Transcript: Strengthening Municipal and Indigenous Ties | Aug 19, 2020

Nam sits in the studio. She's in her early forties, with shoulder length curly brown hair. She's wearing glasses, a blue blazer over a matching blouse, and a golden pendant necklace.

A caption on screen reads "Strengthening municipal and indigenous ties. Nam Kiwanuka, @namshine, @theagenda."

Nam says EARLIER TODAY, THE ASSOCIATION OF MUNICIPALITIES OF ONTARIO AND THE ONTARIO FEDERATION OF INDIGENOUS FRIENDSHIP CENTRES ANNOUNCED A LANDMARK AGREEMENT. IT AIMS TO IMPROVE THE WORKING RELATIONSHIP AMONG COMMUNITIES TO GET BETTER OUTCOMES FOR EVERYONE, ON A RANGE OF ISSUES. WITH US NOW FOR MORE: IN SIOUX LOOKOUT, IN NORTHWESTERN ONTARIO, MAYOR DOUG LAWRANCE...

Doug is in his sixties, clean-shaven, with short, receding white hair. He's wearing glasses, a black suit and a white shirt.

Nam continues IN SHUNIAH, ONTARIO, ON THE NORTH SHORE OF LAKE SUPERIOR, MAYOR WENDY LANDRY. SHE IS ALSO PRESIDENT OF THE NORTHWESTERN ONTARIO MUNICIPAL ASSOCIATION...

Wendy is in her fifties, with short, feathery black hair and side-swept bangs. She's wearing glasses, a black blouse and a pendant necklace.

Nam continues AND IN FORT ERIE, IN THE SOUTHWESTERN PART OF THE PROVINCE, JENNIFER DOCKSTADER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE FORT ERIE NATIVE FRIENDSHIP CENTRE AND PRESIDENT OF THE ONTARIO FEDERATION OF INDIGENOUS FRIENDSHIP CENTRES...

Jennifer is in her twenties, with wavy dark hair in a ponytail. She's wearing glasses and a purple cardigan over a pink blouse.

Nam continues WELCOME TO YOU ALL. SO NICE TO SEE YOU ALL.

Wendy says THANK YOU.

Jennifer says GOOD TO SEE YOU.

Nam says THIS IS BEING CALLED A LANDMARK AGREEMENT. HOW WOULD YOU CAPTURE THIS MOMENT IN JUST A COUPLE OF SENTENCES? MAYOR LANDRY, I'D LIKE TO START WITH YOU.

The caption changes to "Wendy Landry. Mayor of Shuniah."

Wendy says THANK YOU FOR THE OPPORTUNITY. THIS IS AN OPPORTUNITY TO BRING ALL OF US TOGETHER FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER. YOU'RE COMMUNITIES HAVE BEEN DIVIDED AND HAVEN'T HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO GET TO KNOW EACH OTHER, KNOW HOW OUR COMMUNITIES WORK AND HOW OUR GOVERNANCE STRUCTURE WORKS. THIS IS A LANDMARK AGREEMENT THAT BRINGS OUR COMMUNITIES TOGETHER TO LEARN ABOUT EACH OTHER AND MUTUAL UNDERSTANDING AND MOVING FORWARD IN OUR ADVOCACY FOR SIMILAR ITEMS.

Nam says JENNIFER, WHAT ABOUT YOU?

The caption changes to "Jennifer Dockstader. Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres."

Jennifer says I THINK IT'S LANDMARK BECAUSE IT STARTS TO IDENTIFY THAT THE URBAN AND RURAL COMMUNITIES OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLE LIVE ACTUALLY OFF RESERVE. 85 percent OF US ACTUALLY DO. SO THAT'S NOT WIDELY KNOWN IN ONTARIO AND WE CAN START TO REALLY UNDERSTAND HOW TO WORK COLLABORATIVELY TOGETHER.

Nam says WE'LL TALK MORE ABOUT THAT IN JUST A MOMENT. MAYOR LAWRANCE, WHAT ABOUT YOU?

The caption changes to "Doug Lawrance. Mayor of Sioux Lookout."

Doug says I THINK A LANDMARK IS PERHAPS... IT FORMALIZES THE LINES OF COMMUNICATION. IT'S OKAY FOR FRIENDSHIP CENTRES TO TALK TO MUNICIPALITIES AND VICE VERSA. TRADITIONALLY FIRST NATIONS TALKED TO NATION TO NATION TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, WE'RE A FEW STEPS DOWN. THIS OPENS THAT LINE FORMALLY.

Nam says LET'S TALK ABOUT WHAT IT'S LIKE NOW. MAYOR LANDRY, I'D LIKE TO START WITH YOU. UP UNTIL NOW, ONTARIO CITIES AND TOWNS AND INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES HAVE BEEN WORKING SEPARATELY FOR THE MOST PART?

