NIAGARA FALLS, ON (July 24, 2013) Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy, Grand Chiefs and Chiefs of the Political Confederacy are meeting in Niagara Falls, Ontario, this week to discuss critical issues confronting First Nations, including topics that have been highlighted by Premier Kathleen Wynne as she greets the Council of Federation, also in the Niagara region this week. “It is unfortunate that we won’t have the opportunity to work together on similar concerns and priorities,” said Beardy. “It is particularly concerning considering we are in Haudenosaunee traditional territory, the site of the 1764 Treaty of Niagara which set out the process for co-existence amongst our Peoples.”
Although the leaders of five National Aboriginal Organizations, including the Assembly of First Nations, were invited to meet with the Premiers a day before the meeting begins, Ontario First Nations will not have any direct active participation in the discussions. “Since requests to participate were rejected, it is our position that the Premiers should discuss how they will honour First Nations jurisdiction and sovereignty and move away from working in isolation and exclusivity,” stated Regional Chief Beardy.
The Regional Chief emphasized that First Nation inherent jurisdiction pre-exists Canada and its provinces and that First Nations believe that the exercise of their inherent jurisdiction is the only way to eliminate poverty in First Nation communities and all the impacts of colonization. Beardy also noted that the Prime Minister should be meeting with the Premiers in order to address the important issues that impact all jurisdictions.
It is estimated that approximately $600 billion in revenue is anticipated from multiple resource development projects over the next few years. This revenue will significantly contribute to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The Regional Chief indicated that these revenues and the many related spin-off benefits will not be realized if First Nations are not able to provide their free, prior and informed consent. It will also create economic uncertainty for investment which will affect the country’s economy. “As Indigenous nations, we retain our inherent jurisdiction and we are the owners of the lands and they need to work with us.”
The Chiefs of Ontario is a political 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.
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