Sol Mamakwa is continuing to take the fight to Premier Doug Ford, as he called on Ontario’s Premier to include First Nation communities in economic recovery activities and to respect Aboriginal and Treaty rights in the province.
Mamakwa, Kiiwetinoong’s MPP and the Opposition Critic for Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, says he failed to consult Kiiwetinoong communities on Bill 197, which was introduced earlier this year.
“First Nations have been clear: it is disrespectful to bury legislation that affects our rights and our Treaty lands in omnibus bills like Bill 197,” said Mamakwa, during question period at Queen’s Park.
“It is very disappointing that while First Nations have prioritized keeping communities safe during this pandemic, the Ford government felt it was an appropriate time to pass an omnibus bill violating constitutionally protected Indigenous and Treaty rights.”
“Why does this government conduct itself in a manner that disrespects and dishonours the Treaty relationship?”
Bill 197 – the COVID-19 Recovery Act - was introduced earlier this year as Ontario moved into Stage 3 of their reopening framework, in the fight against COVID-19.
The new piece of legislation aims to streamline regulations in a number of sectors, as Ontario leadership says they want to reduce ‘red tape’ and ‘open for business’ to kickstart a slowed economy, due to the pandemic.
However, one of the new changes is to the Environmental Assessment Act. The changes seek to expedite projects from a 6-year average to 3-years, but won’t be taking land claim settlements and other agreements with First Nation communities into consideration, which were outlined when the original Treaties were signed.
“Most of the communities in my riding are still in lockdown. They could not participate fully in any consultation exercises – if there was any- while this pandemic is happening,” added Mamakwa.
“As a Treaty partner, this government must learn to respect the Treaty relationship before it is damaged beyond repair. Economic recovery from the effects of COVID-19 should not exclude First Nations and should not come at the expense of our Treaty rights and the land.”
Earlier this week, Mamakwa took a stand against the abuse of Treaty rights by remaining seated during the singing of O Canada and God Save the Queen in Queen’s Park Legislature building, saying the statement was in honour of his ancestors, who signed the original Treaties with the Crown.
“I Know Canadians and Ontarians share my commitment to fairness and justice for Indigenous Peoples,” wrote Mamakwa, on social media. “I sat down to honour my ancestors who signed the treaties with the crown. I will stand up when treaties are honoured by both levels of government.”
Acting Ontario Regional Chief and Grand Chief of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, Alvin Fiddler, supported Mamakwa in the movement, saying he made a ‘powerful statement’.
“No one should be forced to participate in symbolic acts that they view as oppressive. I support his choice and it should be respected,” wrote Fiddler, on social media.
Northern New Democrat MPPs are calling on Ford to respond to First Nations who have contacted him about their concerns.
For more information:
Mamakwa defies ‘oppressive’ practice in Queen’s Park
Ford ‘trampling’ on Treaty rights, Mamakwa