As a result of court decisions by the Supreme Court of Canada, Federal and Provincial Governments have started to develop policies around consultation and accomodation with First Nation. It is an issues that all governments in Canada are addressing. Even industries are affected by duty to consult with First Nations.
The duty to consult and accomodate First Nations is a legal duty that rests with the federal or provincial government. The duty to consult arises from the protection of Aboriginal and Treaty Rights set out in Section 35(1) of the Canadian Constitation Act of 1982.
It means that any action or policy by government that affects our aboriginal and treaty rights requires a consultation and accommodation process. In Ontario the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs is designated agency to facilitate this process. The government of Ontario began work on a consulation policy in 2006. It also means that any industry must follow this policy. It means that any project, like mining or other resources development under consideration must consult with us. No longer will they be able to come and tell us what they will be doing in our territory. They must inform us of all the project details so that we have an opportunity to express our concerns. More importantly they must accommodate us.
Most other forms of government like a municipality for example have the authority or jurisdiction to say what development happens in their town. They have the ability to give permits or to say no to development. First Nations have been ignored in this type of development. No longer will this happen as we have regained our jurisdiction to say who comes in to our territory, especially if it affects our treaty and aboriginal rights. They cannot ignore us anymore.
This project is about developing a process that we create so that the federal and provincial governments and industry will know what we require from them before they can work in our territory. Even policies by government require a consultation process that we can address through this project. So when program or services are affected by changes in governments policy, they must consult and accommodate us. It really comes down to excercising our jurisdiction. It is also about educating the burucrats who like to impose their policies on us. We can say no more, we have legal protection and they have legal responsibilities to follow the law. It is about community participation in developing this process. We must work together to protect our rights.
The following is a summary some of the information that was gathered during the New Relationship Fund Project during the first phase last year.
-Enforcing laws-protecting our interests. Hydro one working at ottertail road. Someone should have been working with them or monitoring. Was council notified of the work?
-involve off reserve members,
-Is it election time,
-What kind of jobs will be available when these groups come to do their work?,
-How do I get housing,
-No one is supporting our issues,
-Who runs the Band Office,
-Language is important,
-Recreation programs for the youth. Should be organized by a worker to keep the kids busy,
-How can outsider groups make changes without involving us?,
-Education. Are they going to change it so it is harder to get funding?,
-What about community meetings? That is consultation isn't it?,
-Understanding our new power that we say we have always had.