Ontario Regional Chief supports progress to address First Nation interests and the conservation of boreal forest



    TORONTO, July 15 /CNW/ - Following Premier McGuinty's announcement
yesterday to protect the Northern Boreal region, Ontario Regional Chief Angus
Toulouse stated, "Reconciliation and conservation are imperatives for all
peoples of Ontario. I am pleased to see the Premier taking steps in this
direction."
    Regional Chief Toulouse commented that the Ipperwash Inquiry report
tabled in May of 2007 continues to point the way forward towards a new
relationship - one that is just, fair and recognizes First Nation rights and
jurisdiction. As Justice Linden said "we are all Treaty people" - action is
required to make this a reality. Such action includes fulfilling the original
understanding of mutual respect and harmony in the best interests of both
First Nations and the newcomers.
    Regional Chief Toulouse added, "I take the Premier's words to mean that
the evolution of development in this province has to change. This change must
bring to an end development driven solely by colonial interests and capital
gain."
    We must all recognize that environmental preservation as well as justice
and recognition are imperatives that must be satisfied prior to development.
We can no longer tolerate the protection of Mother Earth or the livelihood and
well-being of our people taking a back-seat to profit-margins on Bay Street."
    We have much work to do together. The First Nation leadership in Ontario
is ready and able to take on this work. We look forward to clarifying the
challenge and the steps ahead together with the Government of Ontario.
    First Nations have advanced our clear position on the duty to consult and
accommodate as directed by the courts. First Nation leadership have also set
out an agenda to engage with the Government of Ontario on Treaty
implementation, land rights including resource revenue sharing and revising
the Ontario Mining Act, and First Nation jurisdiction and capacity building
through joint governance of the New Relationship Fund. The Premier's
announcement is a positive response to this agenda and an indication that we
can begin this work in a respectful and action-oriented fashion.
    Regional Chief Toulouse concluded stating that "I believe that the stakes
are high for everyone right now. We simply can't afford to keep going down the
same old path. The signs in the environment are clear and so too are they in
our communities. Our people are tired and frustrated with the lack of progress
and of being ignored. We've all seen that conflict is real and very possible.
Only through a broad commitment including engaging First Nation governments at
every step of the way will we be able to see progress. A commitment to
land-use planning and the requirement of First Nation consent in this process
is a critical first step."





For further information:

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

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Chiefs of Ontario

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