Core Funding Cuts Hamper Opportunity for First Nations
THUNDER BAY – Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy says “The devastating federal and provincial government cuts to core funding for First Nation organizations is an attempt to dismantle the collective voices of First Nations and will not address the risk that extractive industries face when wanting to develop on or near First Nations’ territories”.
“We know all too well that cutbacks are an attempt to minimize our capacity to speak out about our rightful role in the protection of the environment and our authority to provide free, prior and informed consent on projects in the natural gas, energy, and mining industries,” added Regional Chief Beardy.
In addition to core funding, Regional Chief Beardy expressed concerns with major federal funding cuts for specific claims research and development (R&D) affecting many First Nations in Ontario in active claims despite promises of the Harper Conservative government to resolve specific claims quickly and fairly in 2007 in their Specific Claims Action Plan: Justice At Last.
Cuts will Impact Land Claims
Chiefs of Ontario state that a number of First Nations in Ontario have described the adverse impacts cuts to R & D will have on their specific claims and have issued an urgent call for the restoration of this funding, to no avail.
“I am perplexed as to how the Harper Conservative government can think that unresolved land claims (that will be the result of cuts to specific claims funding) will be helpful for third parties wanting to do business on or near First Nations’ territories in Ontario—it will, in fact, have the opposite effect,” charges the Regional Chief.
Cuts to both core and specific claims took effect on April 1, 2014. The Chiefs of Ontario (COO) this year, has taken an 80% cut in total core funding as result of both federal and provincial cuts and has been forced to lay off 10 staff. This will affect First Nations in Ontario who rely on COO for critical policy advice, regional coordination and advocacy in the areas of youth, social services, and economic development.