Chiefs of Ontario Annual Assembly: Minister met with scorn after touting government accomplishments

By Sam Laskaris

Writer

TORONTO, ONT-Wilfred King said he was going to rain on Patty Hajdu’s parade.

Chief Wilfred King Gull Bay First Nation

And the chief of the Gull Bay First Nation in northern Ontario did just that on Wednesday.

Hajdu, the Minister of Indigenous Services, virtually attended the Chiefs of Ontario Annual Chiefs Assembly to provide an update on various Indigenous issues the federal government has been working on.

Hajdu then took a handful of questions from assembly delegates.

When it was his turn with the mic, King immediately voiced his displeasure with Hajdu and her colleagues regarding a land-based claim.

After getting in touch, King said Hajdu wrote him back telling the chief she didn’t have time to meet with him. King added he has not received responses to letters sent to other federal politicians.

King said he was told by government negotiators that after the September 2021 federal election that a mandate from cabinet would be sought to move the matter forward and get it resolved.

“It’s been nine months since the election and yet there’s no movement on your part or the part of the Liberals government,” King said to

Patty Hajdu

Hajdu. “I’m very disappointed and very disturbed that the fact that you represent a lot of First Nations in your riding and a lot of First Nations supported you and your Liberal government in getting elected.

“And for you to ignore communities in your own riding, is it because you got in for a second term and you’re no longer concerned about a re-election?”

King added he was disappointed with the current federal government.

“In fact, it’s quite disturbing and it’s a shame that your government continually ignores valid land claims across our region,” he said. “And I’m not happy right now. I’m very disappointed. And for you to come here and boast about all the good things you’re doing, I don’t think so. And I hope you take this message back to your cabinet that this is wrong what you’re doing. It’s shameful on your part as a minister.”

King added he’s disappointed how long the process is taking.

“We’ve been waiting on this mandate for nine months,” he said. “And we don’t know when this mandate is going to happen. But yet we’ve come to the table in good faith to get this resolved.”

Hajdu did respond to King’s concerns.

“I understand the frustrations,” she said. “These are negotiations that are complex and have been ongoing and are very lengthy. And I’m really hopeful that we’ll be able to have a negotiation mandate to continue very soon. So, I would stay tuned.”

Duke Peltier, the Chief of WiikwemkoongUnceded Territory on Manitoulin Island, said he was speaking on behalf of the Chiefs of Ontario in requesting the minister to amend the federal Day School settlement claims process.

“The process hasn’t been very supportive to many of the survivors,” Peltier said. “Many of them feel they are being retraumatized as part of the application process. And many of them have not been getting compensation that they deserve.”

Hajdu said she will relay Peltier’s message to Marc Miller, the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations but that he was already aware of the concerns and that he was looking into options.

“It is disturbing to hear that survivors are not being treated through a trauma-informed lens,” Hajdu added.

The Annual Chiefs Assembly began on Monday and continues until today (Thursday) in Toronto.

An in-person event is being staged though others are able to attend remotely.

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