Municipal - Indigenous Relations
Strengthening relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians is important to municipal governments and their residents across Ontario. Working together, municipal and Indigenous governments can advance mutual interests, address shared concerns and enhance neighbourly relations. As service providers, municipal governments must be responsive to the needs of Indigenous residents and Indigenous service-users who travel from neighbouring communities to access municipal services. Indigenous Ontarians also contribute to local economies and the cultural vitality of Ontario’s municipalities.
Many municipal governments have taken actions to improve and deepen relationships with neighbouring First Nation and Métis governments as well as Indigenous service providers. They are also taking action to improve relations with Indigenous residents living within the municipality. Indigenous advisory councils, joint council meetings, ‘urban’ Indigenous action plans and other municipal reconciliatory activities are increasingly common. The Federal and Provincial Crowns can facilitate municipal-Indigenous relationship building on the ground by supporting and funding local reconciliatory activities. Municipal governments, Indigenous governments and the Federal and Provincial Crowns should work together to address outstanding issues impacting municipal-Indigenous relations such as the Duty to Consult and Accommodate, and the municipal role in land claims and treaty negotiations.
AMO’s newly created Indigenous Relations Task Force (IRTF) provides the AMO Board with advice to further municipal-Indigenous relationship building on the ground. It also provides advice on emerging Municipal-Indigenous relations policy issues affecting Ontario’s municipal governments.
Declaration of Mutual Commitment and Friendship
During AMO’s 2020 Virtual Conference, the Declaration of Mutual Commitment and Friendship was signed by the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.
Developed and led by the collective expertise of Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres (OFIFC) and AMO’s memberships, the Declaration highlights the relationships and work being done to improve the quality of life of Indigenous people across Ontario’s municipalities.
The Declaration emphasizes the leadership of collaborating Friendship Centres and municipal governments and raises the bar for increased and future dialogue and partnership. The agreement is designed to help municipal governments and Friendship Centres build relationships to improve supports and services for Indigenous people in their communities.
Throughout Ontario, 85 per cent of Indigenous people live in urban and rural municipalities. The OFIFC represents the collective interests of 29 Friendship Centres in cities and towns across the province – places for community members and Indigenous people living in urban spaces to gather, connect with one another and receive culturally-based services. The centres support and encourage equal access to, and participation in, Canadian society while respecting Indigenous cultural distinctiveness, and have existed in Ontario communities for more than half a century.
Municipal governments and Friendship Centres have now formally signed the Declaration (as below) and several more partners are in the process of discussing a local declaration.
- The Town of Fort Erie, The Region of Niagara and The Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre
- The Town of Sioux Lookout and The Nishnawbe-Gamik Friendship Centre
- The City of London and The N’Amerind Friendship Centre
- The Town of Cochrane and The Ininew Friendship Centre
- The City of Sault Ste. Marie and The Indian Friendship Centre
- The City of Hamilton and The Hamilton Regional Indian Centre
- The City of Red Lake and The Red Lake Indian Friendship Centre
The agreement is a living document where AMO and OFIFC will continue to recognize leadership by municipal governments and Friendship Centres now and into the future as more local communities sign on. OFIFC and AMO hope that this Declaration becomes a framework for meaningful relationship building between urban Indigenous communities and municipalities. It plans for the collective memberships to play a leadership role and set a standard by advancing reconciliation locally and regionally, and establishing relationships that improve the wellbeing of Indigenous communities across Ontario.
Please contact AMO Policy, if your municipality and Friendship Centre have signed a local declaration and you wish to be included in the OFIFC - AMO Declaration initiative. For more information, please contact Monika Turner, AMO Director of Policy.