Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Responds to the Speech from the Throne
November 16, 2022
Treaty One Territory, Manitoba
TREATY ONE TERRITORY, MB – The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) and the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Manitoba issue this statement in response to yesterday’s Speech from the Throne, which Premier Heather Stefanson drafted for Lieutenant Governor Anita Neville to read aloud.
“First of all, I would like to congratulate Lieutenant Governor Anita Neville on her first Speech from the Throne as the 26th Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba, and we wish her a lot of success in her new position,” said Grand Chief Merrick. “The government has demonstrated that they are listening to our concerns and sharing our priorities. With the announcement that they will work with us on solutions based on First Nation knowledge and history, true reconciliation can finally be achieved. The government also promised to implement a homelessness strategy this winter, which secures the resources to keep N’dinawemak’s doors open. The AMC appreciates Manitoba’s first-ever homelessness strategy that announced funding of $1.7 Million for the N’dinawek 24/7 warming shelter that many of our First Nation relatives utilize. As the cold weather escalates into freezing conditions, we will continue to work with Manitoba, the private sector, and other First Nation and Indigenous partners to address this critical issue that the pandemic has exacerbated.”
Secondly, Grand Chief Merrick noted that the province made some concerning announcements that must require consultation with First Nations, saying, “The province of Manitoba intends to hire more conservation officers to combat dangerous activities like poaching and night hunting. We wish to avoid an increase in the punishment of First Nations hunters by Manitoba conservation officers. The disregard for Treaty rights is a long-standing issue, as First Nations exercise their right to hunt to support their families, Elders, and communities. We urge Manitoba to meet with First Nations leadership immediately and discuss options for respecting Treaty rights, including the Crown’s duty to consult with First Nations, and developing a joint plan for conserving and managing our shared wildlife resources. Any proposed amendments to provincial laws that affect our rights without consultation with First Nations rights holders are a derogation of Treaty rights and constitute a breach of the duty to consult. It is noted that Peguis First Nation has already launched a lawsuit against Manitoba because amendments to the Wildlife Act concerning night hunting infringe on our Treaty rights. My office and the AMC Secretariat remain willing to assist the province of Manitoba in coordinating meetings with First Nations rights holders on any proposed amendments to the Wildlife Act on poaching and night hunting.”
Thirdly, with the announcement of intensive bail supervision and high-risk warrant supervision, Grand Chief Merrick said, “We need Manitoba to put the idea of essential renewed partnerships into action so that they can invest effectively in these types of justice initiatives. By only funding the police services, they will not address the root causes of crime throughout the province.”
Lastly, the Premier announced a multi-year health human resource action plan that will focus on training, recruitment, and retention of healthcare professionals, as well as reducing surgical wait times and building new hospitals for Neepawa and Portage La Prairie. That is in addition to other healthcare facility enhancement projects in Brandon, Steinbach, Dauphin, Selkirk, Ashern, and Winkler. Grand Chief Merrick commented, “We need Manitoba to make these investments not just in the south of Manitoba, where many of their voters reside but also in the north. The population of the Island Lake area is over 15,000 people, and there is no hospital. People are transported out daily for medical care, requiring long-distance travel and overnight accommodations for any form of care. The province of Manitoba continues to ask for more federal health dollars, but First Nations are the last to receive them. First Nations in Manitoba must be part of the federal spending discussions in all areas including health, since this region has the most First Nations/Indigenous people per capita. If Manitoba plans to invest in health care, we welcome the chance to address the suicide crisis. The provincial strategy must focus on First Nations youth and Indigenous communities to prevent the loss of any more children and youth. We must strengthen collaborative efforts with First Nations leadership to ensure this does not happen again.”
“The Premier has made numerous and specific funding announcements because there will be an election in less than a year. Investments must be made to change what happens on the ground for Manitobans. The government of Manitoba must have a co-developed vision with various partners such as the AFN and AMC. First Nations leadership will then work with various Ministers to ensure that real substantive change occurs in this province due to these newly announced resources.” concluded Grand Chief Merrick, “We will hold the Premier and her Cabinet accountable and look forward to working together to create a better province for all First Nations and Manitobans.”
For more information, please contact:
Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs
About the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs
The AMC was formed in 1988 by the Chiefs in Manitoba to advocate on issues that commonly affect First Nations in Manitoba. AMC is an authorized representative of 62 of the 63 First Nations in Manitoba with a total of more than 151,000 First Nation citizens in the province, accounting for approximately 12 percent of the provincial population. AMC represents a diversity of Anishinaabe (Ojibway), Nehetho / Ininew (Cree), Anishininew (Ojibwe-Cree), Denesuline (Dene) and Dakota Oyate (Dakota) people.