First Nations not consulted on excavated artifacts

UOI OFFICES, Aug. 19 /CNW/ - Anishinabek leadership in the Northern Superior region are upset over thousands of artifacts estimated to be 9,000 years old being excavated and shipped to Lakehead University without any consultation with local First Nations.

This has been called one of the most significant archeological finds in Northern Ontario in an area behind the McKenzie Inn 40 Kilometres East of Thunder Bay on Highway 11/17.

"It has become common knowledge in Canada - especially in Ontario - that First Nations have a significant connection to our history and these artifacts represent the history of our people and our relationship to this land," said Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee. "I find it funny that the Ministry of Tourism and Culture has been developing a 'Standards and Guidelines for consultant Archaeologist' and at the same time ignore their legal duty to consult when they actually find something."

Grand Council Chief said that there is a long-standing history with archaeology finds and First Nation artifacts, it is incumbent upon this government to consult with First Nations, especially now within our Northern Superior Region.

Madahbee said that it doesn't matter that the artifacts may not belong to the specific indigenous people that reside in the Lake Superior region today, what's important that the area First Nations of today have been consulted and engaged in the process.

A recent example of the controversy between First Nations and scientists regarding the repatriation of artifacts took place on June 21, 2005. Citizens and Elders from the ten Algonquin Nations in the Ottawa area convened at Kitigan Zibi First Nation near Maniwaki, Quebec to inter ancestral human remains and burial goods - some dating back 6,000 years. It was not determined, however, if the remains were directly related to the Algonquin people who now inhabit the region. The remains may be of Iroquoian ancestry, since Iroquoian people inhabited the area before the Algonquin.

Justice Sidney Linden made two recommendations regarding Consultation and Accommodation in Volume 2 of the Report of the Ipperwash Inquiry released in 2007. One of them being the provincial government should promote respect and understanding of the duty to consult and accommodate within relevant provincial agencies and Ontario municipalities.

There were also seven specific recommendations to Heritage and Burial Sites from the Report of the Ipperwash Inquiry, including recommendation number 22: The provincial government should work with First Nations and Aboriginal organizations to develop policies that acknowledge the uniqueness of Aboriginal burial and heritage sites ensure that First Nations are aware of decisions affecting Aboriginal burial and heritage sites, and promote First Nations participation in decision-making. These rules and policies should eventually be incorporated into provincial legislation, regulations, and other government policies as appropriate.

The Ipperwash Inquiry Priorities and Action Committee (IIPAC) sub-table which includes Ontario and Grand Councils are forming a joint working group to review the recommendations in relation to Heritage and Burial Sites.

The Anishinabek Nation established the Union of Ontario Indians as its secretariat in 1949. The UOI is a political advocate for 40 member communities across Ontario, representing approximately 55,000 people. 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.

SOURCE Anishinabek Nation

For further information: For further information: Marci Becking, Communications Officer, Union of Ontario Indians, Phone: (705) 497-9127 (ext. 2290), Cell: (705) 494-0735, E-mail: becmar@anishinabek.ca, www.facebook.com - add Anishinabek Nation as a "friend"

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