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MATAWA YOUTH DELEGATION RETURNS FROM INAUGURAL PARTICIPATION AT THE UNITED NATIONS PERMANENT FORUM ON INDIGENOUS ISSUES

MEDIA RELEASE

Monday, April 29, 2024 | FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MATAWA YOUTH DELEGATION RETURNS FROM INAUGURAL PARTICIPATION AT THE UNITED NATIONS PERMANENT FORUM ON INDIGENOUS ISSUES

THUNDER BAY, ON – Led by Chief Sheri Taylor of Ginoogaming First Nation—a delegation of five (5) Matawa First Nations youth returned from the Twenty-third Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) in New York City, the traditional territories of the Lenape People. They attended the forum’s second week from April 22 – 25, 2024. It was the first time Matawa First Nations Management (MFNM) participated in international activities.  The youth delegation included:  Leila Mendowegan (Aroland), Alyssa Lentz (Eabametoong, Mallory Solomon (Constance Lake), Laurenn Coaster (Marten Falls) and Jordynn Mendowegan (Ginoogaming). Participation was supported by both the MFNM Board of Directors and Matawa Chiefs Council.

 On April 23, the youth had an opportunity to meet with Bob Rae, the current Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations (UN) at the Permanent Mission of Canada to the United Nations. Discussed was Ambassador Rae’s experience working with the Matawa Chiefs Council from 2014-2018 and his current role. At the UNPFII, the youth also attended a side-event organized by the Global Indigenous Youth Forum: “Calls to Action for Safeguarding Seven Generations in Times of Food, Social and Ecological Crises.”

On April 25, the youth made a statement at the interactive dialogue between Indigenous Peoples and member states. The statement was made under the guiding theme: Enhancing Indigenous Peoples’ right to self-determination in the context of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and emphasizing the voices of Indigenous youth. Some of the issues raised in the statement included:

  • The Ogoki and Long Lake Water Diversions, signed through an agreement between Canada and the US in the 1940’s;
  • The incentivization of extractive industries and online mining staking;
  • The encroachment on our lands by the Métis in Ontario; and
  • First Nation communities experiencing 3rd world conditions while having to deal with a state (and extractive industry) that does not want to address these conditions first

The two calls they made to Canada and the UNPFII were: (1) to secure a meaningful place for Indigenous youth who will be affected by proposed development in the mineral-loaded area called the ‘Ring of Fire’ and, (2) for Canada and the UNPFII to mandate extractive industries and Ontario to ensure that 3rd world conditions are  addressed (in a measurable way) in tandem or before development takes place.

While at the UNPFII, the delegation had an opportunity to follow human rights dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (with respect to annual review of progress of the implementation of general recommendation No. 39) and the future work of the UNPFII, including issues considered by the Economic and Social Council, the outcome document of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples and emerging issues.

Currently, MFNM is registered with the UN as an Indigenous Peoples Organization (IPO) and is currently working towards consultative status with the UN’s Economic and Social Council.

Quotes:

“Once in a lifetime opportunity/experience and I’ve learned so many things and met such huge hearted people. I can’t wait to see other youth experience this in the future.”
—Jordynn Mendowegan, Ginoogaming First Nation Youth Delegate

“Making new connections is always the highlight of any trip I make. I learned so much from the other Matawa youth who attended during my time at the permanent forum.”
—Mallory Solomon, Constance Lake First Nation Youth Delegate

“Attending the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) was an inspiring and empowering experience that reiterated the significance of Indigenous voices on the global stage. It was a testament to the resilience and strength of Indigenous communities across the world. I am grateful for the opportunity to have travelled with Chief Sheri Taylor and other youth delegates, knowing that we were advocating for our rights and the future of our communities.”
—Alyssa Lentz, Eabametoong First Nation Youth Delegate

“I’m very thankful and honoured to be given the opportunity to attend the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. This experience has changed me greatly. It gave me courage and motivation to continue striving forward to make our communities better for the future generations.”
—Laurenn Coaster, Marten Falls First Nation Youth Delegate

“This was an amazing opportunity and an eye-opening experience. As youth being a part of these meetings are very important for our futures and learning about all these important topics and challenges will help us to make change that is best for us and other generations to come.”
—Leila Mendowegan, Aroland First Nation Youth Delegate

“I was grateful and honoured for the opportunity to attend the UN with our youth.  Supporting them and giving them a voice is important and must continue.  It was an opportunity for them (and the UN) to understand the historical contributions of our lands/waters benefitting the Canada/Ontario and USA/New York State governments via the Ogoki and Long Lake (Kenogami) Diversions through Lake Nipigon to Niagara Falls resulting in providing water capacity to run hydro generating stations and international shipping routes on the Great Lakes.  James Bay Treaty No. 9 has been generating revenue 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and our contribution is something our People should be proud of.”
—Chief Sheri Taylor, Ginoogaming First Nation

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For more information, please contact Carol Audet, Communications Manager – Matawa First Nations at (807) 632-9663 or by email at caudet@matawa.on.ca.