An update: Touching base with Elected Chief Ava Hill

OHSWEKEN — This week we caught up with Elected Chief Ava Hill who has been collecting a lot of air miles in recent weeks, to find out what irons are in the fire at a provincial, federal and local levels.

TRT: How do you feel about the proposed talks towards a certain unification effort between the SNEC and the HCCC. How do you feel about the first steps towards that end?

Hill: I am optimistic about having a meeting between the Traditional and Elected government.  Since I have been Chief, the Elected Council has invited the HCCC to meet with us on various occasions and our door has always remained open for a meeting.  I am glad that they have now agreed to meet on issues that we think we can mutually work on that will benefit our whole community.  No date has been set yet but we look forward to the meeting taking place as soon as possible.  It is more important than ever that we sit down together now to have our own discussions on the proposed Federal Rights Recognition Framework.

TRT: Will there be anyone farming of Burtch land this year?

Hill: Further to the mediation agreement that was made between SNEC and the HCCC, it was agreed that the tiling would be done at Burtch this year.  The person to do the tiling is to be approved by both parties.  It is expected that this will take place as soon as a suitable contractor can be found.

TRT: Are the finer details of the Brantford Casino deal going to be made public?

Hill: I am waiting to hear back from Matt Jamieson on the details of Casino Deal that can be made public.  As soon as I hear back from him, I will let you know. (No answer as of deadline)

TRT: You have been pretty busy lately. What have you been doing?

Hill: You are right in that I have been very busy.  I always include information about the work I have been doing off reserve when I do my monthly radio updates and YouTube interviews to the community.

In February and March, there were a series of meetings happening, which seems to take place towards the end of every fiscal year.

In February, AFN held a Health Transformation Meeting. The Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation also held a IndigenousWomen’s Leadership Meeting and Six Nations also attended the Good Roads Convention and the Chiefs of Ontario Health Conference at the end of February. In March, I did manage to finally take a much needed vacation and at the end of March I attended a meeting that was organized by the Chiefs of Ontario for Women Chiefs.  Women leaders from both the Federal and Provincial Government were also invited to this meeting to take about Women in Leadership Roles.

From there, I travelled to the Commonwealth Games at the invitation of Canada Commonwealth Games, who cost shared the expenses. We were invited to take part in the Indigenous Peoples Welcoming Ceremony and also had meetings with the CEO of the International Commonwealth Federation to talk about further work and a possible Declaration on Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples through Sports. This is quite exciting if we can get an International Declaration in this regard, especially if Six Nations can play a lead role in that.

For the month of April, there has been another flurry of Chiefs Meetings. The Chiefs of Ontario held a Special Assembly during the week of April 16. This was the same time as the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, which I attended for one day. As you know, we have been participating in the UN Forum for several years now and we attended to maintain our connections, establish new connections and to also bring our land rights issues to the attention of the international community. This year’s Forum was the largest ever with over 1,000 delegates, which included several individuals from Canada.

The Special Assembly spent an entire day focussing on the structure of the Chiefs of Ontario Office Secretariat and the role of the Political Confederacy, the Board and the Ontario Regional Chief. A consultant had been hired to do a report, but up to this point has just reviewed past studies. The Chiefs passed a resolution for her to continue her work and to present an interim report at the upcoming All Ontario Chiefs Conference in June. There was also discussion on the funding that Indigenous Services provides to Ontario and it was pointed out that Ontario is not getting their fair share. This was a lead into a Joint Gathering that Indigenous Services would be holding on May 3 and 4. There was also a brief presentation on the Federal Rights Recognition Framework and a presentation by Minister David Zimmer about the work that MIRR has been doing for the past few years. There was also brief discussion on possible strategies leading up to the Provincial election.

On May 1 and 2, the AFN called a Special Assembly to allow the Chiefs to begin discussions on the Federal Rights Recognition Framework. Minister Bennet and Prime Minister Trudeau both spoke at this Assembly. Minister Bennett assured the Chiefs that no legislation has yet been written and that if and when it is, it will be opt in. There were many questions and concerns put forth and discussions will continue on this whole issue over the summer and into next year. The Federal Government has said that they want legislation passed by October 2019, which coincides with the next Federal election.

On May 3 and 4, Indigenous Services hosted a Joint Gathering in Toronto. The purpose was for Indigenous Services staff to report to the Chiefs on the work that they do for the First Nations in Ontario. Minister Jane Philpott also spoke and expressed a willingness to work with the Chiefs to improve the quality of service that is provided by her Department. We also talked about how we can work jointly with the Indigenous Services Regional Office and advocate in Ottawa together to get our fair share of funding for the Ontario Region. My next CKRZ update will be this Friday, May 11.

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