TORONTO – Today the Chiefs of Ontario and the Government of Ontario signed a historic Political Accord that will guide the relationship between First Nations and Ontario
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne signed the Accord for the Province, while Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day signed on behalf of the Political Confederacy and Chiefs-in-Assembly. The Accord creates a formal bilateral relationship framed by the recognition of the treaty relationship.
- Affirms that First Nations have an inherent right to self-government and that the relationship between Ontario and the First Nations must be based upon respect for this right.
- Commits the parties to work together on issues of mutual interest, including resource benefits sharing, the treaty relationship and jurisdictional matters.
- Sets a path for further reconciliation between First Nations and the people of Ontario.
The Accord also commits the Premier and First Nations’ leadership to meet twice yearly in order to further advance their efforts on shared priorities.
“The signing of this Accord represents a renewal of the relationship between the First Nations and Ontario and is an important step in the ongoing revitalization of First Nations communities. Most of all, it is an opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of peoples across the province, and to start to build a better future for our children and grandchildren,” said Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario.
“This political path forward for First Nations in Ontario is the most important collective milestone in modern times. With this Accord, First Nations and Ontario have committed to strengthening a new relationship. I look forward to working with Ontario in developing a comprehensive strategy and framework that will fully utilize this Accord to advance our jurisdiction and Treaty rights on our terms,” stated Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day Wiindawtegowinini.
“The signed political Accord is the culmination of months of negotiation between our government and the Chiefs of Ontario. I’m proud of my ministry’s role in this historic agreement, and our government’s commitment to working together with First Nations in a spirit of mutual respect and collaboration,” commented David Zimmer, Ontario’s Minister of Aboriginal Affairs.
“We are in the midst of a changing social and political environment. Where First Nations are not alone in the fight to protect our lands, resources and water but are joined by other Canadians to voice our common interests. This Accord captures this social shift and is a tremendous step forward in building a new political relationship between First Nations and the Government of Ontario,” added Grand Chief Gord Peters – Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians.
“The Political Accord signals a willingness of both parties to work together and resolve high level Ontario First Nation issues in a meaningful way,” said Anishinabek Grand Council Chief Patrick Wedaseh Madahbee, Union of Ontario Indians.
” The signing of this Political Accord lays the groundwork for a renewed relationship between the First Nations and the Province of Ontario. It is an indication that the Province is willing to work with First Nations for the betterment of all of our citizens. We welcome their commitment and look forward to working together on the implementation phase of the articles included in the Accord,” stated Chief Ava Hill, Six Nations of the Grand River.
Since the 2014 Ontario election, Premier Kathleen Wynne has committed to making transformative change that would see First Nations leaders as part of the decision-making process and restore the Treaty relationship. Under Resolution 14-30, Chiefs of Ontario has been working to keep the Premier to her word.
Chiefs in Assembly passed Resolution 14/30 calling for a new relationship with the Premier of Ontario and Cabinet. To fulfill this mandate the Political Confederacy (PC) negotiated a Political Accord with the Premier of Ontario, which will:
- Promote our bi-lateral relationships between First Nations and Ontario by strengthening and supporting existing processes;
- Establish a process to identify joint priorities;
- Establish mechanisms such as an alternative dispute resolution process to resolve high-level areas of jurisdiction;
- Uphold First Nations inherent right to self-government; and
- Implement and explore First Nations jurisdiction through a piloted initiative.
The Negotiation process consisted of a political and technical table. As part of the mandate, the PC established a Political Task Force, which includes Grand Chief Gordon Peters, Grand Chief Mike Mitchell, and Ogichidaa Warren White. In addition, Grand Council Chief Patrick Mahadabee has provided support by acting as an alternate while the Regional Chief, Stan Beardy, remained ex officio to the process. To support the political discussions, a First Nations technical team was established and consisted of representatives from COO, AIAI and UOI.
The Political Confederacy has taken measures to provide information on the proposed accord and process by hosting regular conference calls throughout May and June 2015. Chiefs of Ontario has regularly distributed memos to provide updates to the negotiations.
On May 29, 2015, the negotiation process was successfully concluded with the support of both tables. A final draft of the Accord content was provided to the Political Confederacy and the First Nations Leadership for final consideration at the All Ontario Chiefs Conference (AOCC). It was adopted by the Chiefs in Assembly during the June 2015 AOCC.
Now the Chiefs of Ontario will set a joint work plan that will be used to guide the new process to initiate immediate action as outlined in the Political Accord.
This Accord is also coming at a time when the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) recommendations call on the Canadian governments to work jointly with First Nations governments to determine ways to rebuild their relationship that is rooted in the Treaty Relationship.
- November 2014: The Political Confederacy tabled the proposal, Polishing the Chain, with Premier Kathleen Wynne at their Annual meeting.
- January 2015: The Political Confederacy held a strategic planning session to develop an approach for negotiations;
- February 2015: The PC Negotiation Team meet with the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs to confirm the negotiation and approval process of the draft Political Accord.
- March 2015: The PC approved the first draft of the Political Accord.
- April – May 2015: The PC and MAA were involved in the negotiation process.
- May – June 2015: The PC hosted regular conference calls to provide updates to Leadership on the process
- June 2015: the Final Draft Accord was brought to the Chiefs in Assembly for final consideration and approval. It was adopted by the Chiefs in Assembly.
- Fall 2015 – The Chiefs of Ontario will host two Jurisdictional Think Tanks in the North/South Regions. The purpose of the Think Tanks to explore concepts and best practices on issues related to jurisdiction. Each Think Tank will be designed specifically for North and South regions to ensure the diversity of our interests and landscape are appropriately captured.
- A formal ceremony between the Political Confederacy and the Premier of Ontario will be held to witness the signing of the Political Accord. (TBD)
- The opening prayer at the signing ceremony was provided by Elder Garry Sault from the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation.
- Tristen Schneider represented First Nations Youth and provided remarks alongside Minister David Zimmer and Grand Council Chief Pat Madahbee.
- The Chiefs of Ontario advocate on behalf of the 133 First Nations communities in Ontario.