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The Two-Row Wampum set out two parallel rows which represented our two peoples and relationship. In the same way that the two rows did not intersect, our two systems and laws were not to impose on one another. These treaties were entered into as full equal sovereign nations in the full international definition. We fought as military allies alongside European nations for 300 years.

Our Sovereignty and rights to self-determination have never been surrendered or lost. Our lands were not 'discovered'. First Nations were not conquered. First Nations did not surrender or cede our lands, resources or rights to self-government. Yet over time we have found the governments which formed in Canada illegally imposing their laws on our people. Treties were used to justify the theft of our lands and resources, yet the rights promised under them were violated almost as soon as the ink was dry.

We have consistently pressed for the recognition and implementation of our aboriginal and treaty rights. Yet, until recently, it was illegal for First Nations to raise moneys to pursue land claims in Canada. In 1982 we obtained the recognition of our treaty and aboriginal rights in the Canadian Constitution. Even then nothing changed. From 1982 until 1992 we attempted, without success, to get explicit recognition of our inherent rights to self-government in the constitution.

Canadian courts are incapable of
recognizing the true nature of First Nations
laws, rights and jurisdictions

Even after obtaining several favourable Supreme Court of Canada decisions specifically recognizing and articulating our rights, the federal and provincial governments have still not implemented the true spirit and intent of our treaties as understood by First Nations. The Sparrow decision, for example, while recognizing our aboriginal and treaty rights, stated that these same rights could be extinguished. This is a proposition that First Nations categorically reject. This is a clear demonstration that Canadian courts are indpable of recognizing the true nature of First Nations laws, rights and jurisdictions. This system has not and cannot bring justice to First Nations.

It is for this reason that First Nations in Ontario ahve decided to establish the FIRST NATIONS INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE. Its first hearing will be in the spring of 1996 at Ottawa. This International Court will controlled by First Nations and will rely on First Nations, international and Canadian sources of law and the rules of natural justice and human rights. The Court will demonstrate principles of justice and fairness equal to any court or tribunal in the world.

Eminent jurists from all parts of Canada and from other countries will participate in teh Court. First Nations Elders will play a central role in advising the panel of Judges. Canada will be invited to participate directly in the proceedings to answer the central questions posed by the tribunal. Given its record, Canada may choose not to participate in or respect the jurisdiction of the tribunal. In this event the Court will have the power to appoint competent legal representatives for Canada. Both Canada and First Nations will be represented by competent lawyers. Fair procedure will translate into a fair judgment.

The central issues to be dealt with include the following:
When and how did the Government of Canada
believe it acquired jurisdiction over First Nations
including the power or authority to tax citizens of
the First Nations?

This issue has recently been brought to the attention of the Canadian public and misrepresented in the media. The First Nations tax immunity was presented as an exemption or a gift from Canada which could be removed at whim. Recent implementation of Revenue Canada guidelines are the start of this process. Yet the central issue is the fact that canada never acquired the authority to impose its laws on First Nations. It is time Canada accounted to the world for its actions and violations of our aboriginal, treaty and international human rights.

This is a watershed for First Nations. It is time to break away from the reliance on Canadian courts which ahs produced few tangible results at a very high cost. The First Nations Internation Court of Justice will be a tangible demonstration of the full sovereignty and jurisdiction of First Nations in Canada.

Your Support is Needed!

In particular, financial help is required to enable the Court to proceed. If you would like to make a donation, or require further information, please contact the

Chiefs of Ontario
22 College Street, 2nd Floor
Toronto, Canada   M5G 1K2

Telephone (416) 972-0212
Facsimile  (416) 972-0217

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