First Nations should be consulted for new Official Plan

To the Expositor:

With regards to the February 8 page 1 article ‘Manitoulin Official Plan review seeks citizens for two-year task,’ the statement, “First Nation communities are not covered by the Official Plan.” I suggest that, in one way or another, the plan does, in fact, impact First Nations simply by the use of the term “Official Plan,” and thereby government overseers could be influenced by this Official Plan.

In the 1990s, as chief of the Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve First Nation, we had reason to request a visit by a representative(s) of those speaking to the new proposed boundaries of the Town of Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands (NEMI). John Hodder, the then-mayor of Little Current, and Ken Ferguson, -then-reeve of Howland Township, both honourable gentlemen, did in fact came to visit. After much discussion it was stated that the new boundaries being proposed for the amalgamated municipality of NEMI, would not adversely affect Wikwemikong. As Wikwemikong has progressed with its claim, this assurance still seems to be unclear since Ministry of Natural Resources developments continue to have to be scrutinized.

The 1990 claim relating to shoreline allowances is another example still not clearly settled that affects Wikwemikong from the standpoint of Wikwemikong’s unceded status going back to 1862 and by virtue of its existence long before 1836 and the effect of that exercise and a “without prejudice” position relating to Manitoulin. I share the municipal representatives’ concerns of wishing to be at the table (for the ongoing discussions of the fine tuning of the 1990 claim) even though they are represented by their Ontario government representatives.

It is common knowledge, or should be, that First Nations must be afforded a process to be consulted and accommodated in all respects of any development that may impact their current or future development and status.

It would be neighbourly for the Official Plan proponents to share their terms of reference and share information with area First Nations components of what is being considered in order that future “Without Prejudice” issues would not be, as previously mentioned, adversely affected.

Miigwetch.

Eugene Manitowabi

Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve