Open Letter From Chief Mark Hill to Erin McGinn and Will Bouma
DELIVERED BY EMAIL
February 3, 2022
Erin McGinn, Assistant Deputy Minister
Ministry of Finance
Government of Ontario
Will Bouma, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Finance
Ministry of Finance
Government of Ontario
Further to the January 28, 2022, announcement that iGaming Ontario (iGO), established by Ontario under the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), is launching a new licensing process for third-party online gaming operators, beginning April 4, 2022, Six Nations of the Grand River wishes to strongly express its objection to this decision.
Gaming is not new to Six Nations of the Grand River. It’s an activity that Haudenosaunee people have done for centuries; long before European contact; long before Canada was a country; long before Ontario was a province, and certainly long before the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario was established. The same holds true for many of our Indigenous sister nations across Turtle Island.
With the constitutional and inherent right to do so, in July 1996 Six Nations of the Grand River established the Six Nations Gaming Commission to regulate and license gaming in our territory. Since that time, the proceeds from gaming activities have had an incredible socio-economic impact to the benefit of our community—but so much more is possible. As a community, we continuously look to create and expand upon own-source revenue opportunities that fit within our values and vision of self-determination. Gaming is clearly a sector where we assert, and will continue to assert, our jurisdiction and our right to participate. This move by the province to exclude First Nations in the iGaming, and in fact other markets, is unacceptable.
To that end and further to my letter of June 30, 2021 to the Honourable David Lametti, Attorney General of Canada and Minister of Justice, we are disheartened to learn that the Ontario Government has moved forward with its iGaming initiative without first fulfilling its requirement to have meaningful consultation with those First Nations occupying the gaming market.
Millions of dollars have been spent by Government on numerous reports (Penner Report, Royal Commission on Aboriginal People, Ipperwash Inquiry, Truth and Reconciliation Commission). These have carried strong and supported recommendations with respect to government-government relations. I am compelled to remind the provincial and federal governments that First Nations are self-governing and should be respected as such. Yet again, we have been marginalized, and excluded from an economic sector that has, and is, fundamental to our culture and prosperity. Decisions like this are completely contradictory to governments’ continued assertion that they are moving forward with reconciliation.
We no longer believe that Ontario has any interest in resolving these matters through good faith consultations.
Finally, we note that our brother and sisters of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island have also expressed their frustration with your government’s failure to consult and accommodate their concerns. We also understand that our sister Mohawk community, Kahnawà:ke, has expressed their serious concerns about the negative impacts Ontario’s iGaming project will have on the iGaming industry Kahnawà:ke has built over the past 20+ years. We have no doubt that other Indigenous communities will soon follow. We fully support them.
In view of all of these concerns, we demand that Ontario immediately suspend the “launch” of its iGaming project, and any further development of the project, until full and meaningful consultations with affected First Nations and Indigenous communities—including any necessary accommodations are made to ensure their interests are not negatively affected—has been completed.
Chief Mark B. Hill
Six Nations of the Grand River
cc: Six Nations Community
Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke
Mississaugas of Scugog Island
The Honourable Mary Jane McCallum, Senator
The Honourable Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario
The Honourable Doug Downey, Attorney General of Ontario
The Honourable Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance of Ontario
The Honourable Greg Rickford, Minister of Indigenous Affairs Ontario
Larry Brock, MP, Brantford-Brant
Jane Mallen, Assistant Deputy Attorney General of Ontario
Nancy Mudrinic, Associate Deputy Minister, Ministry of Finance of Ontario
Shawn Batise, Deputy Minister, Indigenous Affairs Ontario
Rebecca Ramsarran, Assistant Deputy Minister, Indigenous Affairs Ontario
The Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
The Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada