OTTAWA – The Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs should show some manners and reply to his correspondence according to Carol Hughes.

Rising in the House of Commons today, Hughes blasted the Minister for avoiding First Nations when they contact him with their concerns about Bill S-4 and shrugging off request to meet on the issue.

“First Nations in Ontario are concerned with the lack of consultation for any proposed changes to Matrimonial Real Property (MRP),” said Hughes. “What’s more, when they contact the Minister of Indian Affairs to voice their concerns and request meetings to discuss these, they are not even given the courtesy of a response.”

In 2006, the 40 member First Nations of the Anishnabek Nation undertook extensive work to develop a matrimonial real property law that addresses the needs of their communities. Their law follows in the spirit of the recommendations made by Wendy Grant-John, who was hired as Ministerial Representative in 2006.

Chief Shining Turtle of Whitefish River First Nation, who serves as Chair of the United Chiefs and Councils of Mnidoo Mnising (UCCM), has detailed his struggle to communicate with the Minister of Indian Affairs to Hughes, MP for the constituency of Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing which includes the territory governed by the UCCM.

“The Minister of Indian Affairs is not responsive to Chiefs on their concerns for and solutions to MRP,” said Chief Shining Turtle. “Whitefish River has passed its own law and fully intends to exercise its full jurisdiction in this area”

“Not only is the Minister avoiding his responsibility to consult, but he must respond to First Nation representatives like the Chiefs of Ontario and the United Chiefs and Councils of Mnidoo Mnising (UCCM), before any legislative changes are made,” concluded Hughes.