Wendy says THEY HAVE BEEN WORKING SEPARATELY FOR THE MOST PART. YOU KNOW, FOREVER IT'S BEEN DIVIDING OUR COMMUNITIES AND OUR COMMUNITIES ADVOCATING AND WORKING TOWARDS THEIR OWN INDIVIDUAL ISSUES AND ADVOCACY, AND WHAT THIS DOES IS BRING US TOGETHER AND WORKING TOGETHER ON ISSUES THAT ARE FORMALLY COMMON BETWEEN BOTH OF OUR COMMUNITIES, AND IT BUILDS OUR STRENGTH AND OUR NUMBERS AND IT BRINGS US TOGETHER BECAUSE WE ARE WORKING ON THE SAME ISSUES, WE'RE WORKING ON THE SAME... WORKING TOGETHER TO IMPROVE OUR COMMUNITIES AND WORKING ON INITIATIVES THAT ARE SIMILAR IN CONTEXT, SO I THINK THAT THIS IS SOMETHING THAT, YOU KNOW, BRINGS US FORMALLY TOGETHER, AS DOUG MENTIONED, AND I THINK THAT FOREVER WE'VE BEEN WORKING SEPARATELY AND IT ALSO OFFERS THE OPPORTUNITY FOR US TO GET TO KNOW EACH OTHER AND HOW OUR COMMUNITIES ARE STRUCTURED, OUR GOVERNANCE STRUCTURE, AND BRINGS A COMMON VOICE TOGETHER.

Nam says JENNIFER, IN TERMS OF HOW MUNICIPALITIES MAKE DECISIONS, WHAT WILL AN AGREEMENT LIKE THIS ALLOW FOR?

The caption changes to "Jennifer Dockstader. Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre."

Jennifer says IT REALLY WILL ALLOW US TO ADD OUR VOICE TO SOLVING PROBLEMS AND HAVING SOLUTIONS. AGAIN, HAVING AN INDIGENOUS PERSPECTIVE AND A CULTURAL PERSPECTIVE WOVEN INTO THE MAINSTREAM OF MUNICIPALITIES WILL REALLY BENEFIT EVERYONE IN COMMUNITY.

The caption changes to "For more about Association of Municipalities of Ontario Conference go to amo.on.ca or youtube.com/amolasvideos."

Nam says MAYOR LAWRANCE, I'D LIKE TO ASK YOU THE SAME QUESTION. IN TERMS OF HOW MUNICIPALITIES MAKE DECISIONS, WHAT WILL AN AGREEMENT LIKE THIS ALLOW FOR?

Doug says WELL, IT'S INTERESTING. I THINK WE'RE QUITE ENGAGED WITH THE FIRST NATIONS AND FIRST NATION AGENCIES. I THINK WHAT THIS DOES IS ACTUALLY, WHEN THE LOCAL EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE FRIENDSHIP CENTRE CAME IN AND WE SIGNED THE DOCUMENT TOGETHER HERE, THE LOCAL DOCUMENT, WE SAID, LET'S RESET. LET'S MEET AND JUST SAY, HOW CAN WE ENHANCE OUR RELATIONSHIP IN LIGHT OF THIS AGREEMENT?

Nam says JENNIFER, EARLIER ON YOU MENTIONED THAT 85 percent OF ONTARIO'S INDIGENOUS POPULATION LIVES IN URBAN AREAS. WHY ARE PEOPLE SHOCKED WHEN YOU TELL THEM THAT?

The caption changes to "Jennifer Dockstader, @FENFCExecDirect."

Jennifer says MOSTLY THEY THINK THAT WE ONLY BELONG ON RESERVE, AND IT REALLY DOESN'T MAKE SENSE IF WE'RE ALL IN TREATY TERRITORIES THROUGHOUT ONTARIO. OF COURSE, WE'RE GOING TO CONTINUE TO LIVE AS WE'VE ALWAYS LIVED, ALL OVER THE PROVINCE, AND IT'S NOT JUST THAT WE BELONG IN ONE AREA. WE ACTUALLY BELONG ON TURTLE ISLAND.

Nam says I MEAN, IT'S ABSURD BECAUSE IF I WAS TO MOVE ANYWHERE, I COULD MOVE ANYWHERE IN CANADA AND I'M A SETTLER. WHY DO YOU THINK PEOPLE HAVE THAT PERCEPTION?

Jennifer says A LOT OF THIS IS PROPAGANDA. IT'S BEEN PERPETRATED BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OVER HUNDREDS OF YEARS AT THIS POINT TO ACTUALLY SAY THAT WE ONLY BELONG IN CERTAIN AREAS, WE ONLY DO CERTAIN THINGS, AND THERE'S A CERTAIN SET OF BELIEF SYSTEMS ABOUT INDIGENOUS PEOPLE THAT ACTUALLY AREN'T TRUE. SO ANOTHER PART OF THIS AGREEMENT IS THAT IN PART OF GETTING TO KNOW ONE ANOTHER, IT'S ACTUALLY BRINGING OUR SKILLS AND OUR TALENTS AND OUR ABILITIES AND OUR CULTURAL KNOWLEDGE INTO THE MAINSTREAM TO SEE THAT WE HAVE VALUE AND WE'RE IMPORTANT.

Nam says YOU WERE VICE PRESIDENT OF THE ONTARIO FEDERATION OF INDIGENOUS FRIENDSHIP CENTRES. NOW YOU'RE PRESIDENT. CONGRATULATIONS. WHAT ARE FRIENDSHIP CENTRES?

A satellite view of Fort Erie and the surrounding areas pops up on screen marking the locations of Niagara Falls and Saint Catharines.

