Ties that bind - Treaty #3 reaffirms agreements
Grand Council Treaty #3 reaffirmed agreements last Thursday to work together with the ministries of Aboriginal Affairs, Northern Development and Mines, and Natural Resources on social supports and economic development opportunities.
Grand Chief Warren White took part in a signing ceremony with Aboriginal Affairs minister Kathleen Wynne and Northern Development and Mines minister Rick Bartolucci at the Couchiching multi-use facility during the Grand Council Treaty #3 National and Chiefs’ Assembly.
A working plan has been developed for 2012-13 to make progress on each of these priorities.
Meanwhile, Grand Council Treaty #3, the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, and the Ministry of
Natural Resources also signed a letter of commitment to help find practical approaches to economic development and the management of natural resources.
Grand Council Treaty #3 and the province will meet annually in Treaty #3 territory to continue discussions and review progress.
“Today we reaffirm our relationship with Ontario,” said Grand Chief White. “These agreements were already in place.
“Today we will reaffirm our commitment together with the three ministries, and also other ministries in Ontario, where we build a stronger relationship with Ontario,” he added.
Grand Chief White said there are many issues in communities, and this is an agreement whereby chiefs can bring concerns directly to their ministry partners, who, in return, can offer mandates and directions “as to better our communities, to better our Anishinaabe peoples, our young people, our elders, and our citizens of Treaty #3.”
He thanked the minister of Aboriginal Affairs “for her strong commitment to work with the Grand Council, to work with myself and the chiefs, to come up with solutions to better our peoples.”
Grand Chief White also thanked Bartolucci for his willingness to work with Grand Council Treaty #3.
Natural Resources minister Michael Gravelle could not attend Thursday’s signing due to a medical procedure, noted Grand Chief White, but Gravelle personally assured him he also is dedicated to working with the Anishinaabe nation, Treaty #3, and the chiefs.
“I am very honoured to be here,” said Wynne. “I believe very strongly that it is important for us to continue.
“As Ogichidaa [grand chief] said, there are many conversations that have begun, these agreements have been in place.
“It’s extremely important we reaffirm our commitment to the relationship, to continue to talk about the very important issues for the future, for us all and for your communities,” she stressed.
“Those are issues of education, those are issues of health, those are issues of economic development,” noted Wynne.
“It would be very difficult, without a relationship, for us to be able to resolve some of those issues because they require that we work together,” she added.
“That’s why these agreements are so very important, and we feel strongly, as members of the government, that it’s all of the ministries of the government that need to work with you and with your leadership.”
Bartolucci, meanwhile, congratulated and thanked the chiefs of Grand Council Treaty #3 for inviting the provincial delegates there to “help celebrate what we know, in the long-term, will be very beneficial to our children and to the youth,” as well as thanked the elders for performing a welcoming ceremony.
“This is a reaffirmation, as the Ogichidaa has said, of a commitment that was made previously, but like any commitment, we grow with every reaffirmation,” Bartolucci said.
“So this reaffirmation today, with regards to trying to explore opportunities for economic development within our treaty area and within our communities, is an opportunity to again understand each other, respect each other, trust each other, grow with each other,” he remarked.
“Because at the end of the day, the community members that have gathered here today and our youth will be the beneficiaries of our efforts.
“We are people of the Creator. We are committed to our people,” he pledged. “I look forward to what I will learn, and what we will do together.”
In addition to performing a ceremonial smudging and drum songs, elders presented Wynne and Bartolucci with gifts of moccasins.
Grand Chief White said the moccasins are a significant gift in Anishinaabe culture, and are a clear message to the province that Grand Council Treaty #3 wants to walk with them in the spirit of co-operation.
Grand Council Treaty #3 is the traditional government of the Anishinaabe Nation, and represents 26 member Anishinaabe communities in Northwestern Ontario and two in Manitoba that are signatories to Treaty #3, signed in 1873.
Commitments to enhance working relationships between Ontario and Treaty #3 communities first were set out in a letter of intent signed April 16, 2009 at the Mitaanjigamiing First Nation.
And again in a letter of commitment signed March 12, 2010 at the Waabigon Saaga’iganiig (Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation).