In Ontario Doug Ford and his PC government make a mockery of Truth and Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples
Across the globe, Indigenous Peoples historically have had their rights and freedoms stripped away by deceptive legislation and unjust agreements between seemingly cooperative federal governments for centuries. In what is now known as North America, assimilation started when white European settlers arrived with false pretenses of cohabitating with the land’s original inhabitants. Under the guise of cooperation, settlers coerced First Nations, Inuit, and soon Metis peoples into unconscionable contracts. Presented as a way to “help each other”, these forced agreements systemically stripped away the rights of First Nations, Inuit, and eventually Metis peoples throughout Turtle Island, what we now know as the Dominion of Canada, the United States of America, and the United Mexican States.
In 2007, the United Nations announced the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) to begin the official process of recognition of assimilation and genocide perpetuated by settler governments across the globe. By 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada officially recognized the 94 Calls to Action necessary to attempt reconciling the country’s relationship with its Indigenous Peoples. The following year, the Dominion of Canada endorsed the Declaration and stated its commitment to ‘full and effective’ implementation. Five years later, UNDRIP received Royal Assent within the House of Commons, the Dominion’s settler official governing body. Now, September 30 is known as the official day of Truth and Reconciliation across the country.
The March for the Land in solidarity with the five First Nations who represent the Land Defence Alliance took place in what is now known as Toronto from Grange Park to Queen’s Park on September 27.
(Alexis Wright/The Pointer)
Reconciliation Education, an organization tracking the implementation and completion of the calls to action while offering to provide a “comprehensive, customized anti-racist education in line with the TRC's 94 Calls to Action”, states only 13 calls to action (CTA) have been implemented as of 2023 since its inception eight years ago. By these standards, that is less than two CTA’s completed per year.
According to First Nations-led research centre Yellowhead Institute, completed CTAs include:
#13: Federal acknowledgement of Indigenous Language Rights
#41: Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry
#48: Adoption of U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (DRIP) by churches and faith groups
#49: Rejection of the Doctrine of Discovery by churches and faith groups
#72: Federal support for the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation
#73: Federal Government and church Registry of Residential School cemeteries
#83: Reconciliation agenda for the Canada Council for the Arts
#85: Reconciliation agenda for the Indigenous Peoples’ Television Network
#88: Long-term support from all levels of government for the North American Indigenous Games
#90: Federal support for Indigenous sports programs and athletes
There are 37 CTAs in beginning proposal stages, 24 in the process of being completed, and 20 that have not been started. In-progress actions include:
#1: reduce the number of Indigenous children in the child welfare system by providing resources to Indigenous communities and cultural competence training to social workers
#17: requiring “all levels of government to enable residential school Survivors and their families to reclaim names changed by the residential school system by waiving administrative costs
#43 and #44: mandating the Canadian government to adopt the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and subsequently develop a national action plan to achieve its goals—are being worked on.
#62, #63, and #64: concerning education for reconciliation
#92: requires corporations to adopt the United Nations DRIP as a framework for all future operational activities, especially when involving Indigenous Peoples and their lands. It mandates that Indigenous Peoples have equitable access to corporate education, training and job opportunities, and that cultural competency and anti-racism training be considered a core component of professional development.
Thousands of attendees led by Indigenous community members from across what is now known as the province of Ontario marched in solidarity for land and water rights of Indigenous peoples to be respected, with the aim of pursuing conversations that end the possibility of mining in the Ring of Fire region.
(Alexis Wright/The Pointer)
MP Leah Gazan, representative of Winnipeg Centre, brought forward a motion for the second time—initially voted down in 2021—to declare the Residential School System in the Dominion of Canada genocide which unanimously passed in the House of Commons in October. Seven months later, after repeatedly asking for it to be declared an emergency, she introduced a motion to declare missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and Two-Spirit peoples, genocide, which also passed unanimously.
Of the 32 active boil water advisories in 28 Indigenous communities across the country, the majority—24 advisories in 21 communities—remain in Ontario; the longest has been in place for over 30 years.
In June, the United Nations Declaration Action plan was officially implemented after two years of consultations with all Indigenous communities from across the nation. The Action plan details the steps the federal government is taking over the course of the next five years to ensure progress towards completion of the directives, and, more importantly, reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. Each of the steps are separated into the categories of achievable completion: as soon as possible, in the short-term and long-term future.
