TORONTO – Tomorrow, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will host a First Ministers Meeting with National Indigenous leaders that will focus on ways to include our Peoples in strong, sustainable economic growth. For Ontario First Nations, there is a broad range of needs from access to a sufficient land base, to access to investment and capital in order to establish or expand economic opportunities.
“Ontario First Nations are ready and eager to begin moving forward with implementing policies and programs that will allow First Nations to freely pursue their economic, social, cultural, and community development in a way that represents their community values,” said Regional Chief Isadore Day, “Not only must we build sustainable economies, we must also be the stewards of our environment, including the water, which is a sacred responsibility for our future generations.”
“As the First peoples of this country, we must be first and foremost in all provincial and federal economic opportunities, from the new carbon economy to cannabis, from NAFTA to free trade zones, and re-establishing Indigenous trade routes within North America. The Federal family must be appropriate in its ongoing assertions and sharing of this lands economic bounty – whether it’s domestically or through international routes and trade systems. One immediate initiative is legislating federal and provincial contract set-asides and procurements that could positively impact every single First Nation community.
First Nations values are deeply rooted in the success of the future generations. Overcoming poverty requires building economies worth inheriting. Investing in economic development requires greater commitment and resources than the 3 per cent INAC budget that currently exists. First Nations need to build sustainable communities and economies that include; education, training, and health. It is an investment in our children and our future.
“The province of Ontario has committed to a renewed relationship with First Nations and have been moving forward on many issues, but there is still so much more work to do,” added Regional Chief Day. “The most urgent priority is a resource revenue sharing policy that will fully include our Peoples in the economic benefits of responsible resource development.
“At the same time, both Ontario and Canada must resolve outstanding land claims as quickly as possible. Canada became a country because we made treaties to share the lands and resources that originally sustained us, based on the principle that there was enough to share with newcomers without detrimental impact to our communities. It’s time to secure our rightful place in Canada’s economy. It’s time to respect the treaties, renew the relationship, and build economies that will benefit our Peoples and all Canadians.”