Whitefish Island, Sault Ste. Marie, ON --- Today is the 166th anniversary of the signing of the Robinson Huron Treaty. The lands and waters around Lakes Huron and Superior provided the resources for European settlers to farm, fish, mine and trade with our Peoples. The rich resources of our lands allowed the future economic growth of what would later become the Province of Ontario and the country of Canada.
Monday’s Speech from the Throne will set a new agenda for the Ontario government’s final 20 months before the next election. This is a critical time to ensure that improving the socio-economic outcomes of First Nations becomes locked in as a high priority. We cannot lose the momentum gained through last year’s Political Accord and last May’s Statement of Reconciliation. And we can no longer ignore the commitments made to our ancestors to protect and to share all the lands and resources, according to Treaties signed both pre and post Confederation.
While the Ontario Liberals plan to “refocus priorities” and “reset the legislative agenda” this Monday, it is critical that improving the socio-economic outcomes of First Nations remains a critical benchmark of Ontario's success and integrity of its promises made. At the top of that list is ending the human rights crisis over unsafe drinking water - Ontario has said it will stand with us and seek to jointly compel Canada to act. While this is largely a federal responsibility, the Ontario Premier and her Cabinet has pledged to voice this matter as urgent.
More importantly, we must forge ahead on the now three-year-old commitment – promised in the 2013 Throne Speech - to implement a provincial Resource Revenue Sharing (RRS) policy with First Nations. RRS will not only allow our communities to become financially independent but it will also generate billions of dollars in additional revenues for both Ontario and Canada. First Nations must hear this commitment clearly from the throne.
The provincial government’s priorities for the next session of the legislature – according to Government House leader Yasir Naqvi – are also First Nation priorities. In fact, these priorities are what all Ontarians want: economic growth, job creation, and addressing skyrocketing hydro rates.
First Nations also want to be re-assured that we will be fully involved in the multi-billion dollar plans to combat climate change. Our peoples live on the front lines in the battle to fight global warming, from the Great Lakes to the boreal forests and muskeg. We are in a perfect position to protect and preserve our environment, while at the same time developing and providing green energy to the provincial power grid.
This province, and this country, was built because Treaties were signed with our Peoples. Now is the time to fully include First Nations and realize that promise of shared prosperity for all. Treaty benefits can no longer be heavily in the hands of the settler society in Ontario - the Spirit and Intent of the treaties must be spoken and heard clearly from the Crown’s Throne Speech - there is no alternative, the time for commitment to Ontario’s Treaty relationship is now.
Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day will be attending the Speech from the Throne and will be available to the media for comment following the speech.
The Chiefs of Ontario is an advocacy forum, and a secretariat for collective decision making, action, and advocacy for the 133 First Nation communities located within the boundaries of the province of Ontario, Canada.
For more info, please contact: Jamie Monastyrski, Communications: 807-630-7087 firstname.lastname@example.org