Interventions in Committee
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View Kevin Waugh Profile
Some of our school divisions on reserve have agreements with the municipalities. How does that work? We had a witness here from Saskatoon who said they weren't entitled to any of the grants for languages because their kids are not on reserve. They're being bussed into, in this case, Saskatoon, Stonebridge. All of a sudden, that funding for languages is taken away.
Jean-François Tremblay
View Jean-François Tremblay Profile
Jean-François Tremblay
2019-05-14 10:16
We met the same chief. It is an issue that has been raised, the fact that the funding for language is related to the first nations education system, not the provincial one.
Some people have an agreement with the province—the education system, the schools, are actually provincial schools—but the funding for languages is not going there. It is something that has been raised and will be the subject of discussions over the next few years.
It's a formula; it's not a definitive formula. The dialogue will continue. We're always looking at ways of improving this, but it's clearly something we heard. Our objective was to promote first nations languages in first nations schools, but I recognize it's one of the issues we've been hearing about.
View Robert-Falcon Ouellette Profile
Lib. (MB)
We have the official languages, English and French, with both of your departments.
Are there programs to encourage people to speak indigenous languages?
Jean-François Tremblay
View Jean-François Tremblay Profile
Jean-François Tremblay
2019-05-14 10:23
Unfortunately, there are no programs encouraging people to speak indigenous languages at the office per se. We encourage our indigenous employees who work with indigenous communities to speak their own language. We have that, and we see that.
View Robert-Falcon Ouellette Profile
Lib. (MB)
Is there an incentive program where they receive funds if they speak an indigenous language, or does it count towards promotion, towards executive positions or other positions within the federal civil service?
Jean-François Tremblay
View Jean-François Tremblay Profile
Jean-François Tremblay
2019-05-14 10:24
We have programs where we do a recruitment process that is targeted to indigenous people.
We don't necessarily link—
View Robert-Falcon Ouellette Profile
Lib. (MB)
If, for instance, someone is wanting to go into a position in the federal civil service right now, you have to be BBB or exempt or whatever.
What happens if you speak just English and an indigenous language?
Jean-François Tremblay
View Jean-François Tremblay Profile
Jean-François Tremblay
2019-05-14 10:24
I cannot have an exemption from the official languages policy.
What we have been trying to do and to risk-manage is to hire those people and send them on French training, to make sure that in two years they will meet the requirements. We do our best, but we have legal obligations under the official languages policy.
It's easier in regions. In regions that are not necessarily bilingual, they can move to EX positions, but in headquarters, it's one of the challenges we face. It's the application of official languages.
Judy Wilson
View Judy Wilson Profile
Judy Wilson
2019-05-14 12:45
Thank you.
[Witness spoke in Secwepemctsin]
I'm acknowledging and honouring the unceded lands and the peoples of the Algonquin territory, where these proceedings are taking place.
I'm from the Secwépemc Nation, one of the largest nations in the interior of British Columbia. I am a member of executive of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs. We've been working towards the implementation, exercise and recognition of our inherent title and treaty rights. The union has been involved in advocacy work and efforts with the provincial government and the federal government to recognize and affirm our inherent jurisdiction over our children, for many decades.
It's important that the work of advancing the policy and legislation for our children is a priority of our B.C. first nations, and for the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs. I'm also a member of the First Nations Leadership Council in B.C. We're made up of the First Nations Summit, the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs and the B.C. Assembly of First Nations. Our three organizations work together, and bring respective political mandates to build a strong collective and unified voice in British Columbia. One of those issues has always been the children and youth.
It started in 2002, with the Tsawwassen Accord—it will all be in our brief we submitted to you—and also in the leadership accord developed in 2005. We've been working toward these outcomes and changes for our children. Bill C-92 does offer practical and meaningful progress that aligns with our work here in B.C.
It is the utmost importance in critical timing this legislation is presenting. Even though we've done some provincial changes to the legislation out here, with respect to children and family, we find that we're still stuck in a lot of the old models. The only thing we were able to do was delegated agencies for many years. Really, the delegated agencies were supposed to be a transition to full jurisdiction for our nations.
We have been stuck in that process. We need to carry on with that work, into the affirmation and recognition of our inherent title rights, especially with our children. We have to change, because indigenous children across Canada are overrepresented in the system. The first contact with the settlers and colonial laws impacted our families, and broke down our families, through residential schools. It's documented in all the different commissions and hearings that have happened in Canada.
We need to make that change. Our families are fractured, and we need to bring them back together, for that meaningful change in the lives of the children—to be able to bring them home.
In our community, we recently brought 20 children home, but it was a lot of effort and fight to do that. We held an honouring and recognition for our children. Our nation also held one, about a month ago, in Vancouver, where many families were reunited with their children. That's only the start of the work. There needs to be a lot more work in bringing up our children, and truly connecting them with who they are, in their lands, their families and their communities. We have to have that meaningful change for our children and families.
One of the core purposes of this legislation must be to implement the United Nations declaration. It's truly a framework for reconciliation, and it was recommended by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Yet, the provisions in the bill, under clause 8, do not reference the United Nations declaration as the context for the reconciliation in child welfare. It's only referenced in the preamble, but not in the critically important and substantive clause 8, on purpose and principles. That needs to change in this legislation.
