Aboriginal peoples: relationships
How the government is building stronger relationships with the Aboriginal people in Ontario and working with them create a better quality of life and new economic opportunities.
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We’re forging stronger relationships with Aboriginal communities, working with them to improve social and economic conditions and working to resolve land claims. These are just some of the ways we’re going about it.
Political Accord between First Nations and the Government of Ontario
On August 24, 2015, Ontario and First Nations represented by the Chiefs of Ontario signed a historic Political Accord. The Accord creates a formal bilateral relationship framed by the recognition of the treaty relationship. The Accord reads:
- WHEREAS the First Nations represented by the Chiefs-in-Assembly (hereinafter "the First Nations") and the Government of Ontario (hereinafter "Ontario") wish to move forward together in a spirit of respectful co-existence and with a view to revitalizing the treaty relationship;
- AND WHEREAS the First Nations exist as self-governing Indigenous Nations and Peoples with their own governments, cultures, languages, traditions, customs and territories;
- AND WHEREAS the Ontario provincial Crown's jurisdiction and legal obligations are determined by the Canadian constitutional framework, which includes the common law and treaties entered into between First Nations and the Crown;
- AND WHEREAS the First Nations and Ontario recognize the importance of strong First Nations governments in achieving a better quality of life for First Nations and creating a better future for First Nations children and youth;
- AND WHEREAS this Accord expresses the political commitment of the First Nations and Ontario and will guide our positive working relationship. It is not intended to impact the interpretation of the rights, legal obligations or jurisdiction of the First Nations or Ontario.
NOW THEREFORE the First Nations and Ontario agree:
- That First Nations have an inherent right to self-government and that the relationship between Ontario and the First Nations must be based upon respect for this right. An inherent right to self-government may be given legal effect by specific rights recognized and affirmed by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, or through negotiated agreements and legislation;
- To build upon and link to existing bilateral or other community-led initiatives established between First Nations and Ontario;
- To host a meeting, at least twice per year, between the leadership of the Political Confederacy and the Premier and an agenda item which will include the joint assessment on the progress on the identified priorities and issues;
- To work together to identify and address common priorities and issues, that will include, but are not limited to, the treaty relationship, resource benefits and revenue sharing and jurisdictional matters involving First Nations and Ontario; and
- To work to resolve key challenges and impasses that impact the parties, including but not limited to, exploring the potential for the use of alternative dispute resolution processes.
Annual Premier’s Meeting
Every year, the Premier and the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs hold a meeting with Aboriginal leaders. It sends a strong signal that:
- Aboriginal people have an important relationship with Ontario
- the government and Aboriginal leaders are working to improve things of concern, including education, social and economic matters
Aboriginal Affairs Working Group
Ontario is a strong voice on the Aboriginal Affairs Working Group and was chair for the first four years. This is a national group that includes provincial and territorial ministers of Aboriginal Affairs and leaders of the five national Aboriginal organizations:
- the Assembly of First Nations
- Inuit TapiriitKanatami
- Métis National Council
- Congress of Aboriginal Peoples
- Native Women’s Association of Canada
The group works together to improve conditions for First Nations, Inuit and Métis people, including on issues such as:
- education and skills training
- improving economic development opportunities
- taking action to end violence against Aboriginal women and girls
The Ontario government and the Grand Council Treaty #3 are working to improve the well-being of members of 26 Anishinaabe communities in north-western Ontario.
On October 25, 2012, the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs and Grand Council Treaty #3 signed a new bilateral agreement to work together on:
- children and youth issues
- economic sustainability
Métis Nation of Ontario
In 2008, the Ontario government and the Métis Nation of Ontario signed a framework agreement that charts a course for a strengthened relationship.
The two groups are working closely to improve the well-being of Métis children, families, and communities while protecting and promoting the distinct culture, identity and heritage of Métis people.
We created Draft Guidelines for Ministries on Consultation with Aboriginal Peoples Related to Aboriginal and Treaty Rights. The overall goal of consultation is to provide protection to Aboriginal and treaty rights while furthering the goals of reconciliation between Aboriginal peoples and the Crown.