Municipal - Indigenous Relations: A Backgrounder
Municipalities and Indigenous Friendship Centres
Strengthening relations with Indigenous people is important to Ontario’s municipal governments, which often work directly with Indigenous people living in their communities.
To support this effort, AMO is working with the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres (OFIFC), which serves Indigenous people living off-reserve in cities, towns and rural areas. AMO and the OFIFC have worked together toward the co-development and signing of a Declaration of Mutual Commitment and Friendship. The Friendship Declaration highlights the ways that AMO and OFIFC can work together, on behalf of their respective members, to improve the quality of life of Indigenous people across Ontario’s municipalities.
The Declaration will be publicly signed at AMO’s 2020 Virtual Conference. As part of this initiative, AMO encourages and will support local municipalities to develop local Friendship Declarations with Friendship Centres in their own communities.
Friendship Centres are non-profit organizations that provide culturally based services to urban Indigenous people. The OFIFC represents the collective interests of 29 Friendship Centres in municipalities across Ontario, providing members with research, policy advocacy, training, and program support.
AMO is looking to strengthen the relationship between our two organizations with a focus on information-sharing and ongoing collaboration and in addition to the Friendship Declaration has signed a memorandum of understanding with he OFIFC. AMO encourages municipalities to explore their own approaches to working with local Friendship Centres. Strengthenings these relationships helps ensure greater social equity by focusing on services for urban Indigenous people. As such, the AMO Indigenous Relations Task Force and the AMO-OFIFC Declaration Working Group continue to meet regularly.
Many municipal governments have taken steps to improve relationships with neighbouring First Nation and Métis governments. AMO’s 2019 paper on Municipal Governments and the Crown’s ‘Duty to Consult’ is a helpful resource for municipal governments on consulting with Indigenous governments. The paper advocates for a clear, all-of-government approach around the Duty to Consult that reflects municipal capacity limits while also respecting the rights of First Nations.
AMO continues to advocate for greater municipal inclusion in land claim negotiations and treaty implementation scenarios when there is a municipal impact.