Thank you, Madam Chair, for the opportunity to participate today. My comments will follow my written submission, which I understand was circulated last week.
Anti-religious discrimination in Canada has not been confined to any one religious community, and such incidents cannot be considered to be of greater or lesser significance based simply on which religious community is targeted.
While it is unfortunate that motion 103 highlighted one religious community, the motion did spark national debate and provided a mandate for this committee that goes beyond the concerns of or for any one religious community.
I will set aside comment on the use of the uncertain term “Islamophobia” except to suggest that the concern of this committee ought to be in regard to mistreatment of people from any and all religious communities. Islam is not a race. Muslims and people in any other religious community are from a variety of races. My comments will address the committee's study in regard to mistreatment of people based on their religion and reducing systemic discrimination based on religion.
Canada is a nation with a history steeped in religious tension, religious accommodation, and the development of robust political, legal, and constitutional principles in regard to freedom of religion, including prohibitions on discrimination based on religion.
A brief history of that religious tension and accommodation is set out in paragraphs 8 to 16 of my written submission, particularly noting the Constitution Act, 1867, did not assign responsibility for religion to either the federal or provincial governments, although both jurisdictions impact on religion. The federal government assumed a role in regard to religion through its criminal law and taxation powers. The provinces, through constitutional jurisdiction over civil rights, enacted human rights legislation that includes recognition of religious rights to belief, association, assembly, teaching, practice, and worship.
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms was included in the Constitution Act, 1982. The charter applies to all levels of government—federal, provincial, territorial, municipal, school boards, other government agencies—and Canadians.
The first freedom in the charter is freedom of conscience and religion.
In decisions on charter cases, the Supreme Court of Canada has affirmed several pre-charter legal concepts in regard to freedom of religion and religious accommodation, which are briefly described in paragraphs 17 to 20 of my written submission. In the charter, freedom of religion is intimately connected with the freedoms that follow in section 2.
Religion is also a stated ground on which discrimination is prohibited under section 15, equality rights. Section 27 requires the charter to “be interpreted in a manner consistent with the...multicultural heritage of Canadians”, which necessarily means a multi-religious heritage as well.
The Supreme Court has asserted a robust definition of freedom of religion that aligns with the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, stating:
||A truly free society is one which can accommodate a wide variety of beliefs, diversity of tastes and pursuits, customs and codes of conduct.... The essence of the concept of freedom of religion is the right to entertain such religious beliefs as a person chooses, the right to declare religious beliefs openly and without fear of hindrance or reprisal, and the right to manifest religious belief by worship and practice or by teaching and dissemination.
The court continues:
||Freedom in a broad sense embraces both the absence of coercion and constraint, and the right to manifest beliefs and practices. Freedom means that, subject to such limitations as are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others, no one is to be forced to act in a way contrary to his beliefs or his conscience.
The right applies to individuals, groups, and institutions because religion is practised both individually and in community.
Canada does not have a doctrine of separation of church and state, a constitutional concept in the U.S.A. The Supreme Court has ruled that the Canadian state is to be neutral in regard to religion, not permitted to act as arbiter of religious beliefs or to favour one religion over another. Nor is government permitted to require no religion in its relationship with Canadians. All Canadians are constitutionally welcome to participate in Canadian life from the perspective or world view that informs the way they choose to live, without fear of mistreatment or punishment for doing so.
Statistics Canada confirms that our nation's largest identifiable religious community comprises simply the largest minority religious community in the country. Catholics, including Roman Catholics, comprise under 40% of Canadians. We are a nation of minorities.
Data on hate crimes from 2015 notes that 35% of reported incidents were motivated by anti-religious bias. Of anti-religious incidents, 37% were directed against the Jewish community, which comprises 1.1% of the Canadian population, and 34% were directed against the Muslim community, which comprises 3.2% of the Canadian population.
This brief historical tour and commentary is offered in a context expressed by a Mi'kmaq friend. Look back to learn how the issue has been considered in the past, assess the status today, and then look forward seven generations to consider the future impact of actions taken today. Looking forward seven generations would take us from Canada 150 to Canada 300. If that seems a stretch, at least look to Canada 200—which will take place within the lifetimes of many in this room—rather than be overly concerned about scheduled federal elections in 2019 or 2023.
