THUNDER BAY – Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler, on behalf of the NAN Executive Council, has issued the following statement as the Government of Ontario will seek input on a proposal to repeal the Far North Act:
“We strongly oppose the Far North Act and are encouraged that Ontario is taking a second look at this controversial legislation. The Actwas enacted without meaningful consultation to legislate our territory under the control of the province and threatens the inherent, Treaty and Aboriginal rights of our people. Ontario does not have free reign to do as it pleases in the Far North, and we will defend our right to control development so that the wealth from our lands benefits our people and the growth of our Nation. We welcome the opportunity to engage with the province, but any process must begin with government-to-government dialogue in our traditional territories. We are prepared to facilitate a consultative process for the development of the lands and resources in NAN territory. In the meantime, First Nations engaged land-use planning under the Far North Act must have access to alternate sources of resources to continue this work.”
It is NAN’s position that a repeal of the Act will not mean uncontrolled development. It means balanced and shared development in accordance with the two NAN Treaties that requires First Nation consent in accordance with United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The Far North Act is aimed specifically at First Nations in NAN; the sole occupants of this remote area in northern Ontario. The provincial government has described the homelands of the NAN people as a “globally significant carbon sink” and has incorporated section 5(3) of the Far North Act to deal with storage and sequestration of carbon.
The Act is viewed by NAN First Nations as an invalid law and a new form of colonialism.
NAN and Ontario strengthened their relationship in April 2018 with the signing of the Treaty Relationship Agreement that reflects a revitalized relationship between the province and NAN as Treaty partners.