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View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
2018-05-29 18:10 [p.19838]
[Member spoke in Inuktitut]
[English]
Mr. Speaker, to preface, I do not plan to take up too much time. I want to speak briefly to the great importance of this bill for Canada and for its indigenous people.
I would like to start by thanking the member for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou for bringing the bill forward, and I am truly honoured to have the opportunity to speak to it.
As an indigenous member of the House and this Parliament, the bill is truly special to me.
I think we all know that indigenous people of the country have historically suffered far too many traumas and injustices as a direct result of colonization. Over the past 150 years, Canada's indigenous people have lost much of their identity and culture, a loss that has left many struggling to find their place within the country. As a result, we see a huge disparity between indigenous and non-indigenous people, in particular, poverty, incarceration, health care, housing, access to clean water, and in their overall quality of life. Sadly, this is just the start of a long list of others.
I believe that the adoption of the bill would be a strong first step in helping to right these wrongs, to close this gap going forward.
The bill would fulfill one of the very important calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It calls on the federal government to use the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a framework for reconciliation. In doing so, the federal government is required to exercise a more contemporary approach when engaging with indigenous people, an approach that is rooted in respect for indigenous rights and equality. This is exactly what indigenous people of the country need.
I have stated many times in the House that Nunavummiut experience third world living conditions in a first world country. Sadly, this is a fact, and the statistics to support this statement are there. Nunavut has the highest rate of food insecurity in the country, with nearly 70% of homes being food insecure. There is currently a housing crisis where nearly 40% of Nunavummiut are in need of suitable safe housing. This is not to mention the highest rate of suicide and the lowest graduation rates in the country. Something needs to change.
Therefore, yes, I agree that we do need a new approach on how the Government of Canada engages with indigenous people and this bill represents a good step toward reconciliation in addressing the current disparity.
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