QUEEN’S PARK - Sol Mamakwa, Ontario NDP Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation critic, will introduce a bill on Wednesday that will call for laws in Ontario to be in line with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
Mamakwa held a press conference at Queen’s Park to present his bill, a provincial answer to the call from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada for all three levels of government to fully adopt and implement the UN Declaration.
With the passing of this bill, the provincial government will recognize the basic human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples, as well as affirm its commitment to the process of provincial reconciliation.
“The Ford government needs to take concrete action towards establishing a respectful relationship with Indigenous people,” Mamakwa said. “We have seen too many examples in this province where instead of moving forward, the provincial government is moving backwards in its treaty obligations and relationship with Indigenous people in Ontario.”
Since Doug Ford began his term in office, he removed Reconciliation out of the mandate of the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs, he has cut funding for Indigenous curriculum development and he cut Ontario’s Indigenous Culture Fund. The government has made no movement to clean up mercury-contaminated sites in the English and Wabigoon rivers affecting Grassy Narrows First Nations and Wabaseemoong.
To this day, the Ford government has not helped children and families in Cat Lake First Nation who have been under a state of emergency since Jan. 16. Since the emergency was declared, a Cat Lake First Nations woman has died, and there are currently 100 children with skin and respiratory illnesses, some with conditions so severe they have been medevaced out of the community.
“If we are to start building a path towards reconciliation with Indigenous people in Ontario, an important step in that direction is ensuring that our fundamental human rights, and rights as Indigenous people are respected under provincial law. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommended the UN Declaration as a legal framework towards that goal,” Mamakwa said.
“That is why today, I am calling on all Ontario MPPs to support my bill that would align the laws of Ontario with United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This bill represents much needed action at the provincial level towards creating a new relationship with Indigenous people and aligns with the current federal bill, C-262, now before the Senate. We will continue to advocate for a true nation to nation relationship based on respect."