First Nation Jurisdiction on Health and Social Systems, Economic Rights Must Be Starting Point for Dialogue with Canada Says Ontario Regional Chief

TORONTO, ON (April 13, 2017) —Ontario Regional Chief Isadore says that First Nations must have the
opportunity to consult and participate fully fromthe new cannabis legislation announced today.

“First Nations leadership will focus on the priorities of this new legislation as it pertains to the jurisdiction within the health, social, justice and economy sectorsof our communities and how it will impact our families. The health and social well being must be the first priority for us,” said Ontario Regional Chief Day.

“What does the federal legislation legalizing marijuana mean from the perspective and from priorities of a legal and jurisdictional lens of First Nations in the Ontarioregion? Failing to address this legislation based on effective consultation and failing to establish decisions based on First Nation consent, will see the marijuana legislation struggle and potentially falter.”

At the Assembly of First Nations annual meeting in December 2016, chiefs unanimously supported a resolution which directs the organization to push Ottawa for “prioritiesand incentives to ensure that First Nations are given the opportunity to participate and benefit fully from the development of this new and emerging sector.”

Last year, Ontario established a cannabis legalization secretariat, part of an effort to explore various options the federallegislation could present to prevent having to start from scratch once the bill is unveiled.

“The level of discussion that has occurred so far on the legalization of marijuana with First Nations in Ontario has been slim to none,” said Regional Chief Day.“This is counterproductive in building a foundation to start this dialogue with Canada. There must be immediate bilateral dialogue that is amendable to First Nations in Ontario.”

According to reports, the goal is to make legalization a reality across the country before July 1, 2018.

“As the Assembly of First Nations Health portfolio holder, my first concern will be health impacts and social implications. As the Ontario Regional Chief, my focuson today’s legislation will be ‘what does the federal legislation legalizing marijuana mean from the perspective and from priorities of a legal and jurisdictional lens of First Nations in the Ontario Region? Interested First Nations must have the opportunityfor to participate in this new economic stream by harvesting cannabis in secure facilities, through ridged health regulations for sale to mainstream Canada and export.”

“Chiefs from across the region will have their say on this we will ensure we coordinate on fulsome discussion and a targeted dialogue. Chiefs and their First Nationleadership will set the direction to effectively review and decide on active measures to address this legislation,” concluded Regional Chief.


The Chiefs of Ontario is an advocacy forum, and a secretariat for collective decision making, action, and advocacy for the 133 First Nation communities located within the boundaries of theprovince of Ontario, Canada.

For more info, please contact: Jamie Monastyrski, Communications: 807-630-7087

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