The Anishinabek Nation made significant progress during the month of November. We held our annual Fall Gathering on November 17, 18, and 19 in Sault Ste. Marie.
The first day was a Chiefs Gathering where we discussed important matters such as Anishinabek Nation Inherent Jurisdiction, the Anishinabek Nation Action Plan, the Chippewa of the Thames appeal of a federal court decision, and strategic planning for upcoming meetings at the Chiefs of Ontario and the Assembly of First Nations. Bob Rae also attended the gathering and provided advice on how we can more effectively implement our action plan strategies with the federal and provincial government.
The second day focused on the Anishinabek Nation Child Well-Being Law and System Development. The morning session included information regarding the establishment of the Child Well-Being working group, an update on the Development of the Anishinabek Nation Child Well-Being System Structures, an update on the Aboriginal Child and Youth Strategy, an update on Ontario CFSA Review Report, and information on the Anishinabek Nation Child Well-Being Law – First Nation Approvals. The afternoon session included breakout session where participants were able to attend session on a wide variety of topics.
The third day focused on the Anishinabek Nation Education System. The earlier part of the day featured the Anishinabek Nation – Canada Education Agreement, introduction of the Ratification Committee, and the launch of Education Ratification Website – www.sayyestoaes.ca . The exciting new website was demonstrated to the people in attendance. We are pleased to report that 29 First Nations have submitted Band Council Resolutions approving the initialling of the Anishinabek Nation Education Agreement. The second part of the day was highlighted by the signing of the Master Education Framework Agreement between the First Nations and Ontario. Education Minister Liz Sandals signed the agreement on behalf of Ontario. Elder Gordon Waindubence conducted a pipe ceremony prior to the signing of the agreement. It was great to see a large turnout of our Leadership and citizens over the three days.
We held our semi-annual Leadership Table with Aboriginal Affairs Minister David Zimmer on November 5, 2015. The meeting was held in the Aboriginal Affairs Gathering Room which offers a space to conduct meetings using traditional Indigenous ceremonies. A dedicated ventilation system safely allows for smudging practices. The meeting focused on follow up from the Anishinabek Nation – Ontario Summit. The meeting also included discussion on three individual First Nation issues on behalf of Thessalon First Nation, Beausoleil First Nation, and Georgina Island First Nation.
We attended the Chiefs of Ontario Special Chiefs Assembly and Leaders in the Legislature in Toronto on November 24, 25, and 26. The agenda included topics such as Securing Our Rightful Place, which is a Political Confederacy strategic plan, an AFN Protocol, and an Energy Update from the Chiefs Committee on Energy. Premier Kathleen Wynne attended and participated in a question and answer session on the first day. The second and third day featured several roundtables in the areas of Lands and Environment, Health, Youth, Relationship, Wealth Creation, Education, Remote Infrastructure, Energy, Justice, and Child Welfare. There was an opportunity for Leadership to meet with individual Cabinet Ministers on a one to one basis.
We attended three Regional Chiefs meetings during November. The Southeast Chiefs and Southwest Chiefs met in Sault Ste. Marie while the Lake Huron Chiefs met in Garden River. The Northern Superior Chiefs met in October. We enjoyed attending the sessions, meeting Anishinabek Nation Chiefs, and working on First Nation issues with all four regions during these meetings.
We have developed many initiatives during the last few years, it is now time to implement these initiatives. We cannot be afraid to move forward, our people are waiting for action. We may have to fight for our rights and need to ensure that the federal and provincial governments are aware that we are ready for action. It is important that we continue to assert our jurisdiction. There is plenty of positive activity occurring in Anishinabek territory. We are moving forward in education, child well-being, Anishinabek Nation law development, and constitution development. We are pleased to report that there are now five Anishinabek Communities that have ratified their community constitutions, while several others are in development.
We have made progress with the provincial government this year. We are making plans to advocate with the newly elected federal government. We have sent a letter to Carolyn Bennett, the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs requesting a meeting during the AFN Assembly. The mandate letter issued by Prime Minister Trudeau identified that no relationship is more important to him and to Canada than the one with Indigenous Peoples. We have a bi lateral Leadership Table protocol with the federal government that has been inactive, we will be seeking to reactivate this process. Many of our initiatives require the cooperation of both levels of government to ensure successful implementation.
There are several new Chiefs that have been recently elected. Deputy Grand Chief Hare and I have either met or will be meeting new the Leadership in the near future. We welcome the new Anishinabek First Nation Leadership, we are looking forward to working with all of the Leadership.
Deputy Grand Chief and I enjoy travelling to Anishinabek communities. We have visited all of our communities during the last year. If you would like to schedule us for events in your community please contact Lynn Bowerman, Executive Liaison, who manages our travel schedule.
It is an exciting time in Anishinabek territory, there are many initiatives in progress at this time. We are ready to exercise our jurisdiction, move forward, and show our strength as a Nation. I have spoken frequently of the requirement to implement our initiatives, I believe that 2015 has been a successful year for the Anishinabek Nation and I look forward to achieving more progress in 2016.
As we approach the end of 2015, it is important that we reflect on what we have achieved and take an opportunity to rest during the holidays. 2016 will be another critical year in moving forward with Anishinabek initiatives. We wish all of you a good holiday, we are looking forward to seeing and working with you in the New Year.
We have attended the following events recently:
• Anishinabek Nation Chiefs Gathering
• Southeast Chiefs meeting
• Southwest Chiefs meeting
• Lake Huron Chiefs meeting
• Leadership Table – Minister of Aboriginal Affairs David Zimmer
• Ontario First Nation Housing Steering Committee
• Numerous Community visits
• Non-insured health benefits review committee meeting
• Political Confederacy meeting
• Chiefs of Ontario Special Chiefs Assembly
• Chiefs of Ontario Days in the Legislature
• Meeting with Health Minister Hoskins
• Meeting with Ontario midwives
Grand Council Chief Patrick Wedaseh Madahbee
Deputy Grand Council Chief Glen Hare