TORONTO – The Province of Ontario has committed to moving forward with the development of a Treaty Awareness day, during the Nov. 26 announcement by Minister of Aboriginal Affairs David Zimmer in the Provincial Legislature
“We support the initiative of a Treaty Awareness Day, and know that there is a benefit to educating residents of Ontario about their responsibilities to the treaties,” said Grand Chief Gord Peters of the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians. “However, this initiative needs to be a true partnership between the Province and First Nations. We are the experts in our history and our treaties, and the Province cannot adequately move forward on this initiative without our guidance and leadership.”
Minister Zimmer has been mandated by the Premiere to move forward with strategies for public awareness and education regarding treaties in Ontario as well as forging stronger working relationships with First Nations. In his statement, the Minister outlined the importance of educating Ontarians on their role in honouring the treaties.
In response to Minister Zimmer, NDP House Leader Gilles Bisson challenged the government to not just dedicate one single day to education about the treaties, but to practice what they preach and actively live out their treaty responsibilities. He cited inequities in resource sharing, high rates of poverty, and funding shortages for essential services like housing, education and clean water as examples.
In response to the statement in the Legislature, Grand Chief Peters also added that “treaties are a relationship of coexistence. They set the responsibilities of both parties in sharing the lands and resources. When the treaties are honoured as originally intended, everyone reaps the benefit.”