Aundeck Omni Kaning chief clarifies taxation issues

To the Expositor:

This letter is in response to your article in The Manitoulin Expositor, ‘AOK First Nation begins touchy process of settling tax issues.’

For clarification purposes, “the quote indicating that the properties purchased after 1998 are subject to municipal taxes, while the properties before are not” are in reference to and should be accurately stated. As discussed with the NEMI mayor and council, the 1990 Land Agreement provided First Nations with an opportunity to purchase land adjacent to the First Nation with emphasis that these lands would not be subject to taxation. This was a major deal breaker throughout the negotiations that the First Nations would be not subjected to any tax.

In this meeting, I commented on the fact that the Mike Harris government unilaterally, with no consultation from First Nations, changed legislation. As a result, we fought the province and Manitoulin Municipal Association adamantly that we would pay no tax. The stance to try to charge tax dearly violates the 1990 deal and the inherent rights of our people. The 1990 Unsold Surrendered Lands Claim was promoted by the province as the first modern day treaty they signed with us.

The province is paying taxes because they know the agreement that was signed in 1990 and their actions violate the 1990 agreement. What was being talked about to get around concerns on the taxes and land issues was reciprocal agreements such as service agreements such that if a First Nation needed municipal services, the First Nation would enter into a service agreement (fees) and vice versa with the municipality. This is a bigger issue than just local taxes. We have “rights” to never be taxed.

Unless by self-government, a First Nation enters into a municipal style arrangement and chooses to pay taxes internally or otherwise, First Nations cannot be taxed by other governments. We took a political stand against the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) and today we are not paying it. What you do on this issue has far reaching implications to all First Nations.

Chief Patsy Corbiere
Aundeck Omni Kaning First Nation