The following recommendations are made in the spirit of the Constitution Act, 1867's provision that the federal government “make Laws for the Peace, Order, and good Government of Canada”; the Constitution Act, 1982's description of Canada as “a free and democratic society”; and a whole-of-government approach.
Parliamentarians are encouraged to engage openly with people of various religious beliefs, and this includes connecting with faith-based organizations in the community and those participating in the process of policy development.
Continue to protect. Remove from Bill its clause 14, the proposal to remove section 176 from the Criminal Code. Section 176 protects the ability of religious officiants and congregations to celebrate religious services without threat, interference, or disruption. If the Criminal Code did not already contain such a provision, adding it would be the kind of recommendation anticipated from this committee.
Retain clause 30 of Bill , the proposal to remove section 296, the Criminal Code's blasphemy section. Blasphemy laws in other nations have led to persecution of religious and non-religious minorities, counter to the values of a free and democratic society. In Canada, all beliefs and practices, religious and non-religious, must be open to critical evaluation and peaceful dialogue, debate, and dissension.
Retain Criminal Code provisions dealing with hate propaganda and with mischief relating to religious property.
Move from protection to promotion. Seek opportunities to educate Canadians about our constitutional and legislated positions on religious freedom. It is important to move from the protection of rights to the promotion of understanding rights.
Ensure religious representatives are participants in appropriate government activities, including public events and situations such as donation matching for emergency disaster relief. Continue working with religious organizations whose work provides public benefit. Maintain and develop appropriate historical markers that recognize the contribution of religious individuals and communities to the development of the nation. Continue to collect and share data in regard to religious observance by Canadians.
The Government of Canada is encouraged to hold a first ministers conference with an agenda committed to the promotion of religious freedom.
The Government of Canada is encouraged to establish guidelines that facilitate faith-based activities across the public service with consistent application within all government departments. Encourage Canadians to continue support of religious and religiously based organizations that provide public benefit, including by means of the personal tax credit.
Continue to provide a well-funded chaplaincy for inmates in Canadian prisons and members of Canada's military. Continue military briefing on religion relevant to their theatres of engagement.
Re-establish the Office of Religious Freedom or a similar dedicated office. Matters of political theology and religious literacy are essential to global engagement.
Re-establish the annual Global Affairs consultations, where representatives from religious and other communities of concern may comment on developing global situations.
Canadians are affected by religious freedom challenges and systemic religious discrimination that happens in Canada and globally, requiring a whole-of-government approach.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
First, I thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak today. I want to let you know, though, that I am not speaking as a representative of the York Region District School Board; the views will be my personal views.
I also want to begin in the spirit of reconciliation, and acknowledge that I sit on the traditional territory of the Algonquins of Ontario. I also recognize that as a later settler to Turtle Island, now called Canada, I owe a lot to the first nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples who looked after this wonderful country I now call home.
As an educator, I want to get to a place where our indigenous students learn in an education system that expressly admits that in the past, for them, education has meant the destruction of their families, their communities, their languages, and their very souls.
I also say that while we think about reconciliation, we cannot simply brush aside the ugly truth of our history, of colonialism, of attempting to whitewash the Indian out of the Indians through the policies, which included the horrors of the residential schools, and generally of our long history of anti-indigenous racism. Our latest census reveals that indigenous Canadians are resilient peoples. They are among our fastest-growing population. Let us lean into the truth of the ugly history of our relationship with indigenous Canadians and look to move toward reconciliation.
About the topic at hand, systemic racism and religious discrimination is an unquestionable reality in today's Canada. I have lots of narratives of individual acts of anti-black racism from my more than 25 years as an educator in both Quebec and Ontario.
One recent example was when, during some professional learning, a participant felt safe enough to say that perhaps black students wouldn't always be in trouble and get suspended if their mothers would stop having children with multiple partners, and if they had male role models in their lives. Another one from the not-so-distant past is what I would call casual anti-black racism. While a staff member was escorting members of the fire department to a secondary school, they passed a group of black students. The staff member said the students shouldn't worry because it wasn't the police.
As I've said, I have lots of narratives of individual acts of racism, but the reality is that systemic racism is not individual; it is structural. It's what the Honourable Murray Sinclair, whom I had the very distinct honour of meeting in 2015, told this very committee. Its the “racism left over after you get rid of the racists”.
Yes, I would like to think about systemic racism and its impact on the black community in general and on black students in particular. First of all, systemic racism stems from values, structures, policies, and practices that result in discrimination against identifiable groups of people.
Let's look back at Canada's immigration laws. Before Donald Moore led 34 representatives from the Negro Citizenship Association on that historic train ride to Ottawa on April 27, 1954, Canada's immigration policy and practice could be described as a perfect example of systemic racism. At the time, Canada allowed entry to subjects from British colonies or former British colonies; however, it's definition of “British subjects” only applied to those from the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Ireland. British subjects from the then-British West Indies, India, Pakistan, and Africa were denied entry to Canada.
This policy, resulting practices, and the attitude that stemmed from it did not specifically say that Canada did not want black or brown people as immigrants, but the result was a systemically racist exclusion from Canada of people who look like me.
I like to tell this story because I consider myself a son of Donald Moore. It was his landmark brief to the then-Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Walter Harris, and his subsequent press conference that resulted in the relaxation of Canada's immigration laws and allowed West Indian nurses and domestics into Canada. My mother was one of those domestics.
This was a perfect example of systemic racism, as are structures, attitudes, and practices that today result in black students being overrepresented in non-academic streams, suspensions and expulsion rates, and high school dropout rates. For black Canadian parents, the school-to-prison pipeline is not just an American reality.
Systemic racism has an insidious nature. As an educator, I've witnessed well-meaning, caring teachers send newly arrived black students to the guidance department to change their destination from academic to applied, because after all, if you come from Jamaica, you couldn't possibly be a candidate for academic English. I would argue that this type of attitude and belief that devalues students is also internalized by students, who come to believe that the academic track is, indeed, not for them. One black student said to me when I started teaching English in Ontario, “Come on, Mr. Roach, you know black kids don't do OAC English”.
That June I took it upon myself to walk through every single OAC exam and what I saw shocked me. In a school with a significant black student population, black students were nearly absent from the exams that determined university entrance. I remember musing to another black teacher that perhaps we were intellectual anomalies who were able to be successful in school and get to university. He was quick to point out to me that almost every black teacher he knew had their primary education outside of Canada.
Back then we used the term “institutionalized racism”. What's interesting is that more than 20 years later, we are having the same debate about the systemic racism in schools and the impact that streaming has on black students.
I know that for most educators the idea that we work in a system that has an established systemic bias to the success of black students seems like an enigma. After all, we see ourselves as caring professionals with good intentions for all our students. Some have called this the “but I'm a good person narrative”. This emotional response is something that we have yet to manage as we look to move forward with the work of eliminating systemic barriers to the success and well-being of all students, including black students and others left at the margins. The great thing is that many school districts are beginning to do the work to develop critical consciousness in staff and to help them recognize that systemic racism exists in our society and in our institutions and that we must take explicit and deliberate actions to combat it.
I know that motion 103 calls for the condemnation of Islamophobia and all forms of religious discrimination. I also know that some seem to question whether we should call the irrational fear or hatred of Muslims “Islamophobia”. First of all, Islamophobia is real, and it's particularly real for Muslim Canadians whose very belonging to this country is sometimes questioned simply because they are Muslims. For my Muslim colleagues in education, it is real when their children are called Osama terrorists at school. It is real when a small minority carry out terrorist acts in the name of Islam and they ask me whether I think it's safe for them to send their children to school. It's real when, after an attack in some European city, they choose to drive their children to school rather than have them take public transportation or the school bus. It is also real when their children come home wanting to change their names because of the incessant Islamophobic bullying that they suffer at school.
We know that in Canada hate crimes again Muslims have increased by an alarming 60% in one year, and they are second only to Jewish Canadians as targets of hate based on religion. We also know that law-abiding Muslims face great scrutiny at airports, at border crossings, and generally when going about their everyday lives as ordinary Canadians. Of course, we saw this irrational fear of Muslims explode into violent murder at the Quebec City mosque when six Muslim men were murdered in cold blood while they prayed. In my view, calling the irrational fear or hatred of Muslims “Islamophobia” is absolutely the right thing to do.
