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.
But in truth it all started many years ahead of sitting at tables and deciding to form an organization, in all the founding members there was a burning desire to represent all the “Forgotten Peoples”, whether they be Metis, Non-status, Status, and Inuit groups living off reserves in Ontario. It was felt that the time had come to become one voice to these peoples. Yes, there were other organizations that represented Metis in Ontario, however they felt it was outside their scope to include the various other groups. Yes these founding members knew it was a hard path ahead, but they were ready to walk this path. It has always been at the heart of OCIP to come together, to bring in those outside and have them be warmed by the fires of Community and Relationship.
So on December 13th, 2006 Ronald E. Swain (Ron), Bradley J. Maggrath (Brad), and Lorraine R.M. Gauthier-Gisborn founded The Ontario Coalition of Aboriginal People (OCAP). Many were added but from this small group the foundation was laid for this great organization. Like with any tree or organization the roots took time, but strong roots were established. So strong were the roots that in November, 2007 CAP or the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples recognized OCAP as the Ontario affiliate of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples. This decision was unanimously ratified by all the delegates of the Congress’ Annual General Assembly.
Time moved on with Strong representatives being added in both the Official Board and the Regions as Governors were elected by the Regions. This showed a great component of OCAP and it relied heavily on the people connection in the regions. So a spirit of “Regional Voices” was always present in OCAPs thinking and this influenced its history at every step. This was a very hard path as it would have been much simpler to just do a poll and make decisions based on the results; however OCAP saw that People in Region 1 have very different concerns then those in Region 9. So yes there were ever similarities in Regions, the differences were what made OCAP strong. So much time, money, etc. was spent to “Go out” to the various regions, communities, etc. for consultation. It must be added that all of this was volunteer driven and very little funds was open to OCAP. But it persisted and grew a repetition for representing all Peoples fairly and with honour.
After many years of bringing the Peoples Wishes forwards OCAP and all the many other Provincial Organizations that Formed CAP started to make much headway. After several important decisions like the “Daniels Decision”, the “Political Accord”, etc. CAP and thereby all of its Provincial Bodies including OCAP were given the mandate to build a future of inclusion for All Indigenous Peoples so within their mandates. So OCIP took the bold decision to include Inuit groups living off reserves in Ontario in its mandate and thereby amend its Name and Directives. So the Ontario Coalition of Aboriginal People (OCAP) name was changed to The Ontario Coalition of Indigenous Peoples (OCIP). This also made it easier to network under the UN Declaration of Indigenous Peoples mandate as well.
Yes, there was a New Name of The Ontario Coalition of Indigenous Peoples (OCIP) but the Spirit and direction was ever the same. Many programs have been added including the Covid-19 Funding & Response, ISET Program, MMIWGs Initiative, etc. and still the many tireless and diligent workers, leaders, etc. within and outside of OCIP work for you our Members, our Sisters and Brothers of now and in the future, etc.
OCIP always remembers that the Future and Possible change is but a second away.