Indigenous. Northern. Independent.


Winter 2024 – Anishinabek News

Ontario Regional Chief Glen Hare, Grand Council Chief Reg Niganobe, Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation Chief Donna Big Canoe, Beausoleil First Nation Chief Joanne Sandy, National Chief Cindy Woodhouse, and Chippewas of Rama First Nation Chief Ted Williams in Chippewas of Rama First Nation, February 22, 2024.

A New Year is upon us and as we start to experience the thaw of the colder season and welcome the impending longer days, we are beginning to prepare for an exciting and eventful spring. Despite a shorter season, there have been some notable events and important meetings over the past few months and the Executive remains steadfast in its advocacy efforts.

Before we embarked on the holiday season, the executive supported Anishinabek leadership and regional lobbying efforts in Ottawa during the second week of December. Along with Chiefs of Ontario delegates and members of the leadership council, we met with a few federal representatives including Member of Parliament Daniel Blaikie, Shadow Minister Bob Zimmer, Member of Parliament Adam Chambers, and Member of Parliament Marcus Powlowski. Top regional priorities were discussed and we were able to iterate our continued opposition to Bill C-53 and other critical legislation that is impacting First Nations across the province.

During the same week, members of the Executive attended the Assembly of First Nations Special Chiefs Assembly and witnessed the National Chief Election where Cindy Woodhouse was elected for a three-and-a-half-year term. We send our best wishes to Cindy in her new role and look forward to working with her in our collective advocacy efforts over the coming months.

The following week, members of the Executive headed to Thunder Bay to participate in an Indigenous Leadership Forum with the Thunder Bay Police Services (TBPS). While vital messaging was conveyed over the course of the forum, the Executive looks forward to more meaningful engagement with the TBPS in the future. It is our wish and the wish of many First Nations peoples living in the area, to see positive outcomes and tangible solutions to the historic problems that continue to plague the TBPS and the Indigenous population of the city and surrounding area. More recently, Grand Council Chief Reg Niganobe met with the Special Investigations Unit regarding a high-profile case and subsequently met with members of the TBPS Board along with Northern Superior Regional Deputy Grand Council Chief Mel Hardy to talk about how improvements are necessary.

Just before the holiday shutdown, we had an opportunity to meet with the Anishinabek Nation commissioners and Nation Council. Our newly mandated 2SLGBTQQIA+ and Niniwag Advisory Councils have provided enriching contributions to our meetings. There continue to be some vacancies on these new committees and we will be putting effort into recruitment over the coming months.

The same week, we also met with Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Gary Anandasangaree and where we once again reiterated our opposition to Bill C-53 and provided context of the history of the Anishinabek. It continues to be a contentious issue for all First Nations in Ontario and specifically for Anishinabek where we believe there are some misconceptions surrounding identity and citizenship that are exacerbating this issue. As the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) continues to advance its agenda, we continue to strongly oppose the government’s actions and ignorance of our inherent rights and jurisdiction.

Early in the New Year, Grand Council Chief Reg Niganobe also met with former Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief John Beaucage to clarify a recent meeting with the MNO that was publicized through social media. It was an opportunity to share information and gain perspective on the political landscape and relationship-building efforts that took place at the time of John’s leadership. While there were some friendly relationship-building efforts made during his tenure, those activities have long come to an end. Leadership over the years have made their voices clear about the MNO’s harmful approaches that infringe on First Nations rights; maintaining our sovereignty and jurisdiction remains at the forefront of our advocacy.

The last week of January was full of activity with several important initiatives and engagement efforts across sectors. Most notably, members of the Executive, along with a number of Chiefs, participated in an expert panel on the legislative review of the Cannabis Act. Leaders were able to talk about community priorities regarding cannabis including, jurisdiction and public safety, economic development, banking, taxation and revenue sharing, public health, and harm reduction. Later in the week, senior health officials met in Toronto to discuss the Health Transformation efforts of the Anishinabek Nation and support for the feasibility as we explore health authority models and how they can benefit our communities.

We ended the week with a riveting webinar with special guests from Grand Council Treaty #3 who talked about how their governance approach is entrenched in concepts of nationhood and traditional principles of the Anishinaabe. We are inspired by the work that Grand Council Treaty #3 does on behalf of their citizens, and we look forward to more nation-building efforts in the near future.

Notable Meetings:

  • Dec 20: Minister Gary Anandasangaree
  • Jan 18: Special Investigations Unit
  • Jan 22: Expert Panel on Cannabis
  • Jan 23: Ministry of Health Senior Health Officials Meeting
  • Jan 25: Governance Webinar with Grand Council Treaty 3: Manitou Aki Toolkit
  • Feb 5: Trauma-informed training
  • Feb 7: Child Well-being Working Group
  • Feb 9: Thunder Bay Police Service Board Co-chair meeting
  • Feb 12: Online News Act Meeting with Ministry of Canadian Heritage
  • Feb 13-15: 8th Annual Lands and Resources Forum
  • Feb 15: Chiefs Council on Governance
  • February 22: Nation Council and Commissioners Meeting
  • Feb 22: Standing Committee on Justice Policy (Ontario) – Bill 157

Upcoming Meetings:

  • Regional meetings in April
  • Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Assembly June 4-5
  • Anishinaabe Giizhigad on June 6

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