The Political Accord
In June 2014, the Political Confederacy was mandated by the Chiefs In Assembly to establish a political task force that would develop a strategic plan to promote a new relationship with province of Ontario. This mandate is captured in Resolution 14/30: Advancing a Defined Political Strategy with the Ontario Premier and Cabinet.
In response to the Chiefs in Assembly’s mandate, the Political Confederacy advanced a proposal with the Premier of Ontario that called for the establishment of a Political Accord. This Accord would affirm Ontario’s commitment to working within a government-to-government relationship and would further frame our joint priorities and actions.
Since the 2014 Ontario election, Premier Kathleen Wynne has committed to making transformative change that would see First Nations leaders as part of the decision-making process and restore the Treaty relationship. Under Resolution 14-30, Chiefs of Ontario has been working to keep the Premier to her word.
Chiefs in Assembly passed Resolution 14/30 calling for a new relationship with the Premier of Ontario and Cabinet. To fulfill this mandate the Political Confederacy (PC) negotiated a Political Accord with the Premier of Ontario, which will:
- Promote our bi-lateral relationships between First Nations and Ontario by strengthening and supporting existing processes;
- Establish a process to identify joint priorities;
- Establish mechanisms such as an alternative dispute resolution process to resolve high-level areas of jurisdiction;
- Uphold First Nations inherent right to self-government; and
- Implement and explore First Nations jurisdiction through a piloted initiative.
The Negotiation process consisted of a political and technical table. As part of the mandate, the PC established a Political Task Force, which includes Grand Chief Gordon Peters, Grand Chief Mike Mitchell, and Ogichidaa Warren White. In addition, Grand Council Chief Patrick Mahadabee has provided support by acting as an alternate while the Regional Chief, Stan Beardy, remained ex officio to the process. To support the political discussions, a First Nations technical team was established and consisted of representatives from COO, AIAI and UOI.
The Political Confederacy has taken measures to provide information on the proposed accord and process by hosting regular conference calls throughout May and June 2015. Chiefs of Ontario has regularly distributed memos to provide updates to the negotiations.
On May 29, 2015, the negotiation process was successfully concluded with the support of both tables. A final draft of the Accord content was provided to the Political Confederacy and the First Nations Leadership for final consideration at the All Ontario Chiefs Conference (AOCC). It was adopted by the Chiefs in Assembly during the June 2015 AOCC.
Now the Chiefs of Ontario will set a joint work plan that will be used to guide the new process to initiate immediate action as outlined in the Political Accord.
This Accord is also coming at a time when the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) recommendations call on the Canadian governments to work jointly with First Nations governments to determine ways to rebuild their relationship that is rooted in the Treaty Relationship.
- November 2014: The Political Confederacy tabled the proposal, Polishing the Chain, with Premier Kathleen Wynne at their Annual meeting.
- January 2015: The Political Confederacy held a strategic planning session to develop an approach for negotiations;
- February 2015: The PC Negotiation Team meet with the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs to confirm the negotiation and approval process of the draft Political Accord.
- March 2015: The PC approved the first draft of the Political Accord.
- April – May 2015: The PC and MAA were involved in the negotiation process.
- May – June 2015: The PC hosted regular conference calls to provide updates to Leadership on the process
- June 2015: the Final Draft Accord was brought to the Chiefs in Assembly for final consideration and approval. It was adopted by the Chiefs in Assembly.
- Fall 2015 – The Chiefs of Ontario will host two Jurisdictional Think Tanks in the North/South Regions. The purpose of the Think Tanks to explore concepts and best practices on issues related to jurisdiction. Each Think Tank will be designed specifically for North and South regions to ensure the diversity of our interests and landscape are appropriately captured.
- A formal ceremony between the Political Confederacy and the Premier of Ontario will be held to witness the signing of the Political Accord. (TBD)
- “With this Accord, First Nations and Ontario have committed to strengthening a new relationship. I look forward to working with Ontario in developing a comprehensive strategy and framework that will fully utilize this Accord to advance our jurisdiction and Treaty rights on our terms.” – Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day
- “We are in the midst of a changing social and political environment. Where First Nations are not alone in the fight to protect our lands, resources and water but are joined by other Canadians to voice our common interests. This Accord captures this social shift and is a tremendous step forward in building a new political relationship between First Nations and the Government of Ontario.” – Grand Chief Gord Peters for the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians