National Aboriginal Day: a time for thanks and recognition

Statement from GPO leader Mike Schreiner

Today, June 21, is National Aboriginal Day.  The Green Party of Ontario offers a sincere thank you to First Nations for your contributions to our communities, province and country.

I’m inspired by the leadership of First Nations in protecting and celebrating our water, land, natural and cultural heritage.

First Nations in Ontario are leading the way on many important issues.  For example, last week the First Nations community of M’Chigeeng on Manitoulin Island became the first Aboriginal community to own 100% of a wind project in the country.  GPO members have had the privilege of working with First Nations on important issues such as Dump Site 41, the mega quarry proposed in Melanthon Township and job creation through First Nations training and entrepreneurship.  

It is particularly important this year, the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, to recognize and honour the essential role First Nations played in the founding of Canada.

Since 1996, National Aboriginal Day is a day to recognize and celebrate the contributions of the First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples of Canada.

Today is also a day to acknowledge that we have much work to do.  With the appalling conditions on many First Nation reserves, today is a time to commit to improving water and housing quality, investing in education and job training, and working to settle land claims.

There are many land use and development issues on the table in Ontario, particularly in the North.  Today is a time to commit to moving beyond consultation to full partnership, participation and respect in making decisions that affect Aboriginal communities.