FIRST NATIONS IN ONTARIO CONTINUE TO OPPOSE THE CANADA-CHINA FOREIGN INVESTMENT PROMOTION AND PROTECTION AGREEMENT (FIPPA)
Vancouver, BC (February 20, 2013) Today, Chief Isadore Day, Wiindawtegowinini, of the Serpent River First Nation in Ontario and Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy stood in solidarity with the Hupacasath First Nation and Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs as they discuss their Federal Court application calling for the suspension of the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPPA). Chief Day has provided affidavit in support of this application.
Both Day and Beardy have been vocal in opposing the Canada-China FIPPA since October 31, 2012 saying that it is inconsistent with the international Treaties already made between First Nations and the Crown and in breach of the fiduciary obligation to consult and accommodate First Nations in accordance with Canadian law, amongst other reasons. The FIPPA was also condemned by 133 First Nations in Ontario as an “unlawful violation of the sacred and sovereign Treaties.” While Day and Beardy have written letters to leaders of both Canada and China over three months ago—they have not received acceptable responses.
First Nations and China share a history of brutal colonial exploitation at the hands of European imperial powers. The recent rise of China to the status of the second largest economy in the world is greatly admired. Many First Nation governments and enterprises have ongoing business relationships with Chinese counterparts, which are certain to expand in the future. However, First Nations are opposed to the unilateral imposition the FIPPA for reasons stated.
Beardy stated, “Instead of fostering trade and investment, this FIPPA will only serve to increase tension and conflict on the ground. All lands, waters, and other resources in Ontario are subject to international Treaties between First Nations and the Crown. They are premised on the sovereignty of First Nations and, among other things, they guarantee equitable sharing of lands, waters, and all other resources. The open-ended investment preferences and other protections in favour of China contained in the FIPPA are certain to lead to conflicts with First Nation governments. This will occur in key sectors such as mining, forestry, and hydro electric development.”
In addition, Day stated: “It is most regrettable that it has proven necessary to take the FIPPA issue to the Canadian domestic court system. This issue, like other significant bilateral issues, should be negotiated between First Nations and Canada based on the sovereign Treaties. But, the intransigence of Canada has left us no choice.” In spite of everything, First Nations in Ontario are hopeful that the issue can be negotiated in good faith among Treaty partners, even if a court order is necessary to get Canada to the table.
The Chiefs of Ontario is a political forum, and a secretariat for collective decision making, action, and advocacy for the 133 First Nation communities located within the boundaries of the province of Ontario, Canada. Serpent River is an Anishinabe First Nation and signatory to the Robinson Huron Treaty of 1850. It is located approximately midway between the Ontario cities of Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury, along the North Channel of Lake Huron.