The Spiritual Wisdom of any Tribe or Organization comes through its Elders,
But Its Power and Voice comes through its Chief.
Who OCIP is!
“Who am I” is always the most important question that anyone can ask one self, it is the same with any organization, tribe, or people. Who we are as a group is not important, because the idea of just being a name will never build us into anything more than a social club. But who we are as a People is the more important question. OCIP has not had all the same opportunities as much larger Metis groups or even other Indigenous groups. What we lack in opportunities we make up for in unity and devotion.
The Chiefs, Board, Elders, Youth Reps, and Regional Governors all have worked with these limited resources to represent all Metis, Non-Status, Status and Inuit living off Reserve in Ontario. The core of OCIP can be summed up in the statement “Forgotten Peoples No More”. This is the founding belief and OCIP has not strayed one bit from this goal and statement. OCIP has set itself up as “A Voice” for the Metis, Non-Status, Status and Inuit living off Reserve in Ontario. We have done this by not just being an advocacy group but rather a place where the people can stand tall and be proud of their heritage.
It has not been an easy road; however OCIP has built itself up to be a place of strength, pride, and most of all wisdom. It is a place where our teachings are at the center of all aspects of our actions and where the Peoples needs are always considered first before anything else. It has been a struggle to build this into the very fabric of both the Organization and our actions, but we feel confident that we have done a good job.
OCIP always is working to bring Metis, Non-Status, Status and Inuit living off Reserve in Ontario together for we all are stronger, wiser, and more compassionate together than apart.
OCIPS History is as varied as its people or members. We have always had many strong connections to other various Metis, Non-status, Status, and Inuit groups living off reserves in Ontario. We were founded from members of these outstanding groups, who became our Board and Governors in the nine Regions that make up Ontario. The strength of OCIP is that our History Guides us, but does not control us. We build upon the strengths and victories of the past so that all Metis, Non-status, Status, and Inuit groups living off reserves in Ontario can raise their heads high because their future is brighter and their past is secure. All our greatest victories might be done by people, however they were always done for the Peoples.
OCIPS Mandate or Primary goal “is to be a political voice for status and non-status Indians off reserve and Métis residing in Ontario; and to carry out its role as an affiliate member of the Congress of Aboriginal People (CAP), the national organization which is the political advocate for Indigenous peoples living off reserve; and to ensure a special relationship exists between the government of Canada and the OCIP constituency respecting section 91(24) of the Constitution Act 1867 and seek collaboration and coordination with the Government of Ontario”. In 2018 it was noted that there was many Inuit groups living off reserves in Ontario so this group has been added to the Mandate or Primary Goal as well.
OCIPS Governance has always been based on an outer circle of Regional Governors (9 in total) whom act as both the liaisons and managing Governors of these Regions. Their main role is to carry the desires of the Regions to the Chief, Vice Chief, Provincial Elder, Youth Representative and the Board, who act as the day to day managers of OCIP. Also these Governors are to take the information, accomplishments, programs, etc. to the Members in their specified Regions. It is the Role of the Chief to represent OCIP in all matters related to its Mandate or goals. Also it is the Chiefs role to be OCIPS active voice on a National Level as a Representative on The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP) Board.
The Importance of Reclaiming Our Indigenous Heritage.
OCIP believes that we as Metis, Non-status, Status, and Inuit groups living off reserves in Ontario not only have a deep seeded or deep seated need to reclaim our Heritage, but it is in fact the very key for our future generations to unlock their fullest potential. This might sound extreme or meaningless to some, but at our cores we know this is the truth. Our people need healing and we find it within our Spirituality and Traditions. It can be felt in the beating drum, the songs, dances, and prayers, etc. of ceremonies and festivals. Its wisdom is in our stories, pictures, customs, and languages, etc. We instinctively know that we must remember and hold sacred these traditions for in them is the ways forward. The path before us will not be one of ease for so much has been forgotten, but the rediscovering of these lost secrets is what we are called to do. OCIP has and will always be there to give the tools to reclaiming our Indigenous Heritage.
How we Reclaim our Heritage.
The path to reclaiming our Indigenous Heritage is really based on coming together AND sharing. Stories are the starting point. It has always been OCIPS way of being. It was noted long ago that being a voice for Metis, Non-status, Status, and Inuit groups living off reserves in Ontario has more power if, you also have the stories behind these actions. A great Spokesperson once pointed out that the Medicine Wheel is only able to heal if you understand its meanings and these meanings were always expressed best by our stories and songs. So coming together and sharing is the beginning, and then comes the spark of interest. After this point comes the need to search. This search will led the searcher to many elders or teachers and given time the searcher will become the teacher to others. The ember of wisdom is always passed this way; in fact this is how Elders have gained wisdom throughout our history. It is OCIPS greatest prayer to the Great Creator that it will be a place where this takes place and by this our Indigenous Spirituality, Culture and Heritage, etc. grows into a great campfire, where all Members stand around feeling proud at being “Indigenous People”.
The Spiritual beliefs, traditions, ceremonies, etc. are of the greatest importance to OCIP. That has been set forth in the UN (United Nations) Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and by the Government of Canada, in whom signed onto this declaration that “Indigenous peoples have the right to manifest, practice, develop and teach their spiritual and religious traditions, customs and ceremonies; the right to maintain, protect, and have access in privacy to their religious and cultural sites; the right to the use and control of their ceremonial objects; and the right to the repatriation of their human remains”. This has always been the highest calling of OCIP and its People both now and in the future. We believe that when the Great Spirit gave us life, we were to pass these beliefs on.
