Open Letter to Ontario Premier Doug Ford
THUNDER BAY, ON: Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler has issued an open letter to Ontario Premier Doug Ford on the eve of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation:
Dear Premier Ford,
Tomorrow is Orange Shirt Day, when we walk in honour of the children who survived the Indian Residential School System, those who never made it home, and those who are still missing. Now recognized as National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, it is an important part of Ontario’s journey of healing and reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.
If that sounds familiar, it’s because you said it last year.
In fact, on past Orange Shirt Days you expressed the need to ‘listen to Indigenous voices and ensure that they are heard loudly and clearly’ and to seize the ‘opportunity to reflect and strengthen our relationships with Indigenous Peoples.’
These are noble sentiments from our provincial Treaty partner. It is most unfortunate however, that your recent actions have not matched your words.
Instead of considering our shared interests and what should be a thriving relationship, this week you insulted leaders of the First Nations Land Defence Alliance by refusing to meet with them about legitimate concerns over mining activity threatening their traditional territories. Likewise, your government’s decision to revoke First Nations’ access to government through Chiefs of Ontario’s standing meetings with you, after being rightfully questioned about certain decisions that directly affect us, show me that you are more interested in continuing the agenda of your paternalistic predecessors instead of sitting with us and considering the needs and vision of all people in Ontario.
It is with this in mind that I remind you that our ancestors are the original inhabitants of these lands and made Treaty with the Crown, as represented by Ontario and Canada, to share and prosper as partners. The atrocities inflicted on our people are too numerous to mention here, but the orange shirt you will no doubt be wearing tomorrow is a reminder of the abhorrent, disrespectful, and colonial treatment that our First Nations have suffered and continue to endure.
Tomorrow is a time for sombre reflection on unjust actions callously perpetrated on First Nations. It is also a time to consider that with your government’s true respect and cooperation, we can lead the way together. Please put aside the cronyism and speak meaningfully with our people.
We are ready. Are you?
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