STATEMENT BY NIKI ASHTON CALLING ON SUPPORTERS TO JOIN IN RAY OF HOPE CANDLELIGHT VIGILS, APRIL 8, 2013

The NDP is urging supporters across the country to attend the Ray of Hope candlelight vigils taking place in cities across Canada this evening to show support and solidarity, standing united with Aboriginal peoples.

When Stephen Harper made a pledge to take action in forging a Crown relationship with Aboriginal peoples, we – like many Canadians – were hopeful that this would represent a new beginning. However, instead of a face-to-face, nation-to-nation dialogue, what we’ve seen is continued inaction from the Conservatives that has only served to widen the existing gulf.

In a country like ours, it is disturbing that First Nations members feel they must put their lives on the line to get action from this government. We are concerned about Elder Robinson’s health, and the path that the Conservatives have chosen. Stephen Harper’s refusal to change his approach towards Aboriginal peoples is unnecessarily escalating the situation and setting the stage for future confrontations.

The NDP remains firmly committed to forging a new nation-to-nation relationship with First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples as highlighted through our support of the January Declaration of Commitment.

We have also repeatedly called on the Conservatives to make First Nations, Inuit and Métis a priority in the 2013 budget. However, instead we’ve seen the Conservatives add insult to injury with half-hearted, paternalistic measures. That is not leadership.

New Democrats know that Canada is stronger when we work together in true partnership. 

For the list of Ray of Hope Candlelight Vigil happening in your region: http://raymondrobinson.org/101-2

-30-