By Sarah Bissonette
Parry Sound North Star
PARRY SOUND – The federal government and Anishinabek First Nation moved a step closer to abolishing the Indian Act.
The Anishinabek First Nation, represented by Grand Council Chief John Beaucage, and the Government of Canada, represented by Minister of Indian Affairs Jim Prentice, agreed Friday afternoon to meet regularly and hammer out the community’s self-governance plan.
Both parties met at the Charles W. Stockey Centre for the Performing Arts Friday morning, where they signed an agreement to continue working towards a new plan.
The Anishinabek First Nation is comprised of 42 aboriginal communities, including Wasauksing, Moose Deer Point, and Henvey Inlet. In all, there are 633 First Nation communities governed under the Indian Act, Mr. Beaucage said. The Indian Act has governed First Nations people for more than 150 years.
“In terms of the Anishinabek First Nation, we have very strong leadership, we have strong chiefs, Chief Beaucage is a strong leader,” Mr. Prentice said. “And, in these communities, people are prepared to move ahead very rapidly in terms of leaving the Indian Act behind, assuming full responsibility for their rightful place as partners in this country of ours. The purpose of today was to talk about how we get there, how we achieve that kind of self-government.”
The agreement includes the blueprint is laid out for the Anishinabek to govern itself, including education, child welfare, economic development and social policy.
“These communities have taken it upon themselves to get out from under the security of the Indian Act. In order to do so, we need to form partnerships with the federal government in order to look at how we are going to do that,” said Mr. Beaucage.