We also know that anti-Semitism is very real for Jewish Canadians. In Canada, Jews are still the number one target of hate based on religion. Hateful acts and hate crimes against Jews have spiked recently. In education we are seeing the rise of anti-Semitic graffiti, students making anti-Semitic comments or posting anti-Semitic images on their social media. We also cannot ignore the fact that white supremacists seem to now feel emboldened and are crawling away from their computer screens, publicly demonstrating their hatred for Jews, Muslims, for immigrants, and for all racialized people. The question then becomes how to fight against systemic racism and religious discrimination which, I'm sure we all agree, lessens us as Canadians.
I would make a couple of recommendations.
First is that the Department of Canadian Heritage and the Government of Canada act relentlessly in naming and shaming anti-black racism, anti-indigenous racism, anti-Semitism, and Islamophobia. When acts of hate occur anywhere in our wonderful country, the condemning voice of our government has to be front and centre.
Second is that the Department of Canadian Heritage develop an anti-racism action plan, which includes funding for community initiatives aimed at peacefully fighting hate and building inclusive communities. Some of this funding should explicitly be directed at students and young people who, I believe, are ready to take on the task. This initiative must include accountability measures that are both qualitative and quantitative.
Last is that the Government of Canada declare indigenous education as a national emergency and develop a plan of action with defined timelines to ensure that the national dropout rates of indigenous students fall within the average of white students. I would call for the same thing for black students, but I realize their education falls under provincial jurisdiction.
I hope I've stayed within my 10 minutes. I want to say to the members of the committee, systemic racism and religious discrimination is a national scourge that lessens us all as Canadians.
As far as hate crimes and hate acts are concerned, I think data collection is critically important. Currently, the onus is on our law enforcement agencies to collect the data, and most of the data we have actually comes from law enforcement.
In dealing with our indigenous student population, the whole issue of data collection is a bit of an interesting one. In school boards in Ontario, we ask them to self-identify, but we know what self-identification has meant for them historically. We also have to recognize that this is the reality. Having indigenous Canadians identify themselves as who they are is going to take some time, and I think part of the time is for us to actually face the truth of the history of our relationship with them.
I know that many boards are afraid of collecting so-called race-based data—I call it demographic data—but boards are now moving to that. In fact, the Government of Ontario is requiring school boards to collect demographic data. We are one board that's in the process of collecting such data. We had started down that path, but unfortunately that was somewhat held in abeyance for a while.
We need to know how we are doing. We need to know how identifiable groups of students are doing. I know folks like to say that all students are the same, but we know that the benefits the students are getting from the education system are not the same. Until we can actually say that, it doesn't make sense for us to say that all students are the same.
I always find it interesting, for example, when we talk about the data of religious freedom and so on, and I consider Don a good friend because I was his daughter's principal.
Does freedom, for example, exclude LGBTQ folks from the kinds of services that we know they are legally entitled to as Canadians? What does that actually mean? I would just worry and hope that this is not the path we're heading down.
To summarize, I think data is the way to go. We need as much data as possible, data that's disaggregated and that we can look to in order to determine how we are doing, what kinds of services we need to offer, where our resources need to be allocated, and so on.
Yes, our board did go through a very tumultuous time. We had 21 directions from the Ministry of Education including, for example, the establishment of a human rights office, which we've done. We do extensive training in human rights and in equity, in terms of the establishment of an integrity commissioner and so on, and there is now a clearer policy around managing incidents, such as what happened with the Islamophobic post by the particular principal.
I have extensive connections throughout the boards in the province, and I think we are all learning from this and have grown from this. The recommendations were, I think, well received, and they outline the kind of work that most boards should be doing anyway, whether it's data collection, or managing complaints of discrimination, or dealing with human rights complaints, or the kind of training that all school leaders, system leaders, and teachers need to undergo, in order to manage a board as diverse as our board.
In the school district, since 2012, we're a growing board, but all of our growth comes from immigration. Last year, through our reception centre, we had 3,000 new students enter and that's the only source of growth. We know in some of our regions, such as East Gwillimbury, which is a small community northeast of us, it was 24,000 and it will be 81,000 by 2025, and we know that all that growth is coming from immigration. Speaking with the mayor, she'll tell you the next place of worship to be built will not be a church.