Jennifer says FRIENDSHIP CENTRES ARE MULTI-SERVICE AGENCIES FOCUSED ON CULTURE AND FOCUSED ON SUPPORTING INDIGENOUS PEOPLE WHEREVER THEY LIVE, IN URBAN AND RURAL AREAS OUTSIDE OF RESERVES, AND THEY HAVE EMPLOYMENT SUPPORTS, THEY HAVE EDUCATION SUPPORT, THEY HAVE SOCIAL SUPPORT, CULTURE SUPPORT. A LOT OF OUR FRIENDSHIP CENTRES HAVE PROGRAMS THAT RANGE FROM AS FEW AS SIX PROGRAMS IN A FRIENDSHIP CENTRE ALL THE WAY UP TO 28, 29 DIFFERENT PROGRAMS AND SERVICES THAT WE OFFER, ALL UNDER ONE ROOF.

Nam says AND THEY'VE BEEN AROUND FOR ABOUT 50 YEARS?

Jennifer says YES.

Nam says SO MAYOR LAWRANCE, INDIGENOUS PEOPLE LARGELY INTERACT WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, BUT HOW OFTEN ARE THEY ACCESSING OR COMING IN CONTACT WITH SERVICES PROVIDED BY ONTARIO CITIES OR TOWNS?

A satellite view of Sioux Lookout pops up marking the location of Thunder Bay and Lake Superior.

The caption changes to "Doug Lawrance, @doug_lawrance."

Doug says WELL, IT'S CONSTANT, ABOUT 70 percent OF OUR ECONOMIC ACTIVITY IS DIRECTLY RELATED TO SERVING FIRST NATIONS PEOPLE AND FIRST NATIONS. OUR IN-TOWN POPULATION IS PROBABLY 50 percent INDIGENOUS. THEY'RE COMING IN FOR HEALTH CARE, FOR EDUCATION, TRAINING FOR RETAIL. AND JUST AS WE GO SOUTH FOR SHOPPING AND VACATIONS, THEY COME SOUTH FOR SHOPPING AND FOR RETAIL AND WHOLESALE. A LOT ARE REMOTE FLY-IN. A TRIP OUT ON WINTER ROADS REALLY IS A SUPPLY TRIP FOR THEM. THERE'S CONSTANT INTERACTION AND MANY FAMILIES... MUCH FAMILY INTERACTION TO MANY OF THE NORTHERN COMMUNITIES HAVE FAMILY MEMBERS. IT'S JUST A CONSTANT FLOW BACK AND FORTH.

Nam says JUST TO GO BACK TO WHAT JENNIFER WAS SAYING ABOUT THIS PERCEPTION THAT INDIGENOUS PEOPLE ARE NOT IN URBAN AREAS. YOU'VE ACTUALLY SAID THAT IF THEY WEREN'T IN YOUR MUNICIPALITY, THAT SIOUX LOOKOUT WOULD BE A GHOST TOWN, IS THAT CORRECT?

Doug says WELL, NOT QUITE A GHOST TOWN, BUT ALMOST, ABSOLUTELY. WE TRANSITIONED FROM 30 OR 35 YEARS AGO, WE WERE PART OF THE EARLY WARNING ALIGNMENT, WE THOUGHT THE RUSSIANS WERE COMING. TURNS OUT THEY WEREN'T COMING AND THE MILITARY LEFT TOWN. CN DROPPED CABOOSES FROM TRAINS AND THE LOGGING INDUSTRY PACKED UP. WE DIDN'T SKIP ANY STEPS BECAUSE THE FIRST NATIONS, THE AIRSTRIPS, THE AIRPORTS WERE BEING DEVELOPED IN 30 FIRST NATIONS TO THE NORTH. THAT IS THE ECONOMY HERE. THEY SET UP THE TRIBAL COUNCIL. THEIR HOSPITAL IS REALLY THE NEW HOSPITAL 10 YEARS AGO IS 85 percent OF THE PATIENTS AT THE HOSPITAL ARE FIRST NATIONS. WE HAVE ON ANY GIVEN DAY THERE'S 250 OUTPATIENTS IN TOWN GETTING SERVED AND THEN EDUCATION TRAINING AND THE FIRST NATIONS ARE INVESTING IN OUR TOWNS, RESTAURANTS, AIRLINES, MANY BUSINESSES HERE. WE'RE HIGHLY DEPENDENT ON FIRST NATIONS.

Nam says MAYOR LAWRANCE, ONE OF THE GOALS LISTED IN THIS DECLARATION IS TO "ENHANCE SOCIAL COHESION BETWEEN INDIGENOUS AND NON-INDIGENOUS PEOPLE." HOW MUCH OF THAT IS ALREADY GOING ON IN SIOUX LOOKOUT?

Doug says A LOT. IT'S VERY, VERY INTEGRATED THAT WAY. CERTAINLY THERE'S... THIS ISN'T HEAVEN HERE BY ANY MEANS, BUT I THINK WE'VE COME A LONG WAY IN THE VERY INTEGRATION RELATIONSHIPS AND RESPECT FOR DIFFERENT CULTURES. IT'S VERY MUCH ENGRAINED.

Nam says MAYOR LANDRY, HOW MIGHT INDIGENOUS PEOPLE NEED MUNICIPAL SERVICES TO BE DELIVERED DIFFERENT TO THEM THAN, SAY, HOW THEY WOULD BE DELIVERED TO A NON-INDIGENOUS PERSON?

The caption changes to "Wendy Landry. Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association."

Wendy says WELL, WHEN WE TALK ABOUT OUR MEDICAL SERVICES AND OUR SCHOOLS, YOU KNOW, THE AWARENESS OF THE CULTURAL HISTORY, THE HISTORY OF CANADA AND THE RELATIONSHIP WITH INDIGENOUS PEOPLE IS VERY IMPORTANT, AND TO UNDERSTAND OUR CULTURE AND UNDERSTAND OUR PEOPLE AND TO BE ABLE TO INTERACT AND SOME OF THE NEEDS ARE VERY, VERY DIFFERENT. WE FIND THAT A LOT OF OUR INDIGENOUS PEOPLE END UP IN OUR MUNICIPALITY FOR DIFFERENT REASONS, AS MENTIONED BY MAYOR LAWRANCE, AND IN ORDER FOR US TO SERVE AND MEET THE NEEDS OF OUR INDIGENOUS PEOPLE THAT ARE IN OUR COMMUNITIES, WE NEED TO BE ABLE TO HAVE SERVICES THAT ARE UNDERSTANDING AND ARE AWARE OF THE CULTURAL DIFFERENCES AND THE CULTURAL NEEDS...

Nam says CAN YOU GIVE US AN EXAMPLE? YOU SAID THAT NEEDS ARE VERY DIFFERENT. CAN YOU GIVE AN EXAMPLE?

Wendy says WELL, YOU KNOW, SOME OF OUR INDIGENOUS PEOPLE END UP IN OUR COMMUNITY FOR DIFFERENT REASONS AND SOME OF THEM ARE... THEY COME ON MEDICAL APPOINTMENTS AND THEY END UP STAYING, OR THEY RAN INTO TROUBLE ON THEIR OWN FIRST NATIONS AND THEY'VE COME INTO OUR COMMUNITIES AND FOUND THEMSELVES STAYING AND THEY MIGHT BE STAYING IN FRIENDS' PLACES AND WEAR OUT THEIR TIME AND NEED TO FIND HOUSING. IN ORDER TO APPLY FOR DSAP, FOR EXAMPLE, YOU HAVE TO HAVE AN ADDRESS. SOME OF OUR INDIGENOUS PEOPLE ARE TRANSIENT AND CAN'T APPLY THROUGH THE APPLICATION, SO YOU NEED TO BE AWARE OF THE DIFFERENT SITUATIONS THAT PEOPLE FIND THEM IN IN ORDER TO HELP THEM THROUGH OUR PROGRAMMING.

Nam says MAYOR LANDRY... WELL, I WANT TO ASK THE SAME QUESTION TO YOU, MAYOR LAWRANCE. IS IT DIFFICULT TO GET THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO PAY ATTENTION TO AND INVESTING IN INDIGENOUS PEOPLE, SPECIFICALLY LIVING IN MUNICIPALITIES. MAYOR LANDRY, I'LL START WITH YOU.

The caption changes to "Wendy Landry, @wendy_landry."

Wendy says YOU KNOW, IT'S DIFFERENT BECAUSE AGAIN WHEN WE TALK ABOUT SILOS, THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HAS THE OVERSEE OF THE FIRST NATIONS AND NOT JUST FIRST NATIONS PEOPLE IN OUR FIRST NATIONS AND OUR COMMUNITIES, BUT THEN YOU HAVE THE PROVINCE THAT OVERSEES US AS MUNICIPALITIES AND SERVICES THAT ARE BEING PAID FOR FROM ONE GOVERNMENT FOR FIRST NATIONS PEOPLE AND THEN ANOTHER GOVERNMENT FOR MUNICIPALITIES TEND TO NOT BE ABLE TO INTERACT A WHOLE LOT. SO, YOU KNOW, WHEN WE TALK ABOUT OUR POLICING SERVICES, OUR EMERGENCY SERVICES THAT ARE ALL DOWNLOADED AND PAID BY THE MUNICIPALITIES AND NOW YOU HAVE INDIGENOUS PEOPLE THAT ARE COMING FROM THE COMMUNITIES THAT ARE TECHNICALLY THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND THAT FEDERAL FUNDING DOESN'T SEEM TO FLOW TO THE MUNICIPALITIES IN THE SAME WAY.

Nam says IT SOUNDS VERY COMPLICATED. MAYOR LAWRANCE?

Doug says YEAH, AND IT'S ABSOLUTELY... IT'S NATION TO NATION, FIRST NATIONS DEALING WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT... MONEY IS BEING SPENT ON INDIGENOUS ISSUES IS TYPICALLY GOING TO GO TO FIRST NATIONS, THE NEXT LEVEL DOWN, THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT IS A STEP. FOR THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO DEAL DIRECTLY WITH MUNICIPALITIES, IT'S VERY RARE. SO THAT'S A CHALLENGE. I'D JUST LIKE TO ADD ON THE CULTURALLY APPROPRIATE SERVICES, LET'S SAY, THE PREVIOUS POINT, FIRST NATIONS PEOPLE COME DOWN FROM OUR NORTH AND SOME DON'T SPEAK ENGLISH, THEIR FIRST LANGUAGE WILL BE CREE OR CREE OJIBWAY, AND WE HAVE TRANSLATION SERVICES AT THE HOSPITAL, THERE ARE 10 FULL-TIME INTERPRETERS AT THE HOSPITAL. IT'S THE ONLY HOSPITAL IN ONTARIO THAT RUNS AN UNCERTIFIED FOOD PROGRAM. SO THE DIET IN THE NORTH CONSISTS OF A LOT OF MOOSE, GEESE, FISH. THAT CAN BE SERVED. HUNTERS DONATE OR BRING FOOD TO THE HOSPITAL AND THAT'S SERVED AT THE HOSPITAL, A TRADITIONAL HEALING ROOM AT THE HOSPITAL. THOSE ARE THE KINDS OF SERVICES THAT REALLY MEAN SOMETHING HERE.

