SERPENT RIVER FIRST NATION, Sept. 21, 2011 /CNW/ - A push towards a
consultation law is high on the agenda of a First Nation Council as it
winds down a 2-year set of priorities in the next two months.
On Monday night Serpent River First Nation Chief and Council unanimously
endorsed the codification of a Consultation Law and the development of a Free, Prior and Informed Consent Policy Framework.
Located on the northern shores of Lake Huron, the territory of Serpent
River is the homeland to over 12 hundred Anishnabek and their families.
Approximately thirty percent of the community's members live on the
reserve lands; the remaining members live in various parts of Ontario
and across the country and the US. The peninsula of reserve lands was
once assessed and staked for copper mining potential prior to the
making of the Robinson Huron Treaty of 1850.
Elected Chief of the community Isadore Day, Wiindawtegowinini says a First Nation Consultation Law is important for a wide list of
reasons. The main reason for the First Nation advancing this next step
is said by the Chief to be one of "Nation-Building."
Lands and resource policies of both the federal and provincial
governments over the last two hundred years focused primarily on
exploitation. For instance, Ontario's forestry industry at the turn of
the 20th century was based solely on access, harvest, and a tenure
system that had no concern or consideration for Aboriginal and treaty
Today, conflict continues to plague relationships between First Nation
and non-First Nation jurisdictions. This problem has historically been
related to broken treaties and a controversial and contested discretion
that treaties left with the Crown. The Chief says that, "this confusion
and power imbalance stemming from the treaty relationship can only be
corrected by a truly defined and shared jurisdiction."
The First Nation has spent the last several years attempting to work
closely with other governments after the Taku, Haida and Mikisew Cree decisions, which defined a fair and just way to assess Aboriginal
consultation rights. Day says that because of modern complexities of
the environmental, economic and overlapping interests, something must
be done to directly formalize the jurisdiction of the First Nation.
"We've come to a critical time in the history of self-government of our
community. We must leave a much needed jurisdictional fabric for our
children that defines our laws on Consultation; Accommodation and Free, Prior and Informed Consent," explains the Chief. "We have recently committed to a community
comprehensive plan for the next 25 years in Serpent River. This is one
of the main pieces of our long-term plan - without it we are simply
going to continue to march to the tune of another government's law."
Whether its mining, or other proposed developments within the
traditional territory such as cottage lot development, renewable
energy, or transportation infrastructure, First Nations continue to be
tested by an overflow of letters and technical documents for their
review. This is often where the breakdown occurs. The Crown is
obligated to provide information - while First Nations are not equipped
to make informed decisions. First Nation Treaty leaders are saying
'enough is enough.'
Day adds, "Just as other governments have a fixed regulatory framework
that collects revenue for the fuelling of government machinery, this
law will also look at the cost of our requirements in governing our
authority. There simply is a cost of doing business in the territory -
it's time both Crown governments and industry pay up so that shared
jurisdiction can proceed."
The Chief indicated now that the decision has been made to produce a
formal and codified framework on access to resources within the
territory, government and industry as well as other First Nations must
accept interim processes that are principled and based on free, prior
and informed consent, cooperation, shared information and negotiation.
"Moving into the future, we as First Nations continue to stand firm on
the protection and preservation of lands of significance. Canada and
Ontario continue to thirst for our lands for development purposes. We
must make significant steps forward in looking at cooperation and
shared jurisdiction; development is a matter of community assertion.
Third parties will now have to accept our laws and our policies,"
concludes the Serpent River Chief.
SOURCE Anishinabek Nation
For further information:
Melissa Chesterfield, Communications Specialist
Serpent River First Nation
(705) 844-2418 - firstname.lastname@example.org