Where does Ontario stand with our Indigenous population?
There are over 300,000 indigenous folks living in Ontario. Many live in northern Ontario, and their resources and infrastructure are sparse. Over the last few years, Attawapiskat first nation has been undergoing a youth mental health crisis, resulting in suicides. Another area of Ontario, Grassy Narrows, has a pollution crisis causing mercury poisoning, disproportionately impacting first nations communities. Again many of these issues are intersectional and Indigenous communities are also impacted by Healthcare and Environmental policy. In this section we will focus on Ford’s disregard for Indigenous peoples, which is clear based on his cabinet appointments and policy.
Are we honouring reconciliation?
Ford has scrapped a planned curriculum update for Indigenous-centric lesson plans. The Truth and Reconciliation Commision is a federal initiative, their Calls To Action report has recommendations that include provincial curriculums that scrapping the planned for curriculum goes against. Most notably under item 62; “. We call upon the federal, provincial, and territorial governments, in consultation and collaboration with Survivors, Aboriginal peoples, and educators, to: Make age-appropriate curriculum on residential schools, Treaties, and Aboriginal peoples’ historical and contemporary contributions to Canada a mandatory education requirement for Kindergarten to Grade Twelve students”.
How are these issues being represented in the administration?
The provincial Indigenous Affairs portfolio has been moved to one with two others; energy, northern development, and mines. Alvin Fiddler, Grand Chief of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN), which represents 49 First Nation communities in northern Ontario, says this sends a “clear signal that improving relations with Indigenous Peoples is not a priority for the Ford government. “It is difficult to see how progress can continue to be made when our interests are reduced to only be of importance insofar as they relate to the government’s ability to access the resources within our lands,” he says in a press release.
- Support Shannen’s Dream
- Follow Ground Zero INAC
- Follow Charlie Angus, an Ontario Member of Parliament who is active on these issues