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Anishinabek reject tax by cross-border shopping

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THUNDER BAY, ON - December 17, 2009 - UOI OFFICES – Anishinabek Nation leaders predict that provincial retailers could feel the pinch if First Nations are included in the proposed "harmonization" of Ontario's eight-per-cent sales tax with the five-per-cent federal Goods and Services Tax.

"Already we are seeing signs that imposition of the HST is the last straw for our leaders and communities," Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee said of the plan that would see First Nations shoppers paying 13 cents more on every shopping dollar they spend after July, 2010. "Ottawa and Queen's Park must understand that there will be consequences to their attempts to ignore our treaty rights to tax exemption."

Madahbee pointed to the Border Crossing Demonstration jointly planned for Dec. 21st by Garden River and Batchewana First Nations. Chiefs Lyle Sayers and Dean Sayers have invited citizens of the neighbouring First Nations communities to travel in a Christmas shopping convoy -- including at least one bus – to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.

Community notices say that "The Government of Canada is proposing a new tax which will be imposed in July of 2010. This is an erosion of our historic Nation-to-Nation relationship with the Crown. One government cannot tax another; Canada cannot tax us – we are allies", and recommend that, because "The United States recognizes our rights affirmed under the Jay treaty of 1794....we spend our Christmas money in the United States."

"There are 150,000 First Nation citizens in Ontario – that's a lot of purchasing power," said Grand Council Chief Madahbee, speaking on behalf of the 41 member communities of the Anishinabek Nation. "Retailers in cities across Ontario like Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, North Bay, Parry Sound, Orillia, Peterborough, Sarnia – all enjoy significant benefits from spending by citizens of neighbouring Anishinabek communities. We estimate that 80 cents of every dollar going into our First Nations is currently being spent in nearby towns and cities.

"We will do everything in our power to ensure that no-one will profit from ignoring our treaty and aboriginal rights."

The Anishinabek Nation established the Union of Ontario Indians (UOI) as its secretariat in 1949. The UOI is a political advocate for 41 member First Nations across Ontario. The Union of Ontario Indians is the oldest political organization in Ontario and can trace its roots back to the Confederacy of Three Fires, which existed long before European contact.

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