Chiefs of Ontario to elect new regional chief

The Chiefs of Ontario advocacy group will elect a new provincial chief this week as First Nations across Ontario meet at the Six Nations Sports and Cultural Memorial until Thursday for their annual chiefs assembly.

The theme of this year’s Annual Chiefs’ Assembly (ACA) is “Coming Together: Advocating for First Nations Sovereignty.”

The three-day assembly will centre around the election for a new Ontario Regional Chief on Wednesday, to replace outgoing Chief Glen Hare.

Gordon “Chop” Waindubence and Gary Dokis will oversee the election. 

Among the candidates are Grassy Narrows Chief Rudy Turtle, a founding member of the First Nations Land Defence Alliance, which seeks to protect Northern Ontario’s coveted “Ring of Fire” region from mining without consultation.

Turtle says Grassy Narrows has been a victim of mercury poisoning from ongoing industrial activity dating back to the 60s and 70s.

Abram Benedict, Akwesasne Grand Chief, is also seeking the regional chief position.

Each of Ontario’s 133 First Nations get a vote in this week’s election.

Ballots are cast until the successful candidate has the majority of votes from chiefs/proxies present.

Six Nations of the Grand River Elected Chief Sherri-lyn Hill welcomed “our brothers and sisters” to Six Nations yesterday (Tuesday).

“We all have a lot of work ahead of us to ensure the faces yet to come will be able to speak our languages. When we come together, land also unites us. As we all know, land is a gift. It is to be protected and cared for. It nourishes and sustains us. When we come together, we are also united by our uniqueness.”

She said their concerns are similar but unique.

“No government can tell us differently. When we come together, we share purposes: to advocate for sovereignty, to advocate for our collective inherent rights and to advocate for our people and communities.”

Chief Hill encouraged all at the meeting to “come together in unity. Let’s continue to challenge governments and the status quo.”

This week’s ACA will also include updates on a variety of issues and priorities for First Nations in Ontario, including health, rights assertions, First Nations laws and by-laws, child and family Services, mining, duty to consult, economic development, and more.

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