Fontaine stresses right to protest
To see Fontaine speaking at an earlier assembly, click here.
Canadians must understand the depths of poverty experienced by aboriginal people, and protests are a legitimate method of enlightenment, Grand Chief Phil Fontaine of the Assembly of First Nations said yesterday at a special meeting of chiefs.
In a forceful speech to open the two-day policy conference, Mr. Fontaine said he recognized that many non-aboriginal people are anxious about the day of action his group is planning for June 29.
The AFN has called for peaceful protests but there are fears that some members will resort to blockades - a form of demonstration that Indian Affairs Minister Jim Prentice says will be met with a firm response. Mr. Fontaine said the government should instead defend the right of the demonstrators.
"What we've said is that we want to reach out to Canadians. We want to educate and inform Canadians. We want them to know how we've been treated. We want them to know the extreme poverty that exists in many of our communities," he said.