FORT WILLIAM FIRST NATION – Ontario and First Nations leadership marked a significant milestone today, with the opening of a new office in Fort William First Nation to support Indigenous youth in their community–the first provincial office to open on a First Nation.
“I am very excited to announce the first Ontario government office on a First Nations community. I want to extend my thanks and appreciation to the people of Fort William, who have welcomed the Indigenous Youth and Community Wellness Secretariat onto their territory. With this new office, the secretariat can better communicate and collaborate with partners in the North, and be that much closer to the Indigenous youth and communities they are working with and for,” states David Zimmer, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation.
“This is a step forward in the right direction for the Indigenous Youth and Community Secretariat. I hope that this will help remove some of the barriers our people face with accessing the supports and services they need. We welcome the province and look forward to seeing further development in this area for First Nation youth and the expansion of other government offices here and in more communities across the province,” says Chief Peter Collins, Fort William First Nation.
David Zimmer, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, joined by Chief Peter Collins of Fort William First Nation, attended the opening today, where they participated in the first meeting of the Indigenous Youth and Community Wellness Secretariat’s Indigenous Partners Engagement Circle.
Ontario committed to establishing the secretariat last July in response to continued crises and suicides in northern First Nations communities. The secretariat will work closely with Indigenous partners and federal and municipal governments to develop community-driven solutions to support Indigenous youth and move towards recovery, resiliency and wellness.
Through the joint creation and development of an action plan with youth and Indigenous partners, the secretariat will help improve opportunities for Indigenous youth and enhance access to the services and supports they need, when they need them.
By establishing an office on Fort William First Nation, Ontario is creating more opportunities for Indigenous partners and communities to share their knowledge and ideas directly with the province.
“We are grateful the provincial government has developed this secretariat, and we look forward to working in partnership to enhance and build community-based capacity,” shared Deputy Grand Chief Anna Betty Achneepineskum, Nishnawbe Aski Nation
“The City of Thunder Bay welcomes the news that our friend and partners at Fort William First Nation will host the Indigenous Youth and Community Wellness Secretariat on their traditional territory. We need to come together and work to protect youth, champion opportunities for success, and create an environment that will nurture, support and enable all Indigenous people, especially youth, to thrive,” said Mayor Keith Hobbs, City of Thunder Bay.
“Our government believes that a dedicated and community-driven secretariat is essential in addressing social and health-related issues here in Thunder Bay, and across the North. Working with Indigenous youth, the federal government, and community leaders, our government will be better equipped to quickly act in the face of ongoing and emerging crises,” enthused Michael Gravelle, Thunder Bay – Superior North MPP
“Our government recently created the Indigenous Youth and Community Wellness Secretariat to assist with issues affecting Indigenous youth. It was very important to me that the Secretariat have an office and staff in Northwestern Ontario. I am very pleased that Fort William First Nation was chosen as the location for this office, and thank Chief Collins and the people of Fort William First Nation for welcoming the Secretariat into your community,” stated Bill Mauro, Thunder Bay – Atikokan MPP.