RESPONSE FROM MISSANABIE CREE FIRST NATION CHIEF REGARDING NATIONAL POST COLUMN
GARDEN RIVER, ON - Regarding an article published in the National Post January 8, 2013 where Glenn Nolan, a former Chief of the Missanabie Cree First Nation made comments regarding key First Nations issues and resource revenue sharing, current Chief Kim Rainville issues the following statement:
Let it be known that the support from the Missanabie Cree First Nation council and community have been instrumental in Mr. Nolan achieving his professional goals. Being the president of the Prospector’s and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) as well as an executive of a junior mining company embroiled in the Ring of Fire development, it would make it very difficult for Mr. Nolan to express support for such a significant movement as “Idle No More”. Mr. Nolan’s opinions do not reflect the belief of the Missanabie Cree First Nation regarding the actions taken by Attawapiskat’s Chief Spence or support of the Idle No More movement.
“I believe the agenda of the government smearing a courageous leader such as Chief Spence is reprehensible,” said Chief Kim Rainville. “To have it seemingly come from a former Chief undermines the changes which are being called for by the “Idle No More” movement and a denial of the realities faced by many first Nations citizens.”
The list of issues is long; inadequate housing, health care, education economic opportunities, youth suicide, family violence, policing and the list goes on. These are immediate issues which need to be addressed. Recognition of First Nation autonomy, sovereignty, changes to the Indian Act driven by a First Nations process are paramount to achieving our rightful place in society, resource revenue sharing but a component of righting the many injustices.
As Chief, Mr. Nolan worked very hard for our First Nation was very aggressive in his efforts to achieve economic development, focused on fiscal responsibility as well as over seen Treaty Land Entitlement negotiations with the Federal Government. I recall his message to the mining industry was of First Nation inclusion to meaningful opportunity as well as an interest in the profits generated by mining. When suggested mining had a small foot print compared to forestry, he spoke to the huge environmental impact and implications suggesting the foot print of mining were in fact larger.
To qualify the Missanabie Cree a reserveless Treaty 9 First Nation, have been sheltered from the bread and butter issues faced by many First Nations; I believe, largely due to a disconnect with our lands and community for many years; it could be said the Federal Government achieved their goal of assimilating our people. Loss of language, culture and a connection to our land should have been the end of the Missanabie Cree. However the policies of assimilation failed to eliminate our very spirit, pride in our heritage and desire to regain our identity. I believe this is true for many Missanabie Cree FN citizens. Unless we have or are prepared to walk in the moccasins of those communities who are suffering I don’t believe the position Mr. Nolan takes in his interview is something he can claim to have the insights he has inferred.
In closing, there is a huge disparity between the remote and isolated First Nations, southern First Nations, as well as urban Aboriginals’ who have access to services, programs and opportunities which are not available to our sister communities in the North. I don’t for a moment believe Chief Spence is blaming or pointing fingers at anyone, she is simply trying to address the dire circumstances which many of our brothers and sisters have faced daily for many years. Let us remember the love and actions of a Grand Mother have led to meetings between First Nations leaders, the Prime Minister and Governor General. Time for change.
National Post article:
Missanabie Cree First Nation is a distinct group of the Mushkegowuk Cree and our traditional territory is centred in and around Missinaibi Lake, Dog Lake, and Wabatongushi Lake in northern Ontario. The Missanabie Cree have used and occupied the lands and rich resources in this area from time immemorial to the present to hunt, fish, trap, and harvest to provide for the cultural, spiritual and economic well-being of our people. The Missanabie Cree First Nation has been recognized as a band by the federal government since 1951. By the early 1990s, members began to come together and, in 1992, we elected our first Chief and Council under the Indian Act. The Missanabie Cree First Nation continues to work toward our shared vision to ensure the well-being of our families and community.