Mamakwa, Rickford, release statements for Treaties Recognition Week
Tim Brody - Editor
This week is Treaties Recognition Week in Ontario and on Nov. 7, Greg Rickford, Minister of Indigenous Affairs and Sol Mamakwa, MPP for Kiiwetinoong and NDP critic for Indigenous and Treaty Relations, both released statements about the week.
Rickford shared in a media release, “This week, Ontario is marking the seventh annual Treaties Recognition Week by encouraging students and the public to learn more about treaties and how they form the basis of the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in this province.
“Treaties Recognition Week was introduced by the province in 2016 in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action to honour the importance of treaties and to help students and residents of Ontario learn more about treaty rights, treaty relationships and their relevance today.
“Our government is working with Indigenous and education partners to deliver treaty awareness events in schools and public libraries across the province and continue to expand the teaching and learning resources to support business, organizations and all people in Ontario with learning about treaties — a critical step in the path to reconciliation.
“Although many treaties were signed more than a century ago, these agreements remain relevant today and provide the foundation for ongoing co-operation and partnership between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.
“I am deeply grateful to the many Indigenous Elders and knowledge keepers who generously share their understanding and perspectives on treaties each year.
“I encourage everyone to learn more about the important role treaties play in our province’s history and heritage, and in our lives and relationships with each other today, as we move forward together to advance reconciliation.”
Mamakwa shared in a video released on his social media platforms, “It’s Treaties Recognition Week in Ontario. I’m here at Queen’s Park.
“In my work I think a lot about what progress have we made toward respecting treaty relationships in Ontario. Treaties are binding, nation to nation agreements. Treaties were signed so that the Crown could gain access to land and resources in exchange for meeting the needs of First Nations people. Things like access to healthy food, education, healthcare, housing and infrastructure. We were meant to share the resources with the Crown.
“We should know that First Nations people had to move to reserves in order to enter these treaties. First Nations are still Nations, we never gave up our sovereignty or jurisdiction. As far as I can tell our Nations have held up our end of the treaties.
“When I look around today, the Crown, the federal and provincial governments are flourishing. Look (pointing over his should at Queen’s Park) at how these governments have built themselves up. We were here long before any of this was. The governments of Ontario and Canada have never honoured the treaties. There is no resource sharing and what First Nations get for support is not even enough to cover the basic human needs. Far too many First Nation communities still have no clean drinking water. The education and healthcare systems are sub-standard. Homes are overcrowded.
“It’s time for Ontario and Canada to honour the treaties. It’s time to remember our commitments to one another. It’s time to respect and honour our sovereignty. It’s time to make change.”