Ontario Regional Chief Toulouse To Participate In The Ontario Economic Summit

TORONTO, Nov. 22, 2011 /CNW/ - Ontario Regional Chief Angus Toulouse will be participating in a panel discussion today at the 8th Annual Ontario Economic Summit (OES) coordinated by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. The OES brings together leaders from business, labour, government and non-profit organizations to share ideas to promote economic growth in Ontario. Areas of focus include innovation in health care delivery, Ontario`s energy future and championing urban regions.

Regional Chief Toulouse will highlight the significant contributions that First Nations communities, particularly First Nations youth and entrepreneurs, can make to strengthen the Ontario economy. "First Nations have much to contribute and we - industry, government and First Nations - need to work together and find ways to harness that potential so that we all benefit now and in the future," said Regional Chief Toulouse. "This includes building capacity. The First Nations' population is the fastest growing and youngest segment in all of Canada. A coordinated and constructive dialogue on how to best equip First Nations youth for entry into the labour force is necessary, especially in light of expected future labour force shortages in Ontario and Canada."

Acknowledging that there are challenges, Regional Chief Toulouse will urge government and industry to see that these challenges can be overcome. "Shared, lasting prosperity for all Ontarians and First Nations hinges on mutual respect and understanding. Part of this work is a real commitment to address the many hard issues that still exist relating to Treaty rights and resolving matters of jurisdiction. This will create the certainty required for economic development to benefit government, industry and First Nations communities, if they so choose."

Chief Toulouse shared that in order to work together successfully, it is crucial for industry and government to understand what the priorities and deal-breakers are for First Nations. "First Nations are interested in responsible development that is respectful of the Treaty relationship, their Treaty rights and inherent jurisdiction. First Nations definitely recognize the potential benefits and additional supports that economic development brings to ongoing efforts to eradicate poverty and support the growth of First Nations communities - but sustainability of lands and waters is paramount".

The current impasse with the Ring of Fire development in Northwestern Ontario serves as one such example. On November 7, 2011, the Mattawa Tribal Council, which represents the communities whose traditional territories are directly impacted by the Ring of Fire developments, filed a judicial review regarding the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency failure to implement a Joint Review Panel Environmental Assessment for the Cliffs Chromite Project.

"Those First Nations with traditional territories near the Ring of Fire area are interested in development that is responsible and that will not harm their lands and waters. They also want to ensure that discussions proceed in accordance with the international standard of free, prior and informed consent, a principle that empowers them to make the best possible decisions about economic development and be informed about the environmental impacts development will have on their traditional lands. The First Nations requested a joint review panel as a process they believed would best support their involvement. While this request has been ignored to date, there is still an opportunity here for industry and government to listen to First Nations concerns and to find a way forward," said Regional Chief Toulouse.

First Nations have much to contribute to strengthening Ontario`s economy. It is time to enhance respectful dialogue and explore what we can accomplish together to support the future prosperity of First Nations and all Ontarians.

The theme of the 2 ½ day event is "Towards Ontario`s Next Great Era" and featured an opening night keynote address by President Bill Clinton. The Summit will also include keynote addresses by Richard Daley, former Mayor of Chicago, Dr. Bernard Kouchner, of Doctors without Borders, a luncheon with Premier Dalton McGuinty and roundtable discussions chaired by Ontario Cabinet Ministers.

The Chiefs of Ontario (COO) is a coordinating body for the 133 First Nations located within the boundaries of the Province of Ontario.

SOURCE Chiefs of Ontario

For further information:

Chiefs of Ontario Communications Officer
Andre Morriseau

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Chiefs of Ontario

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