Clearly, we are at the cusp of change. I think it will be a massive change throughout the country, and the census has told us this. The question is how we work as a nation to create the kind of welcoming communities where families like my family can grow and thrive and benefit from the wonderful opportunities this country has to offer. I believe that we need to do that by ensuring that all of our students, regardless of their social identities, are treated fairly, that they're respected, and that they're welcomed.
Yesterday we had a conference for our LGBTQ students, and we had over 300 students and their allies attend to look at the kinds of strategies we need to put in place to make sure that our schools are places where they feel safe, where they feel included, and where they feel respected.
I think we have work to do, but we are on our way to doing the work, and those recommendations certainly were a good spur in terms of getting us on that road.
The Canadian Association of Jews and Muslims is the first bilateral Jewish-Muslim organization dedicated to creating co-operation between Jews and Muslims in combatting anti-Semitism and prejudice against Muslims. CAJM was established at a time when Islamophobia was not even a known concept; the word had not even been coined.
I will just mention three very brief points, because you have our written submission as well.
My first point is, since you're dealing with systemic racism and religious discrimination, there is no worse demonstration of systemic racism than the genocidal elimination of an entire group based on race, religion, or ethnicity. There's no worse example of that than what is happening to Rohingya Muslims in Burma. The committee can play an extremely important role, because the government that is perpetrating these crimes against humanity is headed by an honorary Canadian citizen.
You, Madam Chair, and members of your committee know that Canadian citizenship, honorary or otherwise, is a badge of honour. Anyone who tramples Canadian values should not be allowed to do so. Parliament has to be very cognizant of this fact. Through you, I hope the message will be taken back to Mr. Bob Rae, the special envoy appointed by the Prime Minister, that he has to convey the most forceful message to this government that the genocide, the carnage, the ethnic cleansing has to stop, and it has to stop immediately. If it doesn't, I would urge you to persuade your members to withdraw that honorary citizenship, that honour, from Aung San Suu Kyi.
My second point is about the shameless act of the Quebec lawmakers, taking away the human rights of a specific group, an identifiable group of women, just because they happen to be Muslims. With Bill 62, the lawmakers are nudging the province and the nation in the direction of those dark ages when it was okay to tell women what to wear and what not to wear. The discrimination is rationalized with the lame excuse that some people feel uncomfortable by the way certain Muslim women dress.
As Jews and Muslims, we are concerned that if this approach is accepted, who will be next? Will Orthodox Jews be next? They have been the victims of discrimination as recently as the 1960s, where at the beaches there were plaques saying “Jews and Blacks not allowed”. Will the Buddhists or the Sikhs be next because somebody doesn't like their robes, their turbans, or their kirpans? Are we restarting a debate where burkini and bikini are contesting with each other?
Anti-Semitism is directed not only at but between Jews and Muslims. I would very much want the committee to take it upon itself to persuade the members of Parliament to use Canada's international credibility to call for an international conference between Israel and all Muslim countries. Bring them together to create back-channel relationships with those Muslim countries that do not at this time have diplomatic relationships with Israel or with each other.
With that, I will skip the next point I had and move to Barbara Landau, my co-chair.
While Canada has an excellent world reputation, we cannot be complacent. Sadly, there are continuing divisions within and across religious, cultural, racial, and other lines. I'm going to comment on some current areas of tension and then offer recommendations. I've already submitted notes from October 4 and new notes, but my statements were too long so I'm compressing them today. I have my written submission.
Number one is the language of motion 103, or a competition of victimhood. There's tension within and between the Jewish and Muslim communities, as Shahid said, over the language of M-103. Behind so many conflicts is fear, fear of not having incidents of racism, discrimination, or identity taken seriously. While the fears are legitimate, often the tactics used for raising them are divisive and exacerbate tensions between groups that are both victims of stereotyping individuals. The controversy suggests that the absence of a specific mention of anti-Semitism implies that hatred directed at Jews is being ignored, despite a similar motion previously endorsed by the government that specified anti-Semitism.
