”

Those comments were made after 300 chiefs from an Assembly of First Nations (AFN) convention voted unanimously to urge Indian Affairs Minister Robert Nault to stop consultations with aboriginals on the changes he has in store.

AFN national chief, Matthew Coon Come, says that he has blocked highways in the past, and isn’t afraid to do so again if Nault ignores the Aboriginals’ demands.

However, Nault says he will not back off with his plan to overhaul the Indian Act. “National consultations will go forward as scheduled,” Nault said yesterday in a statement.

Meanwhile, the Chiefs have given Nault 30 days to abandon the talks and instead, they want him to work with the assembly to allow them more input on issues such as self-government, aboriginal and treaty rights and economic needs.

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