KENORA – The City of Kenora has proposed a by-law against loitering, and plans to vote on it by July 21, 2020.
“It is the opinion of Grand Council Treaty #3 (GCT3) and Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) that this by-law disproportionately targets the homeless and the transient. A very large percentage of those affected would be First Nations people, many of whom are already extremely disadvantaged. These types of by-laws do nothing to address the root problems that lead to people to be in these situations.
Grand Council Treaty #3 and Nishnawbe Aski Nation urge Kenora City Council to reject this proposed by-law.
The Kenora Fellowship Centre comments, “We have tried to keep the people we serve informed of things that will affect them so they are at least aware, recently was the City’s proposed by-law regarding loitering and the issue of public safety: So we shared this information and people were very upset.
We also shared that there will be a rally of sorts in opposition to the By-law; there were comments of “racism”, “where are we supposed to go”,” we need housing too”, “they don’t want us”, “I’m sick of the discrimination”, “it’s not just us”, “so much discrimination in this town towards us Indigenous”, “This is treaty 3 land”, “This is our land” – one particular concern is public safety for all people who are facing homelessness are at greater risk for violence and exploitation including sexual exploitation and other forms.”
The social issues facing Kenora are well known by GCT3 and NAN, as a large amount of their work consists of advocating for the marginalized and proposing options that can lead to alleviating the struggles faced by our people. COVID-19 has not created these problems, but the pandemic has made them worse. NAN and GCT3 acknowledge that these problems are incredibly complex and that solutions are not easy to accomplish. However, unilateral measures such as this proposed by-law do nothing to help and will cause further harm to vulnerable members of society and create further divisions in the region.
GCT3 and NAN are prepared to work with municipalities and any partners that seek to address these issues in a productive manner. No one organization or government will be able to solve the social issues in Kenora, as solutions require collaboration and sincere efforts at reconciliation. It is abundantly clear through the ongoing efforts of Nishnawbe Aski Nation and Grand Council Treaty #3 that solving these issues will also require a multifaceted approach to address homelessness, addictions, the lack of economic opportunities, and the chronic dysfunction of the justice system in Ontario’s north.
As First Nation people continue to form a larger proportion of Northwestern Ontario, both in terms of population and economic activity, it is critical that these issues are addressed collectively by all those that share the land of the Anishinaabe Nation. The Anishinaabe people have long asked partners to take an inclusive approach to deal with issues that affect them. GCT3 and NAN must, therefore, object at every opportunity to any ill-conceived measure such as this and demand that a more thoughtful and humane approach to these issues take its place.
Grand Council Treaty #3 and Nishnawbe Aski Nation stand with those who have already protested this proposed by-law and will continue to advocate for those who are committed to developing positive solutions in Kenora and throughout our territories.