Premier, new Cabinet must 'step-up' when dealing with First Nations issues

NIPISSING FIRST NATION (October 30, 2007) – Grand Council Chief John Beaucage says that he is looking forward to working with a new Cabinet and the new Minister of Aboriginal Affairs but stressed that the McGuinty government, and Premier Dalton McGuinty in particular, needs to “step up” to advance their relationship with First Nations in Ontario.

“This Government needs to move beyond dealing with First Nations through a single Cabinet portfolio,” said Grand Council Chief Beaucage speaking from the southwest region of the Anishinabek Nation.  “Premier McGuinty, as a leader must step-up and show a government-wide commitment to addressing First Nations issues and moving forward on a government-to-government basis.”

“The stand-alone Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs is a positive and important first step forward in building a stronger relationship,” said Beaucage.  “I look forward to working closely with Minister Michael Bryant in bringing the issues and needs of Ontario’s First Peoples to Premier McGuinty and his new Cabinet.”

The Hon. Michael Bryant is not new to the Aboriginal Affairs portfolio, having served as the Minister Responsible for Aboriginal Affairs from 2003 to 2005.

“I have a great deal of respect for Minister Bryant and have maintained a good working relationship with him.  He brings a lot of energy, integrity and leadership to this new Ministry,” said Beaucage.Beaucage also notes that former Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Natural Resources, David Ramsay, will be missed as a Cabinet member.

“I am disappointed that David was not returned to Cabinet,” said Grand Council Chief Beaucage.   “It’s unfortunate that we are losing such a strong advocate and a friend to First Nations.”

Grand Council Chief Beaucage said that he was pleased with Premier McGuinty’s June 21st announcement that will see the new Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs work with the federal government on a new process that would expedite land claims here in Ontario.  He hopes this will be at the top of the agenda for Minister Bryant.

“I am hopeful that Minister Bryant would expedite the implementation of the Ipperwash Inquiry’s key recommendation to establish a Treaty Commission of Ontario,” said Grand Council Chief Beaucage.  “The province needs to recognize that they have an important role to play in land-claim resolution.”

Beaucage also looks forward to working with Minister Bryant on the New Relationship Fund, which will help First Nations communities strengthen their skills and resources to work more seamlessly with governments.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 inOntario and can trace its roots back to the Confederacy of Three Fires, which existed long before European contact.

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