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OPSEU stands with Wauzhushk Onigum Nation

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OPSEU President Warren “Smokey” Thomas is lending his voice to the efforts of Chief Chris Skead and Wauzhushk Onigum Nation (WON) to regain its charitable casino license.

Indigenous communities have the right to full control over their communities, economies and cultural traditions, says Thomas.

“The economic gap faced by many Indigenous communities is unacceptable,” Thomas said.  “The income and hundreds of jobs that the casino provided helped ease poverty and helped to pave the road to self-determination.”

“If reconciliation means anything to the Ontario government, then Wauzhushk Onigum Nation should get the license it deserves.”

WON had the first ever charitable casino in Ontario – Golden Eagle that operated from 1992-2002 when Ontario took away its license.  WON has since tried all legal means to get the license back and expand the facility into a full casino with slots.  All such efforts have failed, and in 2011, Ontario granted a license to Gateway Casinos, a big gaming consortia from the U.S.

Wauzhushk Onigum Nation (WON) launched legal action against the Ontario Government, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) and Gateway Casinos, after being unjustly left out of casino gaming in the Kenora area. The hearing will take place April 8 to 11, in the Divisional Court in Toronto.

“Rather than promoting reconciliation, the actions of the Ontario government and OLG perpetuate the old colonial practice of changing the rules as soon as Indigenous communities are rising,” declares Krista Maracle, Chair of OPSEU Indigenous Circle.  “It is time for this injustice to stop.”