Agreements seen as reconciliation: Ontario chiefs, ministry discuss experiences negotiating revenue-sharing agreements.

Author:McKinley, Karen
Position:NEWS
 
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Several Ontario Indigenous chiefs and executives say revenue-sharing agreements will be good for all communities in Northern Ontario because the First Nations are major supporters of businesses in the region.

Revenue-sharing agreements have taken a more significant role in recent years as mining and forestry companies seek to harvest resources from Indigenous lands.

It was a hot topic at the 2019 Prospectors and Developers Association (PDAC) annual convention in Toronto. Several panels were dedicated to discussing personal experiences, legal frameworks and the benefits and challenges associated with them.

One held on March 5 looked specifically at the work done between Indigenous communities in Northern Ontario to ensure fair agreements between communities and the government.

The panel included Jason Batise, executive director of the Wabun Tribal Council; Craig Brown, acting assistant deputy minister in the policy division of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry; Jason Gauthier, chief of the Missanabie Cree First Nation; and Francis Kavanaugh, Ogichidaa (Grand Chief) of the Anishinaabe Nation in Treaty 3.

Grand Chief Kavanaugh said he viewed resource sharing as the actualization of the Great Earth Law, and their system of government is organized to promote sound business practices.

"We live in a land rich with natural resources in Northern Ontario. A lot of the resources are extracted that are ones that operate the governments in Ontario. So in terms of our council, we are a modern-day corporate entity."

He explained Treaty No. 3 includes a council of 28 chiefs from two provinces--Ontario and Manitoba.

In all, there are three resource revenue sharing agreements with Wabun, Treaty 3, and Mushkegowuk, totalling 32 First Nations.

He pointed to how Indigenous communities support the economy of northwestern Ontario and how they used it as part of the bargaining process. When the Trans-Canada Highway bypass was completed 35 years ago, there was much speculation that cutting Kenora off from the main highway would mean the city would become a ghost town.

Kavanaugh said he reminded officials that there are 10 First Nations near the city.

Every week there were waves of people coming to the city to do business and run errands due to it being a major service centre for the region.

"This is money businesses used to restock, pay bills, staff," he said. "They are a driving force."

They still continue to support the city, as the lumber mill...

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