Ontario Government Provides Preliminary Response To Ipperwash Inquiry Report

Archived Release

Ontario Government Provides Preliminary Response To Ipperwash Inquiry Report

Ministry of Indigenous Affairs

Government And Aboriginal Leaders Will Collaborate On Priorities For Action FOREST, ON, May 31 - The Ontario government welcomed the release of Justice Sidney Linden's Ipperwash Inquiry Report today and committed to collaborating with Aboriginal partners, the policing community and the federal government to review the report's findings and its recommendations. In November 2003, Attorney General Michael Bryant appointed Justice Linden to lead an independent public inquiry into the events surrounding the death of Dudley George in 1995. The government also asked Justice Linden to make recommendations to help avoid violence in similar circumstances. "I commend Justice Linden and his team for their hard work and dedication in producing this report," said David Ramsay, Minister Responsible for Aboriginal Affairs. "We can now move forward, and work together on the path outlined in this report. In fact, I have designated an Ipperwash response team to focus solely on this important work." The Ontario Secretariat for Aboriginal Affairs will co-ordinate the response to the report's recommendations for all matters except policing. The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services will address Justice Linden's recommendations that relate to policing. "Justice Linden's report and its recommendations will help us build on the progress we've already made in improving policing services for First Nations communities," said Monte Kwinter, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services. "We thank Justice Linden for helping us map a route to healing and for giving us some valuable guidelines for positive change." Ontario has worked since 2003 to make improvements in a number of areas mentioned in Justice Linden's report. These include policing, health, education and the relationship between the government and Aboriginal peoples. "We established Ontario's New Approach to Aboriginal Affairs based on mutual respect and building a better future for Aboriginal youth," added Ramsay. "Justice Linden's recommendations show we are on the right track." - Disponible en français For more information, visit www.aboriginalaffairs.osaa.gov.on.ca www.mcscs.jus.gov.on.ca Backgrounder ------------------------------------------------------------------------- ONTARIO'S NEW APPROACH TO ABORIGINAL AFFAIRS Contact Info Since October 2003 the McGuinty government has been implementing change to deliver better health care, education, economic opportunities and justice for Aboriginal peoples by working together in Ontario's New Approach to Aboriginal Affairs. In addition to launching the Ipperwash Inquiry in November 2003, Ontario has committed to a relationship of mutual respect with Aboriginal peoples that will lead to improved opportunities and a better future for Aboriginal children and youth. Health The McGuinty government invests $230 million annually on Aboriginal health programs and services including: - HIV/AIDS prevention - mental health and addictions - emergency health services - diabetes prevention and treatment - long-term care - physician services and - hospital services in the James Bay and Sioux Lookout areas. Ontario's Aboriginal Healing and Wellness Strategy, a network of over 250 community-based organizations, provides health, healing and anti-violence programs for Aboriginal people living in First Nation communities or in urban and rural areas. Education The McGuinty government is committed to strengthening Aboriginal voices and involvement in education, and to ensuring First Nations, Métis and Inuit students have every opportunity for success. Some of the actions taken by the government include: - A new $10.5 million annual grant introduced this year for school boards to offer Native Language and Native Studies courses, and support programs that assist Aboriginal students - Investing $12.7 million to improve achievement among Aboriginal students in provincially funded schools - Integrating First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples' histories, cultures and perspectives throughout the Ontario curriculum to increase knowledge and awareness among all students - Investing $9 million to improve programs and services for 7,600 Aborignal students enrolled in Ontario's colleges and universities and post-secondary learners in Aboriginal institutions - Establishing an Advisory Committee on Aboriginal Post-secondary Education in December 2005 that includes representatives from 13 Aboriginal groups and advises the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities on priorities and issues related to access and student success of Aboriginal post-secondary learners - Establishing the Aboriginal Education Office in 2006 to support the learning and achievement of Aboriginal students in Ontario's public education system Land Claims Successful land claim settlements provide Aboriginal communities with opportunities for economic and community development, remove barriers to investment and foster a positive business climate for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples alike. Ontario is actively negotiating 13 land claims or land-related issues. Additionally, 56 claims are under review. Since October 2003, claims have been settled with the Lake Nipigon Ojibway, Rainy River First Nation, Tyendinaga (Turton Penn), Wahta Mohawks and Sand Point First Nation. Justice The McGuinty government is committed to providing equitable, coordinated, effective and responsive justice services to Aboriginal men, women, children and youth. Ontario has invested over $1.75 million in the last four years to support the development of victim services in Aboriginal communities. There are currently Aboriginal court workers in 45 sites throughout the province. As well, Ontario funds nine Aboriginal community justice projects that deliver restorative and traditional justice processes to their members as an alternative to the mainstream justice system in all appropriate circumstances. To help meet the needs of remote communities, the government expanded the weekend and statutory holidays courts so that detainees from fly-in communities have access to bail courts, at least for their first appearance, without having to leave their communities. The province is currently working with Aboriginal people to develop an Aboriginal Justice Strategy that will improve access to justice and address the overrepresentation of Aboriginal people in the criminal justice system as victims and offenders. Economic Development The McGuinty government has a number of initiatives that promote economic prosperity for Aboriginal people. In the resource development sector, for example, several programs consider the benefits to Aboriginal communities as part of the licensing or approval process (including the provision of employment to Aboriginal community members, the inclusion of First Nations or First Nation-controlled businesses as partners in proposals). To support Aboriginal economic development, OSAA's Aboriginal Community Capital Grants Program provides funding for the development of small business centres or multi-use community facilities in Aboriginal communities. The province has also implemented pre-apprenticeship/employment and training programs in the James Bay area (part of benefits associated with DeBeers mine at Attawapiskat) Moving Forward Together The McGuinty government is committed to Ontario's New Approach to Aboriginal Affairs and to building a stronger future to improve the well-being and prosperity of Aboriginal Communities. While there is more work to do, the Ontario government is working in partnership with Aboriginal peoples to help build this future. The Premier meets annually with First Nation leaders from across the province. This meeting sets the tone for regular meetings with First Nation organizations to work on a variety of matters of shared interest. There are also meetings that involve the province, the Chiefs of Ontario, and the federal government. The Northern Table addresses the unique challenges of achieving prosperity for First Nations in the far north. It involves several Ontario ministries, under the leadership of OSAA, and First Nations of the Nishnawbe-Aski Nation. The Premier also meets annually with the President of the Métis Nation of Ontario. Regular meetings with provincial staff follow a similar format to those with First Nation organizations and provide support for capacity development, forums for discussions of items of common concern and an entry point for discussions between the organizations and ministries of the Province. Other highlights of Ontario's New Approach include: - The release of Draft Guidelines for Ministries on Consultation with Aboriginal Peoples Related to Aboriginal and Treaty Rights help ministries meet their consultation obligations. - An ongoing relationship with the Ontario Native Women's Association, which represents Aboriginal women and their families in on and off-reserve communities and encourages involvement in socio-economic, recreational, cultural and political matters that impact their daily lives. - A strong collaboration with the Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centres, an umbrella organization for 27 Friendship Centres across the province, to provide services through many existing and new provincial programs, including Akwe:go for Aboriginal children and youth. Akwe:go helps provide supports including health resources, recreational programs and one-on-one activities, such as mentoring. Disponible en français www.aboriginalaffairs.osaa.gov.on.ca Backgrounder ------------------------------------------------------------------------- ABORIGINAL LAND CLAIMS Most Aboriginal land claim negotiations involve the federal government, which has primary responsibility for the resolution of Aboriginal land claims. Provinces may become involved in Aboriginal land claims because of provincial involvement in the historical events giving rise to the claim