Chiefs from First Nations across Ontario gathered in Ottawa this week to meet with federal opposition leader Thomas Mulcair and members of his caucus, as well as Liberal critic for Aboriginal Affairs Carolyn Bennett. Chiefs pushed both parties to consider critical First Nations priorities in their upcoming election platforms including lands and resources, education funding, missing and murdered Indigenous women, and community safety concerns.
The Chiefs, representing the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians met with both parties to gain commitments on these key issues should either party succeed in ousting the Conservative Government in this year’s election.
“In our eyes, the conservative government does not support the growth and success of our Nations,” said Grand Chief Gord Peters of the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians. “They have demonstrated this through their lack of political will to be full participants in their approach to education, by ignoring calls for a national inquiry into our missing and murdered women, and by continuing to inadequately fund essential services like policing at unequal rates.”
Chiefs found both parties responsive and open to working with First Nations, but Chiefs were troubled by the Liberal’s recent support of Bill C-51, the anti-terror legislation that will have far reaching impacts for First Nations activists.
“Overall, we are happy to see both the NDP and Liberals are more engaged and willing to deal with our issues. We will continue to come to the table and share our concerns with them,” added Grand Chief Peters.
In his opening remarks, Tom Mulcair stated his party’s openness to working collaboratively with First Nations. “Around this table, you will always be welcome and you will always be listened to.”
During the two days of meetings on parliament hill, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs Bernard Valcourt was not able to meet with the AIAI Chiefs. However, the Chiefs committed to continue their lobby efforts and will press for further commitments to addressing serious concerns in their Nations.
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.