Motion 103 was put forward at a tragic time in Muslim Canadian relations when six innocent Canadian Muslim men were murdered at Friday prayers. To its credit, at least nine progressive synagogues responded with empathy by forming circles of peace around nine mosques during Friday prayers. Muslims responded with tears of gratitude and immediate bonds of friendship were felt by both groups.
However, a large Jewish organization, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, CIJA, responded quite differently. It circulated a newsletter to its extensive email list with a fear-inducing story about a sermon delivered several years earlier by a visiting speaker. The message was anti-Semitic but without context or any evidence that it sparked anti-Semitic incidents. This coincided with CIJA's message denouncing M-103. CAJM criticized this approach as divisive and lacking in empathy in a letter published in the Canadian Jewish News, which is in my submission.
A similar incident was reported in the Toronto Star with respect to prayers led by Imam Ayman Elkasrawy at the Masjid Toronto mosque. Several papers reported that some of the prayers were anti-Semitic. B'nai Brith Canada urged Ryerson to fire the imam from his job as a teaching assistant and as an assistant imam at the mosque. Again, CIJA circulated an article raising fears of anti-Semitism and potential terror. The imam apologized and offered to dialogue with Jewish leaders to find out what caused offence. His apology was not accepted and he was not given an opportunity to correct any offence. He was fired without investigation from both jobs.
Bernie Farber, former CEO of the Canadian Jewish Congress and Mosaic Institute, offered to meet. He didn't believe that the imam was an anti-Semite after meeting him. Mr. Farber invited him to attend several cultural sensitivity sessions, which he arranged with Dr. Karen Mock and other multi-faith clergy. He asked a journalist to observe. The journalist wondered if the prayers were interpreted correctly and asked several Arabic scholars to translate. The translations showed the quote had been mistranslated to appear more negative.
We need to take seriously the reality of both anti-Semitism and Islamophobia and not fan the flames of fear and hatred of each other as a way to justify our shared—
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Our world view, I want to explain very quickly, is that we're all connected as relatives and friends. We don't see colour. We're the two-legged tribe. When we go to ceremony, of course, we acknowledge the higher being, the power, and we acknowledge father sky, mother earth, grandmother moon, grandfather sun, and our relatives as star peoples. We acknowledge one in the east, the south, the west, north; there are spirit beings there. But we also acknowledge our relatives, the four-legged ones, the ones that fly, swim, or crawl, and the male and female plants.
I'll share our world view quickly. When we say, “All my relatives, all my friends”, I'm acknowledging you all as two-leggeds but I also acknowledge what I just acknowledged. That's our world view. I believe if the whole world can adopt that view, public and private sectors, we would be free of racism and discrimination, because we're all part of that family and we're all connected in that bigger world of life. I begin with that.
Our Assembly of First Nations comprises 634 first nations across Canada, 58 different nations and tribes, approximately 1.4 million people, 50% on reserve and 50% off reserve. Those are big numbers, but our AFN has been around for many years, always pushing for social justice and equality and equity for all of our peoples. For more than 50 years now, we have been doing that. We also welcome partners and allies who also work with us diligently and steadfastly for the same principles that I espoused. This committee is studying how to undertake a government-wide approach to reducing or eliminating systemic racism and religious discrimination. We know, as first nations people, that we have experienced that many times over.
I'll go just quickly by sector. Within the justice sector we see things like Angela Cardinal—she's a victim of an assault—sharing a bus with her aggressor. That's in the justice system. We see Anthony Peter-Paul even being denied a smudging ceremony in Saint John. That's not recognition of our system of trying to get connected. In Saskatoon in the 1990s there were the “twilight tours”. What I mean by that is the Saskatoon Police Service taking first nations men outside the city and making them walk back in minus 30 and 40 degree weather, which resulted in the Stonechild inquiry in Saskatchewan.
We see the policing services that are under question when it comes to missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. What are you hearing from the families? The policing services have to be reviewed, because when it comes to our peoples, they are not applying the same kinds of resources to research, to investigate, and then the communication piece is not back to the families. The policing services have to be reviewed, no question. Then there are the numbers: 4.5% of the population of Canada is first nations people but the jails are full, so we have a disproportionate number of our people in that system.