and because many claims involve the assertion of rights with respect to Crown lands, natural resources and private property. Generally, there are three kinds of land claims in Ontario: Treaties -------- - Usually the result of disagreements between the Crown and First Nations about the location and size of reserves that were set aside under a treaty. - They can also arise as a result of events that took place some time after treaties were negotiated and reserves were surveyed, for example, claims arising as a result of flooding of reserve land for hydroelectric power or the taking of reserve land for public purposes, i.e., the construction of highways and railways, without lawful authority or compensation. Aboriginal title ---------------- - Based on allegations that lands traditionally used and occupied by Aboriginal people were never surrendered to the Crown by Aboriginal people. A First Nation may claim that a land surrender or treaty was flawed and that the original Aboriginal interest in the land remains. Surrender for sale of reserve land ---------------------------------- - Arise when a First Nation seeks compensation for, or the return of land that it had surrendered to the Crown for sale so that the payment from the sale could be used for the benefit of the First Nation. Although such land surrenders generally occurred many years ago, the land often remains unsold and unpaid for. Federal government's responsibility for land claims In The Constitution Act, 1867 the federal government was assigned exclusive jurisdiction over "Indians and Lands reserved for the Indians," which includes the power to make treaties with Aboriginal peoples. The provinces were assigned jurisdiction over private property, and the management of Crown lands and natural resources located within a province. In many land claims both federal and provincial jurisdictions are involved. The courts have determined that the historic relationship between the federal government and Aboriginal peoples, as well as federal jurisdiction for law making in relation to Indians and Indian reserve lands, creates a special trust-like or "fiduciary" relationship with First Nations on the part of the federal government. To a large extent the federal government exercises its fiduciary responsibility for First Nations through the Indian Act. Ontario's responsibility with respect to land claims While the resolution of land claims is primarily a federal government responsibility, provincial governments often have a role because of their own involvement in the historical events giving rise to the claim. In addition, many Aboriginal land claims are based on the assertion of rights with respect to Crown lands, natural resources and private property, which lie within provincial jurisdiction or assert breaches of treaty or Aboriginal rights by the Crown. In Ontario the land base is covered by treaty agreements with First Nations. Therefore the issues in land claims in Ontario usually concern the meaning of the original treaty agreements, the extent to which treaty commitments have been honoured, and how to provide redress in cases where treaty commitments were breached. Ontario becomes involved in land claims to meet its legal obligations and because claims may affect lands owned by Ontario or lands over which Ontario has some authority. Most lands in Ontario that are affected by treaties are now public lands administered by the province. Definition of terms A list of common terms and their definitions can be found at: http://www.aboriginalaffairs.osaa.gov.on.ca/english/faq/glossary.htm. Disponible en français www.aboriginalaffairs.osaa.gov.on.ca Backgrounder ------------------------------------------------------------------------- ONTARIO'S SUPPORT FOR FIRST NATIONS POLICING First Nations Policing in Ontario In Ontario, First Nations policing is provided under the Ontario First Nations Policing Agreement, in line with the federal government's First Nations Policing Policy. Under this agreement: - 20 First Nations communities are served directly by either the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) or a municipal police service - 19 First Nations communities are served by First Nations police officers who are administered by the OPP - 95 First Nations communities are served by nine self-administered First Nations police services. Aboriginal Communities - A New Approach In June 2005, the Ontario government announced a new approach to aboriginal affairs based on a constructive, co-operative relationship with the Aboriginal Peoples of Ontario. As part of the new approach, the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services and the OPP are working to develop new initiatives and to sustain existing programs that recognize and address the diverse policing needs of both urban and rural Aboriginal communities. Supporting First Nations Police Services - In 2007-08, Ontario will contribute $23.7 million to self- administered First Nations police services. The province will also contribute approximately $3.6 million for OPP-administered First