Minister praises Pikwakanagan, County relationship
Sean Chase/Daily Observer Chief Kirby Whiteduck, of the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan, is joined at a reception by Ontario minister of Indigenous relations and reconciliation David Zimmer (right) and Renfrew County Warden Jennifer Murphy. The minister visited the First Nation Friday to congratulate Pikwakanagan and the county on their historic memorandum of understanding.
GOLDEN LAKE – Ontario’s minister of Indigenous relations and reconciliation praised the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan and the County of Renfrew Friday for advancing their historical memorandum of understanding.
During his first visit to the First Nation community, David Zimmer congratulated Pikwakanagan and the county for pursuing common goals and exploring those synergies that could yield economic development opportunities and successes for both. The foundation for such a common venture, the minister noted, was the signing of the 2015 memorandum.
“This is a real example of reconciliation and communities working together to get a much better place and in a really good way,” Zimmer said during a reception at the Elders Lodge.
The memorandum of understanding launched action such as the immediate formation of a working group that was to identify areas for collaboration in which both parties will adopt a unified position on major issues such as Highway 17, which the county is promoting as a national-building exercise supported by federal infrastructure dollars, and the development of the CP Rail trail corridor. Additionally, the group will promote Algonquin training opportunities through Enterprise Renfrew County, co-operation to enhance Algonquin business and economic development opportunities and the drafting of an ongoing work plan to deal with other issues identified by the members.
The memorandum, which does not create legally enforceable or binding obligations, has been noticed at Queen’s Park as a positive step, added Zimmer. Accompanied by assistant deputy minister Grant Wedge, Zimmer announced $10,000 towards developing any initiatives stemming from the memorandum and talks between the county and Pikwakanagan.
“When I get up here and I see what is actually going on it puts a whole new dimension to the dynamic,” he added.
The memorandum also created a frame work in which Pikwakanagan and the county agreed to work together on other key issues of common interest, such as infrastructure, economic development, training and business development. Renfrew County Warden Jennifer Murphy acknowledged that this partnership continues to flourish and grow.
“Our commitment to having a united position on these issues works to the betterment of both Renfrew County and the Algonquins of Pikwakangan First Nation,” she said. “Days like today demonstrate that this collaboration between our two communities provide opportunities that will ensure the continued prosperity of all persons and will further strengthen the ties between us.”
Earlier in the day, Zimmer met with Chief Kirby Whiteduck and members of the Pikwakanagan council at the administration office. Whiteduck said those discussions were positive adding he appreciated the minister searching for ways to assist Pikwakanagan so they can build a stronger, more secure future.
“It looks like we are going to continue to work together for our mutual benefit,” said Whiteduck.