2015 was a busy, but successful year for the Anishinabek Nation. We achieved some significant milestones and laid the ground work for achieving more initiatives during the coming year. 2016 will be a critical year for the Anishinabek Nation, it is important that we continue to make progress on Anishinabek Nation initiatives.
We attended four Regional Chiefs meetings during the last three months. The Southeast Chiefs and Southwest Chiefs met in Sault Ste. Marie, the Lake Huron Chiefs met in Garden River, and the Northern Superior Chiefs met in Fort William. We enjoyed attending the sessions, meeting Anishinabek Nation Chiefs, and working on First Nation issues with all four regions during these meetings.
There are several new Chiefs that have been recently elected. Deputy Grand Chief Hare and I have recently met with the new Leadership. We welcome the new Anishinabek First Nation Leadership, we are looking forward to working with all of the Leadership.
We had a successful year working with the Provincial government in 2015. The Anishinabek Nation – Ontario Summit in August highlighted this relationship. The Anishinabek Nation made significant progress at the summit with Premier Wynne and the eight Cabinet Minsters that attended the summit. We have been working with our Ontario colleagues to ensure that the progress is maintained. We were successful at coordinating several side meetings between the Anishinabek Chiefs and appropriate Cabinet Ministers during the summit. Premier Wynne and I also had a one on one meeting during the summit.
We held two Leadership Table meetings with Aboriginal Affairs Minister David Zimmer during 2015. The last meeting which was held in November focused on follow up from the Anishinabek Nation – Ontario Summit. The meeting also included discussion on some specific individual First Nation issues. Leadership Table meetings were also held with the Ministry of Transportation, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, and the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines. We are currently planning for future meetings with each of these Ministries. The Anishinabek Nation Education Framework Agreement was signed in November. Education Minister Liz Sandals signed the agreement on behalf of Ontario.
We are planning to advocate with the newly elected federal government. We had a brief meeting with Carolyn Bennett, the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs during the AFN Assembly. Minister Bennett committed to a follow up meeting early in the new year. We have sent a letter confirming our meeting request and we are working with staff from their department to schedule this meeting. 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.
We have developed many initiatives during the last few years, it is now time for implementation. 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 intend to focus on implementation activities.
Deputy Grand Chief and I enjoy travelling to Anishinabek communities and we are currently planning visits to several 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.
We have a limited time to put together a comprehensive strategy. The Provincial government will be in election mode by next year, the Federal government has made many promises and will have plenty of requests. The two levels of government will be looking at Communities and organizations that have developed plans that are ready to go. We intend to focus on developing comprehensive plans in the near future.
We have attended the following meetings recently:
• Lake Huron Chiefs meeting
• Trilateral First Nations Health Senior Officials Committee meeting
• Anishinabek Christmas Dinner – Thunder Bay
• Assembly of First Nations Executive meeting
• Meeting with INAC Regional Director General Howlett
• Assembly of First Nations Special Chiefs Assembly
• Ontario Caucus meetings
• Giiwednong Health Link meeting
• Anishinabek Educational Institute Articulation Agreement Signing with Niagara College
• Numerous meetings on behalf or with Anishinabek First Nation leadership
Grand Council Chief Patrick Wedaseh Madahbee
Deputy Grand Council Chief Glen Hare