I also emphasize this because the United Nations declaration reflects the minimum standards of the survival and dignity of our indigenous people. It sets out the minimum standards of human rights. It's an important provision that needs to be emphasized in the implementation of Bill C-92, once it becomes legislation. Article 22 focuses on the importance of respecting the rights of girls and women and ensuring they do not experience discrimination. For this reason, I urge you to consider an amendment to clause 8 of Bill C-92, adding paragraph (c), as follows, “To implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People as a progressive framework for the resolution of human rights issues impacting children, youth, and families.”
One of the other things I wanted to note is that this is a historic and transformational moment for Canada and for indigenous people across Canada. We cannot let this moment pass. If we went back in time to the residential school policy legislation changes, for example, had we made that change, how many families would not have had to go through that whole residential school experience? We're saying that with this child and family legislation, we have an opportunity to make these changes, stop the number of children going into care and reunify them with their community and their family.
There must be that meaningful change, because there are more children in care now through this child welfare system than at the height of the residential schools. It's continuing to grow. Former minister Philpott mentioned that this was a humanitarian crisis, which it very much is, so we can't sit by idly and let this go. We have to keep pressing forward on these changes that are to come. We've been doing it in the courts. We've been doing it in other avenues, but now we have the opportunity through legislation.
It's been about four years now since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its final report urging Canada to deal with the residential schools and the child welfare system, and to support languages. We're on that threshold, and we need to be able to carry on with this work and not let another year pass by.
Bill C-92 provides a means by which we can begin to action some of these calls. I think the core...the families, the communities and our legal systems are really important. Since the time it was established, that colonial law, as I mentioned, severed that connection. It was meant to assimilate our people into the system, and the result was the removal of our children and the disruption of our family systems.
The other part of this is the funding piece. Bill C-92 must include the funding. We can't rely just on the coordination agreements that dictate the resources for this rebuilding. Because of the colonial impact, it's important that Canada also attach the funding to this process so that we don't have to rely on, as Bernie mentioned earlier, the western view of the best interests of the child. It's really important to rely on the collective interests of not just the child, but the families as well. They were trying to stop the transmission of our culture, our ceremonies, our language and our laws, but in a reverse way we can turn that around so that we're empowering the children, the families and the communities for healing and for rebuilding. It's really important to rebuild our families, our communities, our nations.
Our Secwépemc Nation is doing a lot of that work in our child and family jurisdiction. It's called Stsmémelt. We've been working with the Secwépemc Child and Family Services and the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council in rebuilding that. It's a lot of work, and it does need to be resourced.
This approach didn't survive, because our people had resilience and have survived it. I stand before you today despite the damage that the colonial laws caused. We're going to continue to rebuild our people and our children, our families. Canada has an obligation to right these wrongs that impacted so many of our families and children across Canada. We really need to bring our children home so they can be raised in our communities by our own people and know that they can connect with their communities and their language and their laws.
I wanted to touch on one other area. I acknowledge and support a lot of the nations that have issues with this legislation, because each nation has a right to self-determination under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, article 3. If they wish to enact their own laws, they just need the recognition, whether it's their treaty recognition or their inherent recognition; they have the free choice to do that themselves. This legislation must find a way to respect that, or again, it will be a colonial path, and we don't want to go down that path.
We want to be able to respect those nations that make their own decisions for their nations and do not rely on Canada's laws to do that. It's their choice if they don't want to recognize the bill. We have a mandate here in B.C. Our chiefs have already identified the mandate to work with this bill, Bill C-92. It's federal legislation. It provides affirmation to our inherent children's rights that exist and does not rely on these colonial laws.
We will submit our brief. Again, thank you for the time to discuss these issues with you. I look forward to the questions you may have.
Edward John
View Edward John Profile
Edward John
2019-05-09 8:43
Thank you, Madam Chair. Good morning, committee members.
I'd like to acknowledge the Algonquin people as well, and their traditional homelands.
We're from the same organization in British Columbia, so I won't go into that background. I do want to mention that on submitting this report, the Premier of British Columbia asked, given the significant numbers of children in care, to seek advice on what the province ought to be doing. It's close to a 200-page report with some 86 recommendations. It takes an extensive look at the impacts of laws, policies and practice standards.
I didn't start there. I started in the communities, asking them what they thought and how they felt about how these provincial laws, policies, regulations and practice standards impacted them. This story is really from their perspective. It's the practice side of this impact in our communities. The clerk has this, as well as a summary. There's another document that was tabled with the clerk with our position.
Bill C-92 represents a clear advancement for prevention, early intervention and protection services—in section 1—for indigenous children, youth and families in their respective communities while acknowledging and respecting the diversity of indigenous peoples.
The bill speaks to indigenous youth, but in the operative sections of the bill, the youth are not included. I think it's something that needs to be considered. It may be an oversight.
The national advisory committee is an advisory committee to the Minister of Indigenous Services Canada. The interim report from that committee was