To the Editor:
Over these many years, there has been no or very little reporting by Wawatay News on the abrogation of our treaty rights by our own leaders and their staff. It is not only Canada and Ontario who are destroying our treaty rights and by extension, our Aboriginal rights.
To point to our own leaders as one source of our continuing problems seems to be a no-no and when somebody makes their stand there is total silence to the issue which has been raised or self-righteous indignation from our leaders.
However, nobody has the right to abrogate our treaty rights and we need, to show, for the historical record, that not all our people support these initiatives. I, for one, do not support the abrogation of our treaty rights.
The Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Sciences Centre will have its grand opening Oct. 15 and on that day, many people – chiefs, board of directors for Sioux Lookout First Nation Health Authority, SLFNHA staff, Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief, Indian board members for Meno Ya Win hospital – will be celebrating along with the non-Native people.
It is good to celebrate the grand opening of Meno Ya Win but what has been lost?
I will provide this statement from the April 16, 1999 legal analysis which was provided to Windigo Tribal Council.
“The First Nation people should consider building their ‘own’ hospital and charge the surrounding communities for using the hospital. At least, the First Nation people would ‘retain’ their treaty right to health care and have control over the hospital.”
When Meno Ya Win has its grand opening, the following would be correct to state:
• Indigenous people will not ‘own’ Meno Ya Win as it is a corporation established under Ontario’s Hospital Act;
• Through this process, it appears our collective leadership have again ‘lost’ one of the treaty rights of our people and in this case – our treaty tight to our own hospital; and
• Indigenous people ‘do not’ control Meno Ya Win hospital.
Treaty right to health is not the foundation for both the four-party agreement and the bilateral agreement which have led to the Menoyawin Hospital. Our First Nations are not signatories to these agreements as NAN signed on our behalf. However, NAN did not sign Treaty 9 and does not have the treaty right to health.
Also, Ontario and the Town of Sioux Lookout have nothing to do with Treaty 9. Some of us raised this issue in 1995 but our concerns were ignored.
What will happen if I challenge this Meno Ya Win with the lack of services?
They will simply say ‘you, as an Indigenous person, are not party to these agreements.’
Further, Ontario and the Town of Sioux Lookout can say this is not a treaty right to health issue. There goes our treaty right to health courtesy of our leaders.
We cannot turn to the Indian representativess who sit on Meno Ya Win board as they have pledged allegiance to Meno Ya Win.
Check the fine print on Ontario’s Hospital Act whereby they are required to provide their informed consent to such a pledged allegiance before they can sit down as board members. Somehow their allegiance to our people got dropped on the floor somewhere.
Our people need to know the following:
• Canada, on behalf of First Nations people, provided the total amount of $8.2 million towards the construction costs; and
• Our net savings of $12.56 million were provided to Meno Ya Win’s operating costs by our chiefs.
When the grand opening for Meno Ya Win occurs one issue which some of us have continually raised will still not be addressed.
We had asked, for some ‘designated’ space, within the hospital for our northern doctors to see their patients, our people.
Within Meno Ya Win no such space is provided as per Ontario’s Hospital Act.
It was suggested our doctor space requirement might be met with a trailer beside the hospital.
What is happening has been supported by our leaders.
We will get a trailer beside Meno Ya Win.
This is after:
• Canada provided $8.2 million (on behalf of our people) towards the construction costs; and
• We provided $12.56 million of much-needed net savings funds to this hospital’s operating costs.
On another topic, up to now, our First Nations have not received the full amount of the net savings funds which rightfully belong to our people.
Every year, the chiefs are coerced by SLFNHA to divert some of these funds for their own purposes. This is our people’s money and our chiefs have no right to allow this diversion.
We are a people who have been used and abused so many times it doesn’t seem to matter anymore. Our chiefs have been part of this process for so long that they don’t even know they have become part of our problem.
In any event, we will show up Oct. 15 at the grand opening of Meno Ya Win. We will partake of the champagne and caviar and smile.
I am an Indigenous person and by God’s grace I am a member of the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Nation and a signatory to the James Bay Treaty or Treaty 9.
And I deserve more than a trailer beside Meno Ya Win.
My treaty right to health must mean more than that as after all, my treaty right to health money, to a tune of $20.76 million has gone into that hospital.
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