Last Thursday, leaders from Northern Ontario’s indigenous and non-indigenous communities prepared a historic framework that will be used to bring communities, industry, and government together with a common goal to achieve sustainable and shared economic development prosperity.
The Transforming Ontario’s North (TON) Summit used a grassroots approach to engage northern leaders and experts in industry, economics, policy, government, and education.
The three-day event distilled a broad spectrum of experience, traditional knowledge, and multiple disciplines to produce a statement of common purpose and a framework accord.
The statement and accord will be shared with communities across Northern Ontario, as well as the federal and provincial governments, in the very near term and will be used to build consensus and collaboration on northern development.
“The path forward is now much clearer and comprehensive,” said Cochrane Mayor Peter Politis, whose community hosted the summit.
“What has come out of the summit is visionary and it is inclusive,” he noted.
“We have every confidence that, as we bring the statement and accord to other community leaders, support will grow and the momentum we need to achieve our economic development goals will be achieved.”
Among the key statements coming out of the summit is a foundational principle that consultation (on economic development) with indigenous communities is not enough.
Rather, indigenous and non-indigenous communities must walk together on the basis of friendship, respect, trust, and reconciliation.
The summit also built consensus on addressing energy and human resources needs that will be integral to future northern economic development.
Meanwhile, the accord is unique in that it takes a much longer multi- generational view, Mayor Politis added.
The framework is truly inclusionary, and designed to build consensus and momentum as future TON summits are held across Northern Ontario.