The Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM) met with representatives of Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) on October 29, 2013 in Timmins to gain a better understanding of the position of NAN First Nations with respect to Governance and Education jurisdiction. FONOM and NAN are calling on the federal government to support NAN’s vision of education.
Deputy Grand Chief Goyce Kakegamic described NAN’s ongoing negotiations with the federal government for the implementation of their inherent right to self-governance, which includes education. He explained the position of NAN First Nations is that the future of education in NAN should not be based on new federal legislation but rather on laws passed by NAN communities under their own education jurisdiction: “Our children, our education, our laws.”
Following the meeting, which was attended by municipal leaders including 9 mayors, and a number of councillors and school board officials, there was a shared sentiment by the group that many of the challenges facing First Nations are challenges faced by all Northern Ontario communities.
There was agreement that dialogue at the regional level is a key component in negotiations and relationship-building. FONOM represents 110 municipalities and NAN represents 49 First Nations which demonstrates a significant opportunity for a strong regional voice to advocate for Northern concerns.
FONOM and NAN look forward to building on this meeting and strengthening relationships with First Nations and area municipalities, and have expressed a willingness to look for ways to work together on regional education and economic development initiatives.