Nam says JENNIFER, IT KIND OF SOUNDS AS IF THERE'S A LOT OF PASSING OF THE BUCK. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON WHAT THEY WERE JUST SAYING?

Jennifer says IT'S ACTUALLY INTERESTING BECAUSE THE OTHER EXPERIENCES THAT WE'VE GOT THREE AND FOUR GENERATIONS WHO HAVE ACTUALLY LIVED OFF OF RESERVE COMMUNITIES IN URBAN AND RURAL SETTINGS THROUGHOUT ONTARIO. SO YOU'RE RIGHT. THIS DIVISION IS ACTUALLY CALLED COLONIZATION, AND THE EFFECTS OF COLONIZATION IS A LACK OF RECOGNITION OF WHO WE ARE AS INDIGENOUS PEOPLE, OUR OVERALL VALUE, AGAIN AT THE SAME TIME AS THE PROPAGANDA IS GOING ON. THAT'S WHAT MAKES THIS... I'M GOING TO BRING IT BACK TO THE AGREEMENT. THAT'S WHAT'S SO IMPORTANT ABOUT THIS AGREEMENT. IS WE HAVE BEEN PROVIDING SERVICES AS FRIENDSHIP CENTRES FOR OVER 50 YEARS AT THIS POINT TO OUR COMMUNITY, AND WE'RE ACTUALLY AT THE POINT IN TIME WHERE WE CAN BE INTEGRATED INTO THE COMMUNITY, THE RECOGNITION OF OUR INTEGRATION, THAT WE ARE YOUR NEIGHBOURS, WE ARE ACTUALLY YOUR LAWYERS, WE ARE YOUR DOCTORS, WE ARE YOUR FRIENDS, AND WE ARE YOUR BANK CLERKS AND SO ON AND SO FORTH. WE'VE BEEN AROUND FOR A VERY LONG TIME. THIS IS NOT A NEW PHENOMENON AT ALL.

Nam says DOUG... MAYOR LAWRANCE, DID YOU WANT TO ADD ON TO THAT?

Doug says SURE, JUST IN TERMS OF OUR DISCUSSION. IT'S DANGEROUS WATERS TO STEREOTYPE, URBAN PEOPLE AND URBAN INDIGENOUS PEOPLE, JUST LIKE MAINSTREAM PEOPLE, NON-INDIGENOUS PEOPLE. THERE'S A SPECTRUM. YOU CAN'T TYPIFY OR CHARACTERIZE EVERYBODY AS BEING IN THE SAME PLACE.

Nam says JENNIFER, WHEN IT COMES TO INDIGENOUS PEOPLE LIVING ON RESERVES, HOW MUCH COLLABORATION AND CONTACT GOES ON BETWEEN THEM AND MUNICIPALITIES?

Jennifer says I ACTUALLY THINK THAT IT DEPENDS ON THE AREA AND THE PROXIMITY OF THE MUNICIPALITY TO THE FIRST NATIONS RESERVE THAT ACTUALLY EXISTS. AND WHERE MUNICIPALITIES ARE CLOSE TO FIRST NATIONS COMMUNITIES, PREDOMINANTLY THERE IS MORE INTERACTION.

Nam says SO WOULD THEY BE ACCESSING LIKE HEALTH SERVICES OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT?

Jennifer says IT'S FUNNY BECAUSE, AGAIN, FIRST NATIONS COMMUNITIES DON'T HAVE THE MECHANISMS, THEY'RE CHRONICALLY UNDERFUNDED. THE OVER ALL THING IS, AGAIN, AS A POPULATION, INDIGENOUS PEOPLE ARE THE MOST DISADVANTAGED POPULATION WITHIN CANADA, ESPECIALLY INDIGENOUS WOMEN AND CHILDREN, AND WHEN WE LOOK AT THAT, THAT IS WHETHER YOU'RE ON RESERVE COMMUNITY WHERE THERE'S A LACK OF RUNNING WATER AND THERE'S A LACK OF A HOUSING INFRASTRUCTURE, THOSE SAME PROBLEMS EXIST FOR THE URBAN... URBAN AND RURAL INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES OFF RESERVE AS WELL. AND AGAIN, WE'VE GOT TO BRING IT BACK TO THIS AGREEMENT. IF WE START WORKING TOGETHER COLLABORATIVELY WITH MUNICIPALITIES, WE CAN ACTUALLY HAVE A HAND IN SOLVING PROBLEMS THAT HAVE BEEN HISTORIC IN NATURE ACROSS CANADA.

Nam says MAYOR LANDRY, AS THIS PROVINCE RECOVERS FROM COVID-19, WHAT PROJECTS CAN MUNICIPALITIES AND INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES WORK ON TOGETHER THAT WOULD BENEFIT BOTH OF THEM? AND WE SHOULD MENTION THAT YOU ALSO REP ENBRIDGE GAS?

Wendy says YES, THANK YOU. THAT'S MY FULL-TIME JOB. AS A FIRST NATIONS WOMAN WHO IS A MUNICIPAL MAYOR ELECTED IN OUR COMMUNITY, THE ABILITY TO BRING OUR COMMUNITIES TOGETHER HAS BEEN... I'VE BEEN FORTUNATE. YOU KNOW, YOU FIND YOURSELF IN A POSITION SOMETIMES THAT YOU DIDN'T EXPECT, AND SO I ACCEPT THIS RESPONSIBILITY AND TAKE IT VERY SERIOUSLY AND IT'S MY JOURNEY TO BRING TOGETHER MUNICIPALITIES AND OUR FIRST NATIONS PEOPLE, AND IF YOU LOOK AT THE COMMUNITY THAT I HAVE BEEN ELECTED IN, SHUNIAH, IT IS AN OJIBWAY NAME FOR THE... IN THIS TIME OF COVID, AS WE HAVE BEEN AS OMA, WE HAVE BEEN WORKING WITH CHIEFS IN THE COMMUNITIES, ON DIFFERENT INITIATIVES SUCH AS THE FORESTRY SECTOR TO BRING BACK ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT FEES, OUR ENERGY SECTOR IN THE NORTHWEST, WE BELIEVE WE ARE THE FUTURE OF ONTARIO WITH THE NATURAL RESOURCES WE HAVE AVAILABLE IN THIS PART OF THE PROVINCE, BEING THE MINING, THE FOREST INDUSTRY, AND ALL OF THOSE KIND OF THINGS AND COMING TOGETHER AND ADVOCATING FOR THOSE PROJECTS MOVING FORWARD WITH OUR FIRST NATIONS LEADERSHIP AND OUR COMMUNITY IS WE CAN BUILD PROSPERITY WITH ALL OF US FOR ALL OF OUR COMMUNITIES TOGETHER AND HELP BUILD ONTARIO AND CONTRIBUTE TO ONTARIO AT THE SAME TIME. SO WORKING TOGETHER COLLABORATIVELY WITH OUR CHIEFS IN THE REGION HAS BEEN BENEFICIAL ESPECIALLY WHEN WE'VE BEEN ADVOCATING TO BRING BACK THE FOREST INDUSTRY IN THIS PART OF THE PROVINCE AND MOVING FORWARD WE HAVE THE NATURAL RESOURCES IN THIS PART OF THE PROVINCE TO HELP THAT RECOVERY PROCESS. SO WORKING TOGETHER WITH OUR FIRST NATIONS LEADERSHIP IS SOMETHING THAT WE CAN COLLABORATIVELY DO IN WORKING WITH THE GOVERNMENT AND BUILDING BACK THIS PROVINCE AND DOING THAT RECOVERY PIECE FROM COVID.

Nam says MAYOR LAWRANCE, I'D LIKE TO ASK YOU THE SAME QUESTION: WHAT PROJECTS CAN MUNICIPALITIES AND INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES WORK ON TOGETHER THAT WOULD BENEFIT BOTH OF THEM AS THE PROVINCE RECOVERS FROM COVID-19?

Doug says WE'RE ACTUALLY WORKING CURRENTLY WITH OUR FIRST NATIONS WITH OUR [INDISCERNIBLE] ACCORD, COVID HAS HIGHLIGHTED RELATING TO MENTAL HEALTH, AND AN ACCORD WITH THE FRIENDSHIP CENTRES AND THE MUNICIPALITY AND THE DISTRICT SERVICES BOARD, WE ARE WORKING ON AN ADDICTIONS TREATMENT.

Nam says JENNIFER, WHAT DO YOU THINK BOTH PARTIES GET, ALL PARTIES GET, WHEN THEY DO WORK IN THIS COLLABORATIVE MANNER?

Jennifer says ACTUALLY, IT IS ABOUT BREAKING DOWN THE SILOS. I THINK THAT THAT IS SO IMPORTANT. THE SILOS ARE CREATED, BUREAUCRACIES ARE DIFFICULT, ANYTHING WE CAN DO TO ACTUALLY BREAK DOWN BUREAUCRACIES TO MAKE CHANGE FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE ACTUALLY LIVING IN COMMUNITIES IS IMPORTANT FOR EVERYONE.

Nam says MAYOR LAWRANCE, YOU'VE SAID WHEN MUNICIPALITIES AREN'T ABLE TO DELIVER ADEQUATE SERVICES TO INDIGENOUS PEOPLE, IT CAN ENCOURAGE RACISM IN TOWN. WHAT DID YOU MEAN BY THAT?

