First Nations in Ontario welcome plans for a separate Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs



    TORONTO, June 25 /CNW/ - On June 22, 2007, Premier Dalton McGuinty
announced the creation of a Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs, and current
Minister of Natural Resources David Ramsay, was sworn in as the first Minister
of Aboriginal Affairs.
    "First Nations in Ontario welcome the creation of a stand alone Ministry,
with its own Minister and Deputy Minister. This move will raise the profile of
First Nations issues within government, and will ensure that First Nations
have a dedicated voice at the Cabinet table" said Ontario Regional Chief Angus
Toulouse. Prior to the creation of the separate Ministry, Aboriginal issues
were housed within a Secretariat within the Ministry of Natural Resources.
Chief Toulouse explained that First Nations view the mandate of the Minister
of Natural Resources as often in conflict with the priorities of First
Nations, and that the Secretariat had limited resources, and limited influence
within government.
    The creation of a Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs, with a dedicated
Minister and Deputy Minister was recommended in the Final Report of the
Ipperwash Inquiry released on May 31, 2007. The Ipperwash Inquiry Final Report
recognized that "the complexity and importance of Aboriginal issues has
outgrown the institutional arrangements dedicated to them within the
provincial government" and that creating a new Ministry would "go a long way
toward ensuring that Aboriginal issues receive the priority and focus they
deserve".

    
    Other key elements of the Premier's announcement include:

    -   to work with the federal government on a new process that would
        expedite land claims here in Ontario;
    -   launch a New Relationship Fund, which will help Aboriginal
        communities strengthen their skills and resources to work more
        seamlessly with governments; and,
    -   work toward resolving the future use of Ipperwash Park by the end of
        the year.
    

    "This announcement marks a positive step forward. It will be important to
ensure that the two Ministries are indeed separate with two separate Ministers
and separate budgets. I do believe that this will occur in the short term. It
will also be critical for the province to work collaboratively with First
Nations in developing plans and priorities into the future, including the
implementation of further recommendations of the Ipperwash Inquiry" stated
Regional Chief Toulouse.





For further information:

For further information: Pam Hunter, Policy Advisor Office, (416)
597-1266, Mobile: (613) 720-5539

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Chiefs of Ontario

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