'Treaties must be part of resource discussions': Lake Huron Chief

TIMMINS, ON, Dec. 6, 2013 /CNW/ - An Anishinabek Nation leader is calling on Premier Kathleen Wynne to immediately convene a discussion on the implications of treaty rights on resource extraction in Ontario.

Chief Isadore Day, Wiindawtegowinini, Serpent River First Nation, told delegates at the Northern Leaders Forum that the withdrawal of Cliffs Resources from the giant Ring of Fire chromite development in Northwestern Ontario indicates the need for clear guidelines to be established about the rights of First Nations to be full partners in any resource-based activity on their traditional lands.

"The Growth Plan model presents an opportunity for everyone in Ontario to recognize Treaties in Ontario. We want the premier and Minister Gravelle (Michael Gravelle, Minister of Northern Development and Mines) to start talking about treaties immediately.  Recent challenges with the Ring of Fire is tells us that there is a lack of treaty recognition and First Nations need to be included as a full partner in discussions."

The Growth Plan for Northern Ontario is a Strategic Framework to guide the decision-making process on government spending and investment.

"We are the First Peoples of Canada and our rights are enshrined in Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution. We have sovereignty over our traditional territories and it is time that both the federal and Ontario government recognized this."

The Northern Leaders Forum is hosted by the Ontario government in an attempt to bring all partners together to collaborate on Northern Ontario's Growth Plan and strategic planning.

Chief Day emphasized that First Nation rights take precedence over the rights of municipalities and other interest groups represented at the forum.  He also pointed out that First Nations can play a valuable role in resource development.

"Sixty per cent of mining resources in Ontario are located on our traditional territories.  If Ontario and mining companies want to proceed with development, meaningful inclusion of First Nations could promote certainty, stability and access.

"We want to be full partners in resource development and we request our fair share of the resource wealth extracted from our lands.  Last year the value of production in mining was $11 billion and it is high time that Ontario and Canada recognized our rights to our resources.

"We need to have our treaties implemented and we intend to hold the government accountable. The Robinson Huron Treaty was signed almost 200 years ago and the promises and commitments made to us have not been kept.  Now is the time for a change.

Chief Day serves as Lake Huron Regional Chief for the Anishinabek Nation, a confederacy of 39 First Nations across Ontario, and he holds the Lands and Resources portfolio for the Anishinabek Leadership Council.  He sees the Northern Leaders Forum as a vehicle to further the recognition of First Nation rights in a meaningful way so that First Nations can share in the economic benefits derived from their traditional lands.

"First Nations can and will play a major role in Ontario's future development.  Meaningful recognition of our rights and inclusion will spur prosperity in our province.  I challenge Ontario to accept our full participation and involvement.  We are ready to proceed along this path today."

The Anishinabek Nation established the Union of Ontario Indians as its secretariat in 1949. The UOI is a political advocate for 39 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:

Marci Becking, Communications Officer
Phone : 1-877-702-5200  ext. 2290
Email becmar@anishinabek.ca
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