THUNDER BAY – Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Stan Beardy jointly with NAN First Nations Chiefs, during a press conference in Thunder Bay today, declared their position regarding the Ontario Government’s proposed Bill 191 (Far North Act) and their plans moving forward.
“We have been very clear in our concerns with Bill 191 however the Ontario Government has failed to respond to our issues,” said NAN Grand Chief Stan Beardy. “We have, time and time again, expressed our concerns that Bill 191 must contain language and mechanisms to support First Nations jurisdiction and title to the land. The unilateral imposition of this radical transformation within NAN territory is inconsistent with the spirit and intent of Treaties 9 and 5 therefore we have no choice but to take collective action to halt this Bill.”
Bill 191 (Far North Act) is scheduled for Third Reading in the Ontario Legislature on September 16, 2010. NAN Chiefs met for a two-day Emergency Chiefs Assembly this week to determine any necessary future action to withdraw Bill 191.
“Land-use planning is the way we are going to develop hope and a future for our children. With the implementation of Bill 191, our rights and title to the land would be stripped from us giving us no control over what happens in our traditional territory,” said Sandy Lake Chief Adam Fiddler. “We want Ontario to recognize our land-use plans and we want to be accommodated in our requests for changes to Bill 191. This has not happened and therefore for me and my community, I cannot support Bill 191.”
“We as young First Nation peoples today are more aware than ever of issues pertaining to our land and the jurisdictional rights we have, in our traditional territories,” said Jessica Edwards, spokesperson for NAN Oshkaatisak (Young Peoples Council). “It’s important for us to have a say in how our lands will be used for our generation and future generations to come. We too as the NAN Young Peoples Council will stand and oppose Bill 191.”
“We will do whatever it takes to ensure our family’s futures are protected,” said Donna Orr, spokesperson for NAN Women’s Council. “As a mother, it is my duty to ensure my children have the right to determine what and when our lands will be used – this should not be up to the Ontario Government to decide on our behalf.”