Ontario First Nations applaud Throne Speech

TORONTO, Nov. 29 /CNW/ – Grand Council Chief John Beaucage attended the Speech from the Throne today at the invitation of Premier Dalton McGuinty. That invitation and the content of the speech didn’t disappoint.

Grand Council Chief Beaucage applauded the initiative of the new Liberal government as something the Anishinabek Nation could support and work with.

The willingness of Ontario to implement the Ipperwash Inquiry Report recommendations and “forge a stronger, more positive relationship” is welcomed by the Anishinabek Nation.

“This is the first time in years that a provincial government in Ontario has given First Nations issues some priority,” said Grand Council Chief Beaucage. “That in itself is worth commending.”

“With these words in the Throne Speech, the direction of this government give us hope, as well as high hopes for the new stand-alone Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs,” said Beaucage. “Now the Premier and Minister Bryant need to work closely with us to make those words reality.”

Despite his encouraging remarks, Grand Council Chief Beaucage made reference to Tuesday’s meeting with The Hon. Michael Bryant. The new Minister of Aboriginal Affairs was greeted coolly by a cautious group of 42 Chiefs at the Anishinabek Nation’s Fall Assembly.

“Our Chiefs continue to be cautious. For far too long, we’ve been let down by politicians and excluded from the system,” said Beaucage. “This is the opportunity for the Government of Ontario to prove themselves and work with us to improve the lives of Ontario’s First Nations people.”

The Anishinabek Nation shares the same priorities with the McGuinty Government with regard to building relationships and enhancing First Nation economies.

Beaucage hopes to be working closely with Minister Bryant and his Cabinet colleagues to develop a self-government negotiating policy to engage the Province of Ontario in the many areas of self-government, including justice, health care, natural resource management, education and economic development.

Other highlights from the Throne Speech include the expansion of economic opportunities for First Nations people on and off-reserve.

“We are calling on the Province to come to the table to discuss equitable agreements for gaming and resource revenue sharing, and a new approach to supporting economic development,” said Beaucage. “With the involvement of Ontario, our goal of developing self-sufficient regional and local economies is just one step closer.”

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

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