SIOUX LOOKOUT – MPP Sol Mamakwa (Kiiwetinoong), Ontario NDP critic for Indigenous and Treaty Relations, says Premier Doug Ford’s choice to combine Northern Development and Mines (MNDM) and Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF), all under the control of the Minister of Indigenous Affairs (IAO) undermines Indigenous interests. Mamakwa released the following statement:
“On June 18, 2021, while all attention was focused on finding our children’s hidden graves, Doug Ford announced a cabinet shuffle which would set the stage to further undermine our Indigenous inherent rights and jurisdiction.
The merging of the ministries of Northern Development and Mines (MNDM) and Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF), under the control of a Minister, Greg Rickford, who also has responsibility for the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs (IAO), should cause us all to pause and reflect on what this means. The concern is that since this government came into power there has been a concerted effort to undermine any momentum towards meaningful Indigenous consultation and regulatory environmental processes.
While Ford attempts to appease us by calling Indigenous people his ‘friends,’ this government has shown their true intentions by unapologetically slashing the Indigenous Affairs budget and leaving behind any First Nations who are not willing to fall into line with provincial direction in resource development discussions and negotiations.
It is problematic for the government to once again reduce the responsibility for Indigenous issues under two larger ministries focused on land and resource extraction. This government continues to ignore the Recommendations of the Ipperwash Inquiry that are the responsibility of the province, including having a Ministry of Indigenous Affairs with a dedicated minister, not one split between multiple ministries. What happens when there is a conflict-of-interest between the aims of the resource industries and Indigenous communities?
As First Nations people, our past, present and future identity is one with the land. Our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health relies heavily on this connection. As we weigh the potential benefits of resource development alongside the health of our land and our people, let us consider what it means to be the premier’s Indigenous ‘friends,’ as he slashes the Indigenous Affairs budget and disregards the duty to consult all impacted First Nations.”