Ontario Chiefs and Province discuss key issues affecting First Nations communities

Posted by: Ira Timothy
in: News Release

Chiefs from across Ontario will enter into the second of a three-day meeting with the Ontario Government today, focusing on roundtable discussions with several members of Premiere Kathleen Wynne’s Cabinet. The purpose of the gathering is to renew a committed relationship between First Nations and the Province of Ontario in order to find a path forward on key issues affecting Fist Nations communities.

ON THE AGENDA

Resource Benefit and Revenue Sharing
Ministers: Northern Development and Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry, Aboriginal Affairs

First Nations do not currently receive benefits or revenues from resources that are developed by companies on traditional lands. The government has expressed openness to creating a system for resource benefit and revenue sharing for some time, but past dialogue has yet to produce a comprehensive plan.

Treaty Awareness
Ministers: Aboriginal Affairs

This meeting followed a statement made by Minister Zimmer in the provincial legislature on Wednesday. His statement committed the province to moving forward on the development of a Treaty Awareness Day. First Nations leaders are supportive of treaty education initiatives, but stress that First Nations need to be an equal partner in the process.

Mental Health and Youth Life Promotion
Ministers: Children and Youth Services, Health and Long-Term Care

Minister MacCharles is mandated to implement a Youth Suicide Prevention Initiative. This three-year plan will help communities build capacity to better respond to young people in crises. Ontario Chiefs will be encouraging the Minister to swiftly implement this initiative, and to also ensure First Nations leaders are an integral part of the process. The key issue being raised at this table is ensuring that the strategy is culturally inclusive for First Nations youth – a demographic that has the highest youth suicide rates across the country.

Palliative and Long-Term Care
Ministers: Health and Long-Term Care, Seniors Affairs

Health and long-term care is a priority service delivery area for first Nations. Current concerns include limited long-term care options in First Nations communities, as well as jurisdictional issues which impede service delivery for elders. This table will explore joint solutions between First Nations and the province.

Clean Drinking Water
Ministers: Environment and Climate Change; Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure

There are 50 First Nations communities in Ontario under boil water advisories, and another 10 which are under do not consume orders. Some communities have not had potable water for more than a decade. The province of Ontario is seeking ways to improve on-reserve access to safe drinking water outside of the legislation imposed by the federal government. Ontario and First Nations are looking to build a better relationship by expanding on current initiatives.

Education
Ministers: Education

Chiefs will stress the importance of addressing the gaps in education for First Nations students in a culturally competent way. Key issues include a lack of adequate resources, teachers with limited understanding of Indigenous history and issues, and an achievement gap in First Nations students. Ontario Chiefs uphold that control of education needs to rest within the jurisdiction of First Nations.

Poverty Alleviation through Business Development
Ministers: Research and Innovation; Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure

First Nations face significant financial and infrastructure barriers that prevent businesses on reserve from succeeding. These barriers include prohibitively high energy costs on-reserve, unpredictable government funding and programs, limited access to start-up funding, and infrastructure deficits.

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women
Ministers: Community Safety and Correctional Services, Minister responsible for Women’s Issues

First Nations women are murdered or go missing at an unacceptably high and over-represented rate. The First Nations Women’s Caucus will recommend that the Province of Ontario support education on family violence and sexual assault prevention, a needs assessment on family violence programs, police training initiatives, and public education on colonial racism and gender-based violence.


ABOUT AIAI
AIAI is mandated as a Provincial Territorial Organization (PTO) to defend and enhance the Aboriginal and Treaty rights of our seven member First Nations. Our member nations include: Batchewana First Nation, Caldwell First Nation, Delaware Nation, Hiawatha First Nation, Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, Oneida Nation of the Thames, and the Wahta Mohawks. Learn more at www.aiai.on.ca, on Twitter@AIAI_comms and on Facebook.

CONTACT
For more information, please contact Suzanne Morrison at smorrison@aiai.on.ca or 519.281.6238.

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