OTTAWA, Sept. 10 /CNW/ – Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo and Ontario Regional Chief Angus Toulouse today confirmed their support for Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Chiefs in their call to the Ontario government to withdraw the Far North Act (Bill 191).
“Consistent with our rights, the treaties and the United Nations Declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples, First Nations must be fully and meaningfully engaged in all aspects relating to development in our territories,” said AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo. “The Ontario government’s approach to the proposed Far North Act is inconsistent with First Nation rights and the treaties and furthermore does not adequately fulfill the government’s duty to consult. Especially in regions like Northern Ontario where First Nations peoples make up 90 per cent of the population, it is absolutely essential that we get this right. The path forward must be one of full respect and engagement.”
Bill 191 proposes to protect about 225,000 square kilometers of Boreal Forest and was developed without input from the more than 24,000 First Nations peoples who inhabit over 30 First Nation communities in the area.
The implications of Bill 191 will go beyond the proposed protected area and will directly impact the Aboriginal and treaty rights of all 49 NAN First Nation communities, signatories to Treaty No. 9 and Treaty No. 5 and First Nations across the country.
“In a time when the Ontario government is working toward a ‘new relationship’ with First Nations in the province, we should be working together to protect the environment and balancing sustainable economic development opportunities,” said AFN Ontario Regional Chief Angus Toulouse. “Instead, Ontario has unilaterally introduced this legislation which would leave control over land-use planning to the government even when many First Nation communities within Treaty No. 9 and Treaty No. 5 have developed their own land-use plans and have repeatedly expressed the need to be involved in the process.”
NAN Chiefs announced their unanimous opposition to Bill 191 at a press conference in Thunder Bay August 13, 2010 following an emergency Chiefs Assembly on the issue. A national campaign opposing the Bill was launched September 2. For more information on this campaign please visit www.nan.on.ca.
The third reading of Bill 191 is scheduled for September 16, 2010.
Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) is an Aboriginal political organization representing 49 First Nation communities within James Bay Treaty 9 territory and the Ontario portions of Treaty 5. NAN territory covers two-thirds of the province of Ontario.
The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada.
For further information:
Jenna Young, Communications Officer, Assembly of First Nations 613-241-6789, ext 401, 613-314-8157 (mobile) or [email protected]
Don Kelly, A/Communications Director, Assembly of First Nations 613-292-2787 or [email protected]