Also looking at policing services in our reserve communities, they are not deemed as essential services—policing is not even deemed as an essential service. Within that system of justice and even on the larger piece when it comes to the Constitution, part 1 dealing with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, part 2 dealing with section 35, we question that. Why is it that our rights are frozen in time, that they are not the living tree that should be brought up to date as well, but everybody else's rights are? They don't evolve.
Am I supposed to exercise my treaty right to hunt with a bow and arrow? They don't evolve, but everybody else's rights do. It's almost as if they are contingent rights, so within that whole system of justice, overhaul has to be done.
In education, for on-reserve kindergarten to grade 12, we get $6,500 per child for tuition, yet in provincial school systems it's double that, $12,000 or $13,000. In French school systems, it's $20,000 per child. That's a big variance, a big gap. Even in the universities, how many first nation people.... What is this thing called tenure, a tenure track? For first nations people, how many people really get tenure in that system? We can talk about that, but still in the education system it's there. You can break it down kindergarten to grade 12, or you can break it down to universities and tech, both systems.
In the health care system, holy smokes, we can spend a lot of time giving examples. In Winnipeg, Brian Sinclair died waiting for 34 hours for health care services. This is the modern day and it's in a big city. Then in the north, it's like a two-tiered health system for our people. There are no hospitals or qualified doctors in a lot of instances. It's a two-tiered health system in the north. In northern Manitoba and northern Ontario, there is a two-tiered health system. There's no access to these services.
We can go on and on.
Then on the social side, we know the discrimination in the child welfare system. We know it and we see it. The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal says that there are still inequities when it comes to children. Even the funding model for child welfare is flawed because it doesn't kick in until our kids are apprehended. That's when it starts. The whole funding model is flawed. This whole system, when it comes to child welfare, is hugely flawed. There are huge racism and discrimination pieces in there.
Now that we've outlined that, how do we fix it? What do we need to do?
We go back now to recommendations. We talk about reconciliation and how important it is. We're all talking about reconciliation now in Canada to fix these things. One of the most important ways is for the full adoption and implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. That, to us, is a road map to reconciliation. It's a road map to ending discrimination and racism in this country and throughout the world. That's one piece.
We talk about the tools to eradicate all these things. There are two doctrines, the doctrine of discovery and the doctrine of terra nullius. They're fast becoming viewed as illegal, racist doctrines, not only in Canada but throughout the world. That's very important because that's going to affect everything when it comes to land, resources, and territories. Get comfortable with this concept of assumed crown sovereignty and assumed crown jurisdiction, because it results from those two doctrines.
At the heart of the UN declaration is recognition of our status as peoples and nations in the global human family. Every provision in the declaration must be interpreted “in accordance with the principles of justice, democracy, respect for human rights, equality, non-discrimination, good governance and good faith”.
I ask this committee to support things we're working on.
I ask the committee to support the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and to implement all the recommendations that will be forthcoming.
I ask the committee to support the implementation of all 94 calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
I ask the committee to make sure there are proper investments in K-to-12 and post-secondary education.
I ask the committee to work with us on developing a new fiscal framework in Canada, so there's long-term, sustainable, predictable funding for first nations.
I ask the committee to work with us on this law and policy review. All the laws that are racist and still discriminatory have to be brought in line with article 35 in the UN declaration. They have to be fixed. We have to have a process for the law review and the policies. Comprehensive claims, specific claims, additions to reserve, the inherent right to self-government, all have to be fixed because they're based on termination of rights, not recognition of rights and title. I ask you all to support that work.
Implementation of treaties according to spirit and intent is very important. They are treaty relations with the crown, because that treaty relationship was based on sharing the land and resource wealth, not cede, surrender, or relinquish. We have a lot of work to do.
We need to get more first nations people on decision-making boards and authorities, the Supreme Court of Canada, the National Energy Board, boards of governors, CEOs, you name it, wherever these decisions are made, it has to happen.
I know I'm running out of time, and I'll cover some in questions, and we'll take it from there.
I'd like to take that one.
I would like to see the re-establishment of a multiculturalism funding program, with federal-provincial representation, to encourage anti-racism education by convening a national symposium to share best practices and curriculum materials for educating youth and law enforcement officials about diversity in race, culture, religion, sexual identity, and gender issues. I think it could also be a vehicle for first nations. It could be used for both, for all of the discrimination.
