Open letter to Elliot Lake mayoral candidates from SRFN chief
Letters To The Editor
On behalf of Serpent River First Nation council and citizens, I send you greetings and trust that you are working diligently to win the confidence of the citizens of Elliott Lake so they will put their support behind your respective visions for Elliot Lake. We wish you both luck and commend you for your efforts to make Elliott Lake a good place to flourish and prosper.
As elected chief of the Serpent River First Nation, I know the experiences that you aspire to cultivate in leadership are those only public service brings. Regardless of our political stripes, we all serve for a similar reason – to ensure that our citizens are provided with effective representation and the highest quality of life possible.
As you know, the Serpent River First Nation is not just a neighbouring community to Elliot Lake. The region where the city is located is integral to our traditional territory and we have strong historical, geographical, harvesting, cultural and spiritual ties to Elliot Lake. Since time immemorial prior to contact, we walked these lands - the land owned our people. Today, our existing Aboriginal and treaty rights are recognized and affirmed in section 35 of Canada's constitution.
When we set our fishing nets in Elliot and Dunlop lakes on Oct. 1, 2009, we were not protesting. We wanted to show our neighbours of our rightful access and jurisdiction to Crown lands. We also know that the issue of colliding interests must be reconciled. Serpent River First Nation is now asking the question - where does the Elliot Lake leadership stand on the need for First Nation dialogue on plans to assert further access for First Nation benefit and gain?
The Supreme Court of Canada has consistently reaffirmed that both, federal and provincial governments have a legal duty to consult with us and provide accommodation regarding our Aboriginal and treaty rights. Since Elliot Lake is a creation of the province of Ontario, Elliot Lake must recognize, respect that First Nation rights and interests must be accommodated before new developments can proceed. Ontario is currently at the table - Elliot Lake leadership should now start asking questions.
Given the importance of the outcome of this election for all of us, I want to invite you both to a public town hall discussion about how you, as mayor, would like Elliot Lake to work with us - essentially to meet issues head-on with the goal of collaborative policy questions and proposed outcomes.
For example, where can a successful joint relations committee take our communities? What is your intent to ensure that Crown resources serve the economic interests of both Serpent River First Nation and the City of Elliot Lake? What might be the best options for the First Peoples of the Serpent River headlands and the City of Elliot Lake in proceeding with a broad heritage study that seeks to establish protection status of sites and routes of the original people in and around Elliot Lake? I want to discuss the City of Elliot Lake's plans regarding the cottage lot program and the potential legal challenges to the Elliot Lake Act.
In closing, I believe that it is in the best interests of both of our communities and citizens that we have a public dialogue about how we intend to move forward as friends and neighbours in a mutually beneficial, peaceful and prosperous co-existence – in the true spirit and intent of our Robinson Huron Treaty, 1850. I look forward to your timely response.
Chief of the Serpent River First Nation
Article ID# 2798304
And see ...
And see ...