However, several First Nations, Inuit, and Metis communities have stated the consultation process was rushed—they did not have time to thoroughly ensure effective action would be taken in all aspects of true reconciliation. Indigenous peoples follow the Seventh Generation principle. Based on an ancient Haudenosaunee Confederacy philosophy—the oldest and longest lasting participatory democracy in the history of the world—the principle states the seven generations who lived before and the seven generations who will follow must be considered regardless of content or context for every decision made.
While the Federal government has been slowly working toward implementation of the calls to action, the Doug Ford PC government in Ontario has made little progress, while many of its key priorities (many pushed by private sector interests) actively marginalize or violate Truth and Reconciliation mandates.
In late 2022, Ford announced Bill 23, the More Homes Built Faster Act, completely negating consultation with any First Nations before implementation. Sol Mamakwa, MPP of Kiiwetinoong, NDP’s deputy Leader and Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Critic, said “it’s very colonial of Ontario to abuse their power” in reference to the Act receiving royal assent, officially passing into provincial law thanks to the powerful PC majority which has ignored a range of federal and provincial legislative requirements when passing its own laws. The PCs could face legal challenges down the road, or continued scrutiny by Ottawa.
(Alexis Wright/The Pointer)
On November 23rd, Chiefs of Ontario released a statement describing Bill 23 as a clear violation of Indigenous constitutionally protected, inherent and Treaty rights that will cause ‘inevitable adverse environmental impacts’ on First Nations ancestral and traditional territories.
Chief Hare is responsible for speaking on behalf of the 133 First Nations across what we know as Ontario.
“It is deeply concerning to the Chiefs of Ontario that the mandate of the Indigenous Affairs Ontario (IAO) office, which is to ensure collaboration amongst ministries engaging and consulting with First Nations on policy and legislative changes, continues to be unfulfilled,” Chief Hare said in the statement.
“First Nations are not stakeholders; we are sovereign Nations and are entitled to proper consultation based on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and mutual respect.”
In May, five First Nations communities to be affected by the mining of the Ring of Fire filed a lawsuit against the provincial government citing the lack of free, prior, and informed consent and consultation noting serious environmental concerns and land encroachment by mining companies.
(Alexis Wright/The Pointer)
On September 26, several First Nations communities demanded an official meeting with Premier Doug Ford—a necessary component of free, prior, and informed consent that has not been offered to those directly affected by the Ring of Fire mining plans. The Premier refused their request, offering to send the Minister of Indigenous Affairs, MPP Greg Rickford, in his place. The Leaders of the First Nations declined.
The Land Defence Alliance is a coalition created in an effort to defend their territories in the Ring of Fire led by Asubpeeschoseewagong (Grassy Narrows), Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (Big Trout Lake), Wapekeka, Muskrat Dam, and Neskantaga First Nations.
More than half a century later, Grassy Narrows First Nation peoples are still experiencing the deadly consequences of the dumping of toxic waste into the English-Wabigoon river system by Dryden Chemicals leading to the surrounding lands and waters to be indefinitely damaged. It is estimated that the company dumped 9000 kilograms of lethal mercury upstream of the First Nation community into their main source of drinking water and food between the years of 1962 and 1970.
Due to the long-term, gruesome effects of mercury poisoning experienced by 9 in 10 peoples, mothers from Grassy Narrows have reported that almost 40% of youth in the First Nation community have attempted suicide—more than double the rate of any other Indigenous community. The extreme mistreatment and murder of Indigenous peoples across the world has led to the estimated rate of those dying by suicide to be three to four times higher than non-Indigenous peoples.
(Alexis Wright/The Pointer)
Four days after rejecting the request for consultation by the five First Nations in the surrounding Ring of Fire region, on Truth and Reconciliation day, Premier Ford posted to x, formerly twitter, a video of himself speaking on the necessity of reconciliation claiming that he stands with the Indigenous Peoples within what is now known as Ontario stating, “on this day, and every day, we honour them.”
Email: [email protected]
At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories to ensure every resident of Brampton and Mississauga has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you
Submit a correction about this story