CHIPPEWAS OF THE THAMES (November 12, 2008) – The Anishinabek Nation and the Government of Ontario have taken another step in furthering their government-to-government relationship through a new bilateral process.

Today, Grand Council Chief John Beaucage, on behalf of the 42 member First Nations of the Anishinabek Nation and The Honourable Brad Duguid, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs signed an agreement establishing the Anishinabek-Ontario Protocol Roundtable that will create a new formal dialogue between First Nations and the Crown.  The process will also be known as the “Anishinabek Table”.

“This table will strengthen our relationship with the Anishinabek Nation,” said Minister Brad Duguid, who participated in the joint announcement at the Anishinabek Nation’s Special Chiefs Assembly on the Chippewas of the Thames territory outside London, Ontario. “A stronger relationship will allow us to work together to create economic opportunities and address social issues within the Anishinabek Nation.”

“The Anishinabek Table will strengthen our relationship with the Crown as we advance towards our goal of self-government,” said Grand Council Chief Beaucage.

The Minister and Grand Council Chief will meet twice yearly to set priorities for Anishinabek Table discussion under six broad themes: Health Issues, Social Issues, Education, Lands, Resources and Environment, Government Relations and Communications.

Grand Council Chief Beaucage stressed the importance of ongoing dialogue seeking resolution between Ontario and the Anishinabek on issues of mutual concern, which he said can only serve to “promote respect, understanding, cooperation and good governance”.

“As we work towards self-government, there will always be a need for First Nations to maintain good working relationships with Ontario. This Roundtable process will allow us to formally track and implement our joint work plans,” he added.

The Anishinabek Nation has similar agreements with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources that led to the establishment of the Anishinabek-Ontario Resource Management Council and the Anishinabek-Ontario Fisheries Resource Centre.

Minister Duguid said these types of protocols have been “both valuable and successful for the Anishinabek Nation and Ontario in the past.”

“I expect and look forward to similar results between the Anishinabek and our Ministry,” he added.

The Anishinabek Nation incorporated the Union of Ontario Indians as its secretariat in 1949. The UOI is a political advocate for 42 member First Nations across Ontario. The Union of Ontario Indians is the oldest political organization in Ontario and can trace its roots back to the Confederacy of Three Fires, which existed long before European contact.