As 2016 came to an end, the holiday break provided some much needed time at home to spend with family and friends. On behalf of the staff in the political office and the Union of Ontario Indians, I would like to express our very best wishes for 2017.
I would also like to take this opportunity to extend my sincerest condolences to the families and communities that have experienced the loss of a loved. The passing of so many of our people, many of whom have contributed and committed to community development throughout their lifetime, compels many of us to give pause and make extra effort to live a healthier lifestyle and spend more time with family and friends.
In early December, we all anxiously awaited for the Anishinabek Education System vote results that had taken place throughout various communities in the Anishinabek Nation and in a number of urban centres located throughout the Anishinabek Territory, to be calculated. Twenty long years of negotiating the Anishinabek Nation Education Agreement (ANEA) for benefit of our future generations and communities is a significant and incredible achievement – one worth celebrating! We not only reached the required threshold to move forward, we exceeded it! I commend everyone who worked feverishly throughout the ratification period – Chi Miigwech! An official signing is planned for early summer.
Throughout December and January, Deputy Grand Council Chief and I attended a number of meetings on a wide-range of issues, which include:
- Assembly of First Nations Assembly
- Anishinabek Education System – three-day meeting with First Nations who ratified in favour
- Health Portfolio meetings – Chiefs Of Ontario
- Anishinabek Nation Urban Council engagement
- Multi –Ministry meeting for United Chiefs and Council Mnidoo Mnising Treatment Centre Plan
- Anishinabek Nation Water Needs Assessment – technician session to update report
- Political Confederacy meeting and meeting with Premier
- Minister Zimmer – Anishinabek Nation/Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Bilateral
- Anishinabek Nation Child Well-Being Law – working group session
- Anishinabek Nation Housing Blueprint – Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada/Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
- Union of Ontario Indians Health Conference – Anishinabek Nation Chiefs Committee on Health
- Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux @ Indigenous Northern Affairs Canada, Minister Bennett appointed Child Welfare Engagement lead
There are a number of pressing issues that have prompted correspondence and eventually meetings with a number of Ministers, provincially and federally, in addition to emerging concerns.