Ontario commits to forging "a stronger, more positive relationship with First Nations" in Throne Speech



    TORONTO, Nov. 30 /CNW/ - Yesterday, Ontario Regional Chief Angus Toulouse
attended the provincial Speech from the Throne to open the first session of
the thirty-ninth Parliament of Ontario. "The Speech from the Throne was
positive. I am pleased that Ontario again expressed a clear commitment to work
with First Nations on the implementation of the recommendations contained
within the Final Report of the Ipperwash Inquiry," stated Ontario Regional
Chief Angus Toulouse.
    The Regional Chief indicated that the Ipperwash Inquiry Final Report
provides a unique opportunity, and the momentum necessary, to make real
progress on key issues that are integral to the First Nations-Provincial
relationship. Chief Toulouse emphasized that First Nations want to see
government move beyond the rhetoric to concrete action. "Ontario has the
opportunity to follow through on the commitments made in the Throne Speech by
taking concrete steps to demonstrate the sincerity of their commitment to
forging a stronger relationship with First Nations," stated Chief Toulouse.
    Chief Toulouse specifically mentioned the recommendation calling for the
establishment of an Aboriginal Reconciliation Fund as an example of a tangible
step that could be taken. Premier McGuinty announced the creation of an
Aboriginal Relationship Fund on June 21, 2007. He further indicated that First
Nations in Ontario see what has taken place in British Columbia between the
provincial government and First Nations in recent years. "The BC government
has committed $100 million to a First Nations Relationship Trust. The
expectation of the First Nations in Ontario is for a minimum investment of
$100 million. This is consistent with what has taken place in BC, and
especially when one considers that the First Nation population in Ontario is
the largest of any other province or territory in Canada," said Chief
Toulouse.
    The Regional Chief said that Ontario could also demonstrate their
commitment to building a stronger relationship by establishing a Treaty
Commission of Ontario as called for in the Final Report of the Ipperwash
Inquiry. "I was encouraged to see that Ontario committed to working toward
accelerating the settlement of long unresolved land claims. I believe that the
Ipperwash Inquiry Final Report was clear in calling for reform to both the
federal and provincial processes for settling land claims. There are key
recommendations in the Ipperwash Inquiry Final Report that call for federal,
provincial and First Nation cooperation in addressing this issue," said Chief
Toulouse. He pointed out that the federal initiative with respect to Specific
Claims reform clearly ties in with recommendations in the Ipperwash Final
Report.
    The Speech from the Throne included a commitment to work with all
Aboriginal peoples to improve quality of life and expand economic
opportunities for Aboriginal people in the province, including greater
opportunities for Aboriginal youth. Chief Toulouse indicated that
opportunities for youth, including to quality, accessible education, and
infrastructure needs in First Nation communities remain examples of some of
the issues requiring joint discussion and the development of comprehensive
plans to address.
    "Overall I found the Speech from the Throne to be a positive basis upon
which to move forward. There is cause for some cautious optimism but the key
will be for this government to follow through on these commitments and First
Nations - and I believe all Ontarians - expect this government to fulfill the
commitments that they have made," indicated Chief Toulouse.





For further information:

For further information: Pam Hunter, Policy Advisor, (416) 597-1266 or
(613) 203-3233

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Chiefs of Ontario

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