Nations police services. - Since 2003, the ministry has invested $2.3 million to improve police infrastructure in the communities of the Nishnawbe-Aski Nation. - Since 2003, $1.3 million in funding has been provided under the Community Policing Partnerships program for 14 police officers hired by First Nations police services. - First Nations police services have also hired an additional nine officers with $211,000 in funding under the government's Safer Communities - 1,000 Officers Partnership program. - Since 2003, First Nations police services have received approximately $131,000 to provide Reduced Impaired Driving Everywhere programs. - Since 2004, First Nations police services have received approximately $138,000 through the Safer and Vital Communities Grant to support crime prevention programs. - Since June 2005, the Ontario Police College has provided funding to train 88 First Nations police service recruits. OPP-Aboriginal Policing Initiatives The OPP is committed to building and maintaining strong relationships with Aboriginal leaders and communities. Established in 2004, the OPP's Aboriginal Relations Teams help the OPP communicate clearly when responding to serious incidents and disputes involving Aboriginal communities. The OPP is working hard to develop relationships with Aboriginal communities and to establish initiatives that will allow the OPP the opportunity to have constructive dialogue with all parties in a dispute by: - Establishing a new procedure for responding to critical incidents involving Aboriginal communities that encourages officers to consider a broad range of responses to critical incidents, taking into account local issues and protecting the rights of all involved parties throughout the incident - Collaborating with the Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service on a joint recruitment initiative that resulted in the selection of 30 Aboriginal recruits to support First Nations policing and increase the number of Aboriginal recruits - Hosting OPP Bound, an annual, one-week recruitment camp that allows potential recruits from Aboriginal and other under- represented communities to explore a career with the OPP. In 2005, the program attracted 95 participants, including 30 members of the Aboriginal community. - Conducting an award-winning Native Awareness course, based on strong community consultation that brings together police officers and front-line providers of service from a variety of agencies in holistic approaches to developing positive community relations. The week-long course is now mandatory for all Incident Commanders, Emergency Response Teams, Tactics and Rescue Units, Professional Standards Bureau, and in-service training personnel. Consulting Aboriginal Communities to Improve Police-Community Relations - The OPP meets regularly with leaders of Aboriginal communities to share information, build relationships and examine ways the OPP can help support and facilitate better policing to First Nations communities. In November 2006, Commissioner Julian Fantino met with the Chiefs of Ontario and all 134 First Nations Chiefs in Sault Ste. Marie to discuss how the OPP can continue to support and facilitate better policing to their communities. - In 2006, senior ministry staff took part in the Law Enforcement Aboriginal and Diversity Network conference, which was co-chaired by former OPP Commissioner, Gwen Boniface. More than 500 community members and police service employees met in Toronto to discuss cooperative solutions to challenges facing communities and police. Leaders from Aboriginal and racialized communities and law enforcement agencies addressed the gathering to discuss critical issues from poverty and racial discrimination as factors in crime to racial profiling and oppressive behaviours towards minorities. - In 2005 a Federal/Provincial/Territorial Policing Issues Working Group, composed of senior representatives from the various levels of government, was established to address policing issues across Canada. Ontario is leading the discussions on the issue of relationships between First Nations police services and other police services. Disponible en français www.mcscs.jus.gov.on.ca For further information: Media Contact: Anne-Marie Flanagan, Minister Ramsay's Office, (416) 327-0654, (416) 268-3690 (cellular); Annette Phillips, Minister Kwinter's Office, (416) 326-8265, (647) 205-6598 (cellular); Merike Nurming, Ontario Secretariat for Aboriginal Affairs, (416) 326-4079; Stuart McGetrick, Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, (416) 325-9686 HELP | CONTACT US | PRIVACY | IMPORTANT NOTICES © Queen's Printer for Ontario, 2008-2009 — Last Modified: February 15, 2009 For further information: Media Contact: Anne-Marie Flanagan, Minister Ramsay's Office, (416) 327-0654, (416) 268-3690 (cellular); Annette Phillips, Minister Kwinter's Office, (416) 326-8265, (647) 205-6598 (cellular); Merike Nurming, Ontario Secretariat for Aboriginal Affairs, (416) 326-4079; Stuart McGetrick, Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, (416) 325-9686