NEWS RELEASE · 21st January 2013
Chiefs of Ontario
On January 18, 2013, Serpent River First Nation Chief Isadore Day (Wiindawtegowinni), along with the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, filed an affidavit in support of the Hupacasath First Nation’s Federal Court application for interim relief to prohibit Canada from notifying China that they have completed the internal legal procedures for the entry of the FIPPA into force.
Chief Day filed the affidavit also on behalf of First Nations in Ontario, which in November 2012, passed a resolution rejecting the FIPPA citing it as an unlawful violation of the sacred and sovereign Treaties between First Nations and the Crown.
The affidavit stated that Serpent River First Nation and First Nations in Ontario have reasonable grounds to believe that the FIPPA, if ratified and implemented, will have serious negative effects on First Nations’ Treaty and other rights.
It expressed support for Hupacasath First Nation’s motion that Canada suspend all efforts to ratify the FIPPA and enter into an open-ended dialogue with First Nations focused on a new and acceptable investment and/or trade agreement.
Some specific concerns with the FIPPA brought forth by Chief Day in the affidavit included, but were not limited to:
Canada made no reasonable efforts to consult and accommodate First Nations in accordance with their constitutional fiduciary obligations;
- the arbitration mechanism in the FIPPA may lead to significant financial awards to Chinese investors which may discourage the federal government from engaging First Nations in implementation discussions on the sharing of lands and resources, pursuant to Treaty and other rights;
- it may prevent and/or inhibit First Nations’ efforts to democratically oppose certain kinds of resource and other development projects, whether based on rights or environmental concerns;
- it may facilitate, promote, and fast-track Chinese resource development projects in First Nations’ territories, regardless of the effect on First Nations’ rights and environmental concerns;
- it may prevent First Nations from participating in dispute resolution that directly impacts on First Nations’ rights because it provides for a secretive binding arbitration process, outside the Canadian court system;
- investors with rights and privileges pursuant to this FIPAA may take the position that they are entitled to equal and/or protected access to on-reserve development opportunities;
- First Nations’ right to free, prior and informed consent is directly threatened by the rights and privileges afforded private interests under this FIPPA;
- it does not explicitly acknowledge First Nations’ rights and authorities and investors may rely on it and take the position that no account needs to be taken of First Nations rights and authorities which may lead to conflict, uncertainty and liability;
- First Nations’ environmental protocols and laws are above and beyond Canadian law and that contrary to the impression created by the FIPPA, Chinese investors will not be in compliance if they look only to Canadian environmental law.
The decision of Hupacasath First Nation to file this injunction application comes in the wake of notice provided to the Office of the Privy Council on December 18, 2012 stipulating that if Canada did not provide an immediate assurance that consultation with First Nations will occur prior to ratification of this FIPPA, that a court application and motion would be brought forward, seeking declaratory and other relief.
Canada did not provide this assurance.
“In the wake of the #IdleNoMore movement taking place throughout the world, I am particularly pleased that we are able to undertake a specific action to uphold First Nations’ Treaty rights” stated Chief Day.
Trade and economic relationships in Canada are overseen by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada. Since 1993, twenty-four (24) FIPAs have been put into force mostly with developing countries where Canadian mining and energy firms want to establish or expand projects. Canada is in ongoing negotiations with 14 other countries.
“While Prime Minister Harper and Minister Baird may espouse the benefits of FIPPAs to provinces in Canada, First Nations have received no such benefits and it’s no wonder if we are shut out of the process” stated Day.
Further to this, Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy stated, “Canada’s trade policy and economic relationships with other countries throughout the world are devoid of rightful First Nations involvement—we will be working to change this.
Our position on the Canada/China FIPPA will be the same for all other FIPPAs and similar agreements Canada negotiates in our absence.”
The Chiefs of Ontario is a political forum, and a secretariat for collective decision making, action, and advocacy for 133 First Nation communities located within the boundaries of the province of Ontario.
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.
Comment by Mission Teacher on 23rd January 2013
Thank you for your action. This sell out of First Nations and all Canadians must end!