Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council President Cliff Atleo says that the PM Stephen Harper has picked a fight with budget cuts to aboriginal groups country-wide. The NTC will see a 60 per cent cut to it's operating budget starting in 2014.

Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council President Cliff Atleo says that the PM Stephen Harper has picked a fight with budget cuts to aboriginal groups country-wide. The NTC will see a 60 per cent cut to it's operating budget starting in 2014.

Feds pick fight with aboriginals over budget cuts — Atleo

The federal government is slashing 60 per cent of the NTC's operating budget in 2014 and that's picking a fight, president Cliff Atleo said.

The Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council (NTC) is facing a 60 per cent cut to its federal funding and it’s not going down without swinging, president Cliff Atleo said.

“I think that the federal government has picked a fight with us and we’re prepared to take them on,” Atleo said Thursday outside the tribal council’s office building.

Atleo wasn’t referring to just Nuu-chah-nulth: all aboriginal groups across the country faced cuts.

In a show of solidarity, Atleo was flanked by AFN BC Regional Chief Jody Wilson-Rabould, Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs president Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, and First Nations Summit Task Group member Dan Smith. Their groups are seeing a 10 per cent cut to their funding.

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Minister John Duncan announced the cuts to aboriginal organizations and tribal councils country-wide last September.

The cuts will trigger in 2014. The NTC’s budget will be reduced from $1.25 million to $500,000. The move will impact program and service delivery to more than 8,000 Nuu-chah-nulth people on the west coast of Vancouver Island as well as those living in urban centres.

The NTC  delivers programs including fisheries, economic development, education, social development and the news publication Hashilthsa. The organization employs 154 people including contractors, and jobs are on the line if cuts proceed.

The tribal council will have to cut at least 25 jobs, Atleo said. “We’re one of the larger employers in the Alberni Valley; this affects all of us,” he added. In a later interview, Atleo said the number was abstract and that nothing was cast in stone yet. “There’s still things being looked at and other considerations to be planned for like severance,” he said.

The cuts to Nuu-chah-nulth represent a 60 per cent reduction in funding, the steepest amount leveled at any aboriginal group, Atleo said.

Nuu-chah-nulth is the home turf of AFN President Shawn Atleo, Canada’s highest profile aboriginal leader. And the Nuu-chah-nulth recently won a key aboriginal rights fisheries case that caused a shift in how aboriginal fisheries are managed. Neither factor is a variable in the cuts to NTC funding, Cliff Atleo said. “There’s a bigger agenda at play,” he said.

That agenda involves the country’s resources and the spectre of aboriginal rights encumbering the extraction of such resources, UBCIC Grand Chief Stewart Phillip said. “We’re the last line of defence between the country’s resources and a federal government that wants to open it up and devastate it.”

Phillip also doesn’t buy that everyone had to sharpen the pencil and prepare to make cuts. “The most vulnerable people in the country are facing cuts, meanwhile corporations are benefitting from tax cuts,” he said. “That makes absolutely no sense to me.”

Nanaimo-Alberni MP James Lunney declined an invitation to attend the press conference, but he did speak about the cuts at a previous engagement. “Every (federal) department is having its challenges right now,” Lunney said. Many services have been reduced, but not cut. “The adjustment process is going to be a challenge,” he said.

Aboriginal leaders met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper in January to establish the begining of a new fiscal relationship. “But our leaders found out about the cuts after reading about it in the National Post,” Phillip said.

The cuts are troubling and disturbing, Wilson-Rabould said. “A new fiscal relationship means sitting down with us to talk about what we can do together and support our First Nations’ re-building efforts,” she said. “It doesn’t mean one party imposing on another.”

B.C. aboriginal advocate Ernie Crey was in Port Alberni the week of the protest for a fisheries meeting. The issue called to mind the words of Pam Palmater, who vied for the AFN national chief’s seat last summer, Crey related.

“I remember her saying about Harper’s government ‘You have to stand up to the bully every time’. “She was right, and they have to do it loudly starting right now.”

reporter@albernivalleynews.com

Twitter.com/AlberniNews

Just Posted

The Port Alberni Bombers are one of the newest teams in the VIJHL. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Port Alberni Bombers to host first ID camp for roster spots

Roster spots for the Junior B team will be filled at the conclusion of the camp

Douglas Holmes, current Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District chief administrative officer, is set to take on that position at the Regional District of Nanaimo come late August. (Submitted photo)
Regional District of Nanaimo’s next CAO keen to work on building partnerships

Douglas Holmes to take over top administrator role with RDN this summer

AW Neill Elementary School in Port Alberni. (NEWS FILE PHOTO)
SD70 chooses new name for AW Neill School in Port Alberni

New name honours Nuu-chah-nulth Peoples’ connection to region

Ron MacDonald fields questions at a news conference in Halifax on Sept. 27, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Finding ‘comfortable’ indigenous monitor tough task in Tofino-area shooting death

Julian Jones case hampered by difficulty finding a civilian comfortable with privacy protocols

Port Alberni RCMP officer in command Insp. Eric Rochette presents longtime community policing volunteer Louie Aumair with a OIC appreciation certificate. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Port Alberni RCMP honour longtime volunteer

First responders receive support from broader community

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Gabriola Island artist Sheila Norgate is promoting the Digital Innovation Group’s art impact survey. (File photo)
Vancouver Island artists get behind regional arts impact study

Artists urged to use their stature to help put arts and culture super-region on the map

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

Neighbours fight a small late-night bush fire with garden hoses and shovels in Cinnabar Valley on June 5. They couldn’t get help from local fire services because the fire was located in an area under B.C. Wildfire Services jurisdiction. (Photo courtesy Muriel Wells)
Neighbours on edge of Nanaimo city limits left to put out bush fire themselves

Cinnabar Valley residents tackle fire with hoses and buckets for two and a half hours

Darren Campbell’s truck (pictured) was stolen when he stopped to check on a car in a ditch on Cowichan Bay Road on Monday morning. (Facebook photo)
Vancouver Island Good Samaritan’s truck stolen in nasty trick

‘Try to be a Good Samaritan and my $20,000 truck gets stolen right under my nose’

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Creative handmade signs abound at the June 13 Tofino rally for old growth trees. (Nora O’Malley photo)
VIDEO: Tofino stands in solidarity for Fairy Creek Blockades

Over 150 supporters attend rally hosted by Friends of Clayoquot Sound

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials watching U.K.’s Delta variant struggles, ‘may need to slow’ plan going forward

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read