THUNDER BAY – “Our generosity and willingness to share our resources has made Canada one of the richest countries in the world. It’s time for us to implement our Treaty rights and assert our jurisdiction over our lands and resources. The hope and future of our younger generation is relying on us, we must take government and industry to task in order to protect what is rightfully ours” stated Union of Ontario Indians Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee.
First Nations governments are putting the Ontario and Canadian Governments on notice that they will be exercising their jurisdiction over the resources on their lands and vigorously defending this jurisdiction by direct action if required.
In November 2010, by Resolution 10/11, the Chiefs in Assembly mandated the Resource Revenue and Benefit Sharing (“RRBS”) Task Force to engage in discussions with Ontario on resource revenue sharing with a view to presenting a draft agreement for approval at a Special Chiefs Assembly.
The Ipperwash Inquiry Report had recommended that, as the means of avoiding violence “the provincial government should continue to work with Aboriginal organizations in Ontario to develop co-management arrangements and resource sharing initiatives.” Discussion among the First Nations leaders gathered at their Special Chiefs Assembly determined that Ontario has not engaged in this work with a comprehensive mandate to enable a successful outcome consistent with the treaty relationships and the spirit of the Ipperwash Inquiry Report.
Ontario Regional Chief Angus Toulouse stated “We are notifying the province of Ontario that we are not walking away from resource benefit sharing discussions. The Chiefs are not prepared to engage in discussions based on a unilaterally and arbitrarily developed framework by Ontario that doesn’t accommodate the principles of partnership and negotiation. The Chiefs in Assembly fully expect to hold Premier McGuinty to his commitment to create a new system of resource benefits sharing”.
The provincial and federal governments collect significant revenues from First Nations lands and resources. “Resource benefit sharing is an issue that the general public must be engaged in. They need to fully understand the reasonable, economically sensible and justified stance that First Nations are putting forward only to be presented with ultimatums and politically motivated deadlines” says Six Nations of the Grand River Chief Bill Montour.