THUNDER BAY – Ontario Regional Chief Beardy states, “We expect to be treated as equal partners, and to have our constitutionally protected Aboriginal and Treaty rights respected. Until we see a fundamental shift in the approach of the federal government toward First Nations in this country we will not realize the progress that our people are seeking and so desperately need. I’m calling on this government to act honourably and work with us to make changes that will benefit First Nations citizens and all Canadians”.
Chief Stan Beardy reiterated the position of the First Nations in Ontario in calling for a meeting with the Prime Minister and the Governor General in order to mutually set the agenda for a renewed relationship between First Nations and Canada.
Ontario Regional Chief Beardy Reiterates Position
“The First Nations in Ontario are calling for a meeting in the very near future during which we will mutually agree upon an agenda that will outline how we work together to address the challenges that our people experience and to improve the First Nations-Government relationship”, stated Regional Chief Beardy.
The Regional Chief indicated that the First Nations in Ontario did not attend the January 11th meeting involving the Prime Minister, National Chief and a limited group of First Nation leaders because the terms of the meeting were unilaterally set by the federal government. “The federal government continues the dictatorial and disrespectful approach to dealing with First Nations yet at the same time talks about their commitment to developing partnerships and respectful relationships with us. It`s well past time to put their words into action”, said the Regional Chief.
Many First Nations also called for the Governor General to be part of the meeting between First Nations and the federal government on January 11th.
However, the Prime Minister`s Office is refusing to include the Governor General in the meeting which it termed a working meeting with a focus on policy issues.
Many First Nation Treaties were entered into by Indigenous Nations and the British Crown prior to Confederation and for many First Nations the original relationship with the Crown remains central to discussions involving Treaties and the nation-to-nation relationship.
Regional Chief Beardy pointed out that until the federal government begins to recognize that First Nations must be treated as equal partners, little progress will be realized. He emphasized that Treaties can only be signed between nations and that they remain the basis of the relationship between First Nations and the federal government. “Despite ongoing attempts to extinguish our rights and assimilate our people, our relationship has not changed since the day the Treaties were signed. We remain nations with inherent rights and jurisdiction and we will continue to assert and protect those rights”, said Regional Chief Beardy.
The First Nations in Ontario remain committed to the need for a high level dialogue on Treaty implementation, which must include a discussion of resource revenue sharing resulting from development on First Nation traditional lands. Regional Chief Beardy indicated that the First Nations will continue to hold the federal government accountable to their duty to consult First Nations. Further that the continued refusal of the federal government to repeal specific sections of the Jobs and Growth Act (known as Bill C-45), relating to changes to environmental protection and oversight mechanisms and legislation as well as changes made to the Indian Act land designation sections clearly demonstrates the ongoing disrespect this federal government has toward their constitutional and legal obligations to First Nations. First Nations in Ontario and across the country remain adamant that the federal government failed to honour their legally recognized duty to consult with First Nations on Bill C-45 and a series of bills currently before Parliament.