Highlights from the All Ontario Chiefs Conference 2013
Complications and Moving Forward: Where the Tables are At:
The Treaty Commission of Ontario:
Background: “Today, the 133 First Nation communities are located within the artificial boundaries of the Province of Ontario; within these boundaries also exists a complex interrelationship of treaty obligations, federal-provincial division of powers, statutory regimes, inherent jurisdiction, and constitutionally protected Aboriginal and Treaty rights; and a relationship where much reconciling must take place if peaceful coexistence is to be achieved.” (source: Chiefs of Ontario final submission to the Ipperwash Inquiry, Part 1 –July 2006).
Land Rights and Interests:
Consultation and Accommodation:
Background: Resolution 05/45- Protocol for Consultation and Accommodation directed the Chiefs of Ontario to work on a draft consultation and accommodation protocol based on the decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada, Haida and Taku River in consultation with the First Nation PTO’s, Grand Councils, and the Independent First Nations. Resolution 06/44- Protocol for Consultation and Accommodation–Phase II created the Consultation and Accommodation Technical-Legal Committee to undertake the development of the protocol in accordance with a work plan, coordinated by the Chiefs of Ontario.
Resource Revenue Sharing:
Resolution 08/11- First Nations Resource Revenue Sharing, adopted at the 34th All Ontario Chiefs Conference declared the negotiation of a regional resource revenue sharing arrangement with the current government be treated as a leading priority of the Ontario Regional Chief and the Political Confederacy; authorizing the appointment of a Task Force for this purpose.
First Nations Jurisdiction:
First Nation Policing:
Background: The Ipperwash Inquiry stated that “First Nations police services have a [questionable] existence in law. Although the federal Indian Act provides that a band council may establish a police commission, it does not set out a framework of governance, funding, police standards, and appointment and powers of officers. Nor does the Ontario Policing Act apply to First Nations policing services, beyond providing for the appointment and powers of constables.” In light of this, the report recommended that “federal, provincial and First Nation governments should commit to developing a secure legislative basis for First Nation Police Services” which recognizes them as essential services as opposed to enhanced services, which they are currently considered.
The objective here is to facilitate exploratory discussions regarding First Nations governments’ and provincial jurisdiction with an eye toward clarifying patterns of overlap and conflict stemming from competing claims to governing authority. The topic of jurisdiction has not been deemed a priority by the government of Ontario; however it remains a priority for First Nations. Additionally, the Premiere of Ontario and the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs have made a political commitment to commence discussions on jurisdiction after the provincial election in October 2011.
The Ipperwash Inquiry recommendations called for the government of Ontario to “establish and fund an Ontario Aboriginal Reconciliation Fund, modeled on the First Nation New Relationship Trust fund in British Columbia. Its purpose would be to improve the capacity of First Nations...to participate in many land claims, treaty, or aboriginal policy and consultation processes underway in the province.” Instead, on May 15, 2008, the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs Michael Bryant announced the New Relationship Fund, which was unilaterally developed by the Ontario government.
Heritage and Burials:
The Final Report of the Ipperwash Inquiry provided recommendations that focused on greater First Nation participation in policies that deal with heritage, burial and sacred sites. Since then a working group has been established with representatives from First Nations and Ontario ministries including Tourism and Culture, Small Business and Consumer Relations, Municipal Affairs and Housing, and Aboriginal Affairs.