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TORONTO, April 7 – The Ontario Regional Chief and the First Nations Political Confederacy met with Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs Minister Michael Bryant on Friday April 4, 2008 for the initial meeting of the Ipperwash Implementation Priorities and Action Committee. This Committee, co-chaired by the Ontario Regional Chief and the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, is the oversight body for the implementation activities of the Final Report of the Ipperwash Inquiry recommendations. The First Nations Political Confederacy is comprised of the Ontario Regional Chief and the Grand Chiefs from the four Provincial-Territorial Organizations, the Grand Chief of the Mohawks of Akwesasne, the Chief of the Six Nations of the Grand River, and a Chief representing the Independent First Nations. Also in attendance at this meeting were Jeff Leal (MPP-Peterborough), Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Dave Levac (MPP-Brant), Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services. Deborah Richardson, Ontario Regional Director General for Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) was also present in the absence of INAC Minister, Chuck Strahl.
“The meeting with Minister Bryant was positive and provides a good foundation from which to move forward. I believe we all understand the need to collectively work together to comprehensively address those factors that have lead to the disputes that we see happening in Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug, the Douglas Creek Estates in Caledonia, and in Ipperwash Provincial Park in 1995,” stated Ontario Regional Chief Angus Toulouse. The Regional Chief indicated that the factors that led to the dispute in Ipperwash Provincial Park and ultimately the death of Dudley George still exist and there is clear recognition that collaborative effort between First Nations and government is a must in order to implement the necessary changes to address or eliminate these factors.
The April 4 meeting involved a discussion between the First Nations Political Confederacy and Minister Bryant with regard to preliminary next steps, including the identification of priorities with a specific timeframe attached. “The implementation of the Ipperwash Inquiry recommendations must be done with the full engagement of First Nations from the outset. We do not want government solutions imposed upon us. The First Nations are ready and expect to be engaged as full partners throughout this process,” said Regional Chief Toulouse. He further indicated that Minister Bryant has made the commitment to ensure that First Nations will be fully involved throughout the planning and action phase of the implementation process.
Regional Chief Toulouse indicated that at the beginning of the April 4 meeting, the Political Confederacy outlined the position of the First Nations leadership in Ontario with respect to the situation involving Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug. First Nations leadership in Ontario have made it clear that progress cannot be achieved on any issue until the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI 6) leaders are released from incarceration.
“This situation has created an outpouring of anger in First Nation communities, and the KI 6 must be released immediately. This situation needs to be resolved before we can talk about a genuine partnership or building a better relationship between First Nations and Ontario,” said Regional Chief Toulouse. The Regional Chief indicated that Minister Bryant has stated that Ontario will support the release of the KI leadership should an appeal be filed.
The Regional Chief explained that “Ontario has committed to building a better relationship with First Nations and the Ipperwash Inquiry recommendations provide a roadmap for moving forward together. The Chiefs have clearly relayed to Ontario that a new relationship must be based on First Nations Treaty and Aboriginal rights, and that the duty to consult and accommodate must also be fully implemented and respected in government policy in order to avoid future conflicts.”
The Political Confederacy and the Regional Chief are moving forward with cautious optimism. “We are engaged in a dialogue with Ontario that is promising; however, we cannot just talk. This dialogue has to be followed up with concrete action and clear time frames,” stated the Regional Chief. The April 4 meeting was the initial meeting of the Ipperwash Implementation Priorities and Action Committee. Future meetings of this group are expected in the upcoming months in order to implement key recommendations resulting from the Final Report of the Ipperwash Inquiry released May 31, 2007.
For further information: Pam Hunter (416) 597-1266 or Policy Advisor (613) 203-3233
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