Nishnawbe Aski Nation Fall Chief’s Assembly Wraps Up

NAN Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler speaking at press conference
NAN Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler speaking at press conference

THUNDER BAY – The Nishnawbe Aski Nation Fall Chief’s Assembly in Thunder Bay has wrapped up. The gathering of Chiefs from the 49 NAN territory First Nations had a full agenda of work to complete.

On the first day, Chiefs heard from Ontario Regional Chief Roseanne Archibald and Ontario Indigenous Services Minister Greg Rickford.

Today, First Nation leaders from across Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) declared their resolve to assert their rights and jurisdiction over their traditional lands by rejecting omnibus legislation being fast-tracked by the provincial government, and controlling development in the Far North.

“The message today from our Chiefs to the Government of Ontario is that we are the rights holders and will have final say in anything that happens in their territories,” said Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler. “Our leaders have strongly opposed Bill 132 as it seriously undermines the mining industry obligation to consult with First Nation communities. They have also rejected the disrespectful approach of this government of burying issues fundamental to First Nations in omnibus legislation and creating unreasonable timelines to undermine the right of our communities to adequately respond.”

Via resolutions passed today at NAN’s Fall Assembly, Chiefs rejected Bill 132: Better for People, Smarter for Business Act, 2019, which includes proposed changes affecting many statutes including the Mining Act.

NAN Chiefs have declared that the area designated by Ontario as the ‘Far North’ is subject to the James Bay Treaty No. 9 and Ontario portion of Treaty No. 5 and that development in these lands will not be unilaterally imposed.

Additionally, Chiefs have mandated NAN to establish a Jurisdiction Working Group of Chiefs, officials and technical representatives to define the scope of First Nation jurisdiction.

With respect to Bill 132, NAN looks to Ontario to extend the time for consultation and accommodation in respect of the Bill and create a respectful process for engagement. NAN will also request that Ontario end the disrespectful legislative practice of burying issues important to First Nations in omnibus legislation completely unrelated to First Nation matters.