OCIP has made its Traditions a part of all of its activities. Also it has always been a strong voice of the following UN (United Nations) Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples declaration. “Indigenous peoples have the right to practise and revitalize their cultural traditions and customs. This includes the right to maintain, protect and develop the past, present and future manifestations of their cultures, such as archaeological and historical sites, artifacts, designs, ceremonies, technologies and visual and performing arts and literature”. It holds itself, the Provincial Government, the Canadian Federal Government, via CAP, both Accountable and Proactive in the area of Culture for all Metis, Non-status, Status, and Inuit groups living off reserves in Ontario and in Canada.
OCIP has always believed that the re-establishment of Metis, Non-status, Status, and Inuit groups Spirituality and Cultural distinctiveness are of little or no use unless OCIP is involved in its Perspective Regions and Communities. It is like being in a fog and hearing a loud voice, but standing still and expecting someone to find you. We must move towards the people and for us this means going out and engaging them. For once a true bond has been established it is not easily broken. Community Involvement, to OCIP does not just mean merely being an Information source, instead its about communication, getting involved, making an impact for all Peoples. Ever the best way that OCIP has found to engage in Community Involvement is by giving all a voice and then creating friendships.
The Strength of Indigenous People is not from what We can do as Individuals, but it is from what we can do Together.
OCIP Board, Regions & Governors
OCIP has been gifted by the Great Creator with Great Compassionate, Diligent and Wise Leaders. They have made it their mission to support and uplift the Metis, Non-status, Status, and Inuit groups living off reserves in Ontario and across Canada, via CAP. They all have built relationships with key people across Ontario and beyond that uplift OCIPS mandates and goals. It must not be forgotten that these Leaders were made not picked. Each brings great skills to all of OCIPS undertakings, but greater than this each brings a sense of duty to uplift in whatever ways they can, the voice and cause of Metis, Non-status, Status, and Inuit groups living off reserves in Ontario.
Events, Projects, & NWMO Initiative
OCIP has been involved in many different projects that are both meaningful and relevant to the needs of all OCIP members. All of these further the Metis, Non-status, Status, and Inuit groups living off reserves in Ontario voice and cause. These projects are most often represented as OCIP events. At these events there are many meetings, actions, initiatives that are taking place, so for ease OCIP has broken them down both by an Events Page AND a specific Projects Page. So for a brief listing of Events see this Events Page, but for a more overall and concise view of Projects please see this Project page. Lastly, OCIP has a long standing relationship with Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) so we have given them their own NWMO Page to refer to.
Events of OCIP are throughout the 9 Regions and they are packed with various different initiatives for the Members of OCIP, like Regional Meetings, Project Discussions, Feasts, Gatherings, Drumming, Cultural and/or Spirituality Training, etc. So there might be a meeting for Missing, Murdered, Indigenous Women, & Girls (MMIWG) as an example, but the same meeting will invariably spill over into other areas of concern for Metis, Non-status, Status, and Inuit groups living off reserves in Ontario. So check out the Events Page often, for you never know until you attend whats going on and who you might meet. The Events are as follows:
OCIP Projects are the building blocks of OCIPS identity. For what we put our hands, time, efforts, money, etc. to shows our core beliefs. It has been a long standing belief of the OCIP leadership that they wanted to be more than just a news source for its members. Instead it had to get out into its Regions or Communities to “get things done”. So education, spiritual practices, ceremonies, traditional enrichment, etc. have been taken on as its projects. Yes there will always be a business or passing on of information component, but most of our Projects will be about “Getting Involved “ in what OCIPS Membership and/or Leadership believe is important.
OCIPS basic Idea and model of “Getting Involved“, was instrumental in leading to the partnership with the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO). Some might argue that it might be better to not be involved. However, OCIP has always believed it is better to be at the table then to wish things away. This proactive approach has benefited both OCIP and the NWMO. We together have built a framework of trust, friendship, knowledge and most of all Respect that both now and in the far future will protect Mother Earth. For OCIP being at the table is not some financial endeavour, instead it has been about what can We Do to Protect the Earth and the NWMO believes this as well.
Together We are Stronger
OCIP and in fact this website’s final conclusion is that “We are Stronger Together”. It has been a guiding principal of all Indigenous People, that one call in the wilderness is beautiful; however you need many to make a forest. It is the same for any Group, Organization, etc. One voice might hold your attention for a moment, but many will capture your thoughts, imagination, etc. OCIP is not any single person or even a small group of individuals, it is made up of many people and this makes us strong. We believe that greatness is not just held in our Leadership; instead it is shared by all. It makes us strong during the good and bad times; it makes us able to face the past and the future with equal resolve. So join with us and you too can be strengthened by OCIP.
In the Spirit of being stronger together we have found many affiliations, sharing opportunities, friendships that make us stronger. These Affiliations have been forged because we all believe that to make this Province, Country, World, etc. Better for Indigenous Peoples we all must stand up together with one voice and say that we all have much to offer and the Old ways of the Past must never be forgotten. For in fact they make us wiser and this wisdom has taught us that together we are all made whole and stronger.