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Protesters hold rally to stop the Anishinabek Governance Agreement. Megan Evans CTV Northern Ontario ( Feb 6 2020 )

A group representing some people in the Anishinabek Nation hoped to meet with the Union of Ontario Indians Grand Chief today, and they say they had it confirmed, but in the end, it didn’t happen.

 They are not happy with some aspects of the Anishinabek Nation governance agreement that is to be voted on this month, but when they showed up for their meeting, they say they were denied.

Organizer Johnny Hawk says they were set to meet with the Grand Council Chief, but got the runaround, even after confirming with multiple emails.

“This week, I got five emails already that confirmed for us to meet. So they just reneged on our meeting and this is a red flag for what the future holds under the Self Government Agreement, if our people can’t even talk and meet,” said Hawk.

Protesters from the group say they are trying to tell the Union of Ontario Indians, and their Chiefs and Councils not to enter into the governance agreement because they feel it is not beneficial for them.

“They call it a governance agreement, but it takes away from the local people’s rights and that’s what this protest is about.” said protestor, Del Riley.

Another protester with the group, Susan Hare, said, “The Self Government Agreement they have is not a good one for us, it’s not a good deal. A lot of the things they promise us in that Self Government Agreement, we can already do, under the Indian Act or under our own bylaws in the band. So they’re really not giving us much.” Hare added, “What they are getting though, is a lot.”

The Anishinabek Nation leaders inside the building wouldn’t agree to an interview but they issued a statement that said:

“The proposed Anishinabek Nation governance agreement is an agreement being voted on by Anishinabek Nation citizens. First Nation citizens have the opportunity to exercise their right to vote yes or no – from February 1-29 and May 1-31, 2020, respectively.”

The protesters say they want to put a stop to the self-governing agreement because it’s not reflective of meaningful working relationships with people, and they say this denial of a meeting exemplifies that perfectly.