Another recommendation is partnership. We've spent more than 20 years bringing communities together, and we've done it successfully in so many different ways—we've included that in the materials—ways to get to know each other, ways to have an understanding of each other as human beings and of our cultural practices, and demystify and anti-stereotype each other. Certainly, our Jewish community has reached out to first nations, as well, and has made that a priority among the Reform Jewish community. We could talk more about that later.
As to protection, a combination of education, clear legislation, and tools such as restorative justice processes, which I totally encourage, for those who accept responsibility and are willing to redress their wrongs, and clear penalties for those who are unrepentant. We need data collection, as the previous.... Was it Cecil Roach speaking?
Victims of hatred and prejudice should have a coordinated government body dedicated to collecting data, and a confidential reporting system for complaints. Hate crimes legislation needs to ensure a strong response to speech and actions that cross the line.
Again, I think the co-operation between a multiculturalism committee and the provinces would be a vehicle to do that.
That's a good question.
We're embarking on that now. The came to our chiefs assembly on two occasions. He's coming again on December 5, 6, and 7, I believe, with a number of the ministers. There was a commitment made to jointly work on a law and policy review two years ago and then just last year, as well.
On the policy side, we can start seeing things happening a little bit. It still has to be tightened up. On the policies that we're keying in on, you can go department by department on what policies need to be changed.
I'll just take the four within 's department: comprehensive claims, specific claims policy, additions to reserve policy, and the inherent rights policy. All of those policies, those frameworks in there, are really outdated because they're based on termination of rights entitlement, not recognition of rights entitlement. They have to be brought up to speed with what the judicial branch is saying in Canada, like recognition of rights through the Tsilhqot'in decision.
The Supreme Court is saying a lot of things, making Supreme Court decisions about aboriginal rights, title recognition, and treaty recognition and implementation, but the legislative and executive branches of government don't keep up with what the judicial branch is saying. We need to fix that, and we have to work very quickly to get those policies changed. Those are just four. There are other ones.
You can go department by department almost, on which ones need change. Those are policies. We're trying to work co-operatively, because we want to jointly hold the pen. We don't want the government just doing this. We have to do it together.
On the laws, that's another process that we have to work together on. There are certain laws that have to be changed. One of them will be the Indian Act. It will have to be changed. How do we work to move beyond the Indian Act? That's a federal statute that's been on the books since 1876. That's one law.
Then you have others such as navigable waters and the fisheries. Some of them have to be changed in light of treaty recognition, aboriginal rights entitlement recognition, and the UN declaration. There has to be a very specific joint process to do that. We're in the process of trying to do that now, working out that work plan with objectives and time frames, working from the Assembly of First Nations, and working with this government now. That work has to be undertaken, and the results have to be measurable. It's a little slow, but we're trying to get it done.
That's my answer there. Policy is one set of work, and the law is another set of work.
If you can put that in writing and send it to the clerk, we will be able to see what your thoughts are on that particular question that Ms. Dabrusin asked.
We have come to the end of the presentations, and it's a pity because there are so many other questions that I know we all want to ask and tunnel down into. I think what Ms. Dabrusin was talking about with disaggregated data is.... For example, if you're going to apply a lens that is based on race or religion, etc., to what is happening in the country, you need the disaggregated data to do so. For instance, with gender-based analysis you have to collect disaggregated data, something that says how many women are working in the construction sector, say. When you look at that you can see women number only 5% or 2%, so how come only 2% are women? Do they face barriers, what are those barriers, what do we do to remove those barriers?
That is what the disaggregated gives us, the information to look at policies, programs, and services to see if they're being applied with an equity lens, or if some people really having a hard time and other people aren't. Then you can ask why, get that question asked, and then come down to the solutions based on seeing that some people are doing really badly and why that is. I think that was what it was meant to be.
I understand you, Chief Bellegarde, when you talked about abusing it. I have always felt that way about quotas. Once you start quotas, everybody is going to say, “I don't I have them. I need to get a space on that board. I'm a whatever.” Nobody knows if you're a whatever, so it does tend to lead to abuse. I get that, but this is about finding out how people are faring, the reality of people's lives.
Thank you very much.
You can't leave, guys. There is no motion to adjourn.