| UOI OFFICES, Nipissing First Nation, Oct. 3, 2012 /CNW/ - The Anishinabek Nation agrees with Ontario Environmental Commissioner Gord Miller, whose annual report lambastes provincial government ministries for ignoring principles created in their own government's environmental policies.
"There has been a significant reduction in transparency and accountability to all First Nations as well as to citizens of Ontario," says Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee. "We all need to be actively involved in the environmental decision-making process and the Environmental Bill of Rights do not allow for open or direct communications with First Nations in Ontario. We agree that the province is losing touch on these issues."
In the second part of Miller's annual report - titled "Losing touch" - released Tuesday, the commissioner says that the Ministry of Natural Resources does not adequately monitor forest wildlife populations and incorporate the information into its own forest management policies. The commission found that the required Provincial Wildlife Population Monitoring Program has been dysfunctional.
The first part of Miller's report released Sept. 19 highlighted the province's disregard for legal requirements under the Environmental Bill of Rights, legislation designed to protect and restore the natural environment in Ontario and to provide tools to ensure the government hears and responds to environmental concerns.
Lake Huron Regional Chief Isadore Wiindawtegowinini Day says that our environment, which the Anishinabek call Shkakimaa Kwe -"Mother Earth" -, is in a very critical state and under the threat of climate change.
Chief Day blamed the provincial government for not investing enough to protect water resources, and that programs currently in place are lacking key elements to protect lakes, rivers, streams and aquifers as well as the ecosystems that rely on these waterways.
"We are the original caretakers of Mother Earth, and the Ontario Government must recognize our jurisdiction and decision-making authority. As rights holders, we need to be included in any decision-making process that involves our territories."
Anishinabek Chiefs resolved at June's Grand Council Assembly to put lands and resource jurisdiction front and centre of their Nation-building agenda.
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
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