Doug says I THINK JENNIFER MADE THAT COMMENT EARLIER TOO WHEN WE WERE TALKING ABOUT PEOPLE ARE ENTITLED TO LIVE WHERE THEY CHOOSE. WE HAVE TREMENDOUS OPPORTUNITIES TO [INDISCERNIBLE] LIVING HERE BUT WE ALSO MANY OF THE PEOPLE SUFFERING MENTAL HEALTH AND ADDICTIONS AND END UP ON STREETS OF SIOUX LOOKOUT OR LOOKING TO FEED THEIR ADDICTIONS. WHEN WE HAVE SUCH A LARGE PROPORTION, 99 percent OF THE PEOPLE ARE IDENTIFIABLY INDIGENOUS, THE LACK OF SERVICES IT MAKES IT EASY FOR THOSE WHO WOULD WANT TO GO THAT ROUTE IS SAY GET THOSE PEOPLE OUT OF HERE, SEND THEM HOME, AND RACIALIZE A PROBLEM THAT IS A SYSTEMIC PROBLEM, NOT A RACIAL PROBLEM.

Nam says ARE INDIGENOUS PEOPLE JUDGED BY INDIGENOUS AND NON-INDIGENOUS PEOPLE FOR LEAVING THEIR RESERVES AND SETTLING IN CITIES AND TOWNS? MAYOR LANDRY, I'D LIKE TO ASK YOU THAT.

A satellite view shows the location of Shuniah, east of Thunder Bay.

Wendy says WELL, I THINK IT DEPENDS ON YOUR COMMUNITY AND I THINK IT'S BASED ON RELATIONSHIPS. YOU KNOW, THE FOSTERING RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN OUR MUNICIPALITIES AND OUR FIRST NATIONS IS KEY AND I THINK THAT'S REALLY SPECIFIC TO THE AREAS AND THE PEOPLE THAT ARE INVOLVED, BUT FOR MYSELF, I MOVED TO THE CITY BACK IN THE '80S TO GO TO SCHOOL AND, YOU KNOW, TO NAVIGATE AND FIND YOUR WAY AROUND A LARGE CITY AT A YOUNG AGE IS DIFFICULT, BUT IT REALLY DOES DEPEND ON THE DYNAMICS OF EACH COMMUNITY AND WHETHER OR NOT THAT IS SOMETHING THAT SOMEONE EXPERIENCES.

Nam says JENNIFER, HAVING WORKED WITH THE FRIENDSHIP CENTRES FOR A WHILE NOW, DO YOU SEE THAT WITH THE PEOPLE THAT COME IN TO ACCESS THOSE SERVICES?

Jennifer says ACTUALLY, I THINK THAT IT'S SOMETHING THAT WE'VE TALKED ABOUT HERE IN OUR LOCAL COMMUNITY, THAT HOME IS WHERE YOU LIVE AND IF YOU HAVE YOUR FAMILY WITH YOU AND YOU ACTUALLY FEEL A PART OF THE COMMUNITY, THEN YOU ARE HOME. SO THIS CONCEPT OF WHERE PEOPLE BELONG IS ACTUALLY A FALSE CONVERSATION. SURE, THERE'S ISSUES ALL OVER AMONGST OUR PEOPLE, AND, AGAIN, THAT DISADVANTAGE SPREADS FAR AND WIDE. BUT THE SYSTEMIC ISSUES THAT EXIST WITHIN CANADA ARE CONTRIBUTING TO THE PERPETUATION OF THAT. OUR JOB AS FRIENDSHIP CENTRES IS TO HAVE PEOPLE ACTUALLY FEEL AT HOME NO MATTER WHERE THEY ARE, NO MATTER IF THEY'RE IN THEIR HOME TERRITORY, ON A RESERVE, OR ON A FIRST NATION OR IF THEY'RE IN THE URBAN OR RURAL SETTINGS THAT FRIENDSHIP CENTRES EXIST.

Nam says MAYOR LAWRANCE, YOU'VE MENTIONED THAT COVID-19 HAS ACTUALLY FORCED YOU TO COLLABORATE MORE WITH FIRST NATIONS IN SURROUNDING AREAS. IN WHAT WAY?

Doug says IN TERMS OF THE FIRST NATIONS TO THE NORTH HAVE REALLY GONE INTO A LOCKDOWN FOR COVID. THERE'S LOTS OF COOPERATION BECAUSE OF THE... ALL THE TRAVEL BACK AND FORTH, AND WE HAVE BIWEEKLY CALLS WITH THE CHIEFS OF THE FIRST NATION FRIENDSHIP ACCORD THAT WE HAVE. PUBLIC HEALTH, MEDICAL OFFICERS OF HEALTH IN THE NORTHERN FIRST NATIONS BUT THEY HAVE HEALTH SERVICES. SO THROUGH OUR PUBLIC HEALTH AGENCY, THERE'S BEEN A LOT OF COLLABORATION THERE.

Jennifer says DURING COVID-19, FRIENDSHIP CENTRES ACTUALLY DIDN'T CLOSE. WE CONTINUE TO PROVIDE SERVICES ENTIRELY THROUGH THIS PROCESS. AND SO FOR A LOT OF MUNICIPALITIES, WE BECAME A RESOURCE TO MUNICIPALITIES IN TERMS OF BEING ABLE TO HELP AND KNOW WHAT WAS GOING... WHAT WAS HAPPENING TO THE PEOPLE ON THE GROUND LEVEL.

Nam says THAT MUST HAVE BEEN CHALLENGING TO DO. HOW DID YOU DO IT?

Jennifer says ACTUALLY, WE DID IT, AS MOST COMPANIES DID, REMOTE. WE INSTANTLY GOT ON SOCIAL MEDIA. WE MADE PHONE CALLS. WE DID PORCH VISITS. WE DELIVERED FOOD. WE DELIVERED CULTURAL ACTIVITIES ONLINE. HERE AT OUR FRIENDSHIP CENTRE IN FORT ERIE, WE MADE TWICE WEEKLY PHONE CALLS TO EVERY COMMUNITY MEMBER. WE RUN A FULLY LICENSED DAY CARE, WHICH IS FOR INDIGENOUS AND NON-INDIGENOUS FAMILIES. SO WE JUST INCLUDED THEM IN OUR RESPONSIBILITY. AND WE JUST CONTINUED ON. WE DID WHAT MADE SENSE. WE TALKED TO PEOPLE THROUGH MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES. THERE WERE NOT A LOT OF SERVICES RUNNING DURING COVID-19, BUT WE WERE. AND PEOPLE WERE CALLING US WHEN THEY NEEDED HELP AND WE WERE RESPONDING, AND WE'RE NOT THE ONLY FRIENDSHIP CENTRE. THIS IS WHAT THE FRIENDSHIP CENTRE MOVEMENT DID ACROSS THE PROVINCE.

Nam says MAYOR LANDRY, HOW COULD THIS AGREEMENT THAT WAS SIGNED TODAY IMPROVE DUTY TO CONSULT.

Wendy says WE HAVE MUTUALLY SHARED GOALS, BENEFICIAL GOALS FOR ALL OF OUR FUTURE, AND I THINK THE DUTY TO CONSULT IS TRIGGERED ON MANY DIFFERENT LEVELS AND FOR OUR MUNICIPALITIES, A LOT OF OUR ELECTED OFFICIALS DON'T UNDERSTAND THE DUTY TO CONSULT AND HAVE NOT FOUND THEMSELVES PREVIOUSLY IN A POSITION WHERE THEY HAD TO CONSULT WITH FIRST NATIONS ON PROJECTS OR PROGRAMS THAT THEY WERE PUTTING FORWARD, AND WITH THE RELATIONSHIP BUILDING AND THE FOSTERING THOSE RELATIONSHIPS IS KEY TO BRINGING THOSE MUNICIPALITIES AND OUR FIRST NATIONS TOGETHER SO THAT THERE'S AN UNDERSTANDING BETWEEN THE TWO ON WHETHER IT'S RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT OR PUTTING IN A CULVERT IN OUR MUNICIPALITIES, THAT THE FIRST NATIONS AND THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN OUR MUNICIPALITIES IS MUTUAL UNDERSTANDING AND IT ALSO BRINGS FORWARD THE OPPORTUNITY FOR NOT ONLY RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT BUT MEANINGFUL JOBS BETWEEN OUR MUNICIPALITIES, THE PROJECT DEVELOPERS, AND OUR FIRST NATIONS PEOPLE WHO HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY FOR WORK AND AN OPPORTUNITY TO PARTICIPATE IN THE PROCESS, WHETHER IT'S THROUGH THE ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT PROCESS OR WHAT HAVE YOU. BUT IT BRINGS THE COMMUNITIES TOGETHER. WE DON'T WANT TO SEE A FORCED RELATIONSHIP. WE LIKE TO SEE PEOPLE BEING FRIENDLY AND BEING FRIENDS BEFORE THEY ACTUALLY BECOME FRIENDS. I THINK THAT'S THE APPROACH TO TAKE. BUT I THINK WITH MUNICIPALITIES UNDER THE DUTY TO CONSULT, STEPPING OUT OF THEIR COMFORT ZONE AND GOING AND MEETING THE FIRST NATIONS LEADERS THAT ARE THEIR NEIGHBOURS IS THE STEPS IN MAKING SURE THAT THOSE RELATIONSHIPS COME TOGETHER AND UNDER THAT DUTY... IT MAY BE UNDER A FORCED SITUATION BUT HOPEFULLY IT BLOSSOMS INTO SOMETHING FURTHER AND THAT BRINGS THE TWO COMMUNITIES TOGETHER FOR EVERYTHING MOVING FORWARD.

Nam says MAYOR LAWRANCE?

Doug says I CAN'T... I HAVE TO AGREE WITH EVERYTHING THAT JENNIFER AND WENDY HAVE SAID. WE ARE ENGAGED WITH THE FRIENDSHIP CENTRE IN THAT THE FRIENDSHIP CENTRE HAS DELIVERED JOINT PROGRAMS THERE. THE FRIENDSHIP CENTRE IS ENGAGED IN RUNNING SUPPORTIVE HOUSING PROJECTS THAT WE FACILITATED. SO WE HAVE AN EXCELLENT RELATIONSHIP AND WE WANT TO STEP IT UP THROUGH THIS AGREEMENT.

The caption changes to "Producer: Harrison Lowman, @harrisonlowman."

Nam says I'LL LET YOU HAVE THE LAST WORD BECAUSE WE'VE RUN OUT OF TIME. WE APPRECIATE ALL OF YOUR INSIGHT. IT'S BEEN SUCH AN EDUCATIONAL CONVERSATION. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR ALL OF YOUR TIME. WE APPRECIATE IT.

All the guests say THANK YOU.

Watch: Strengthening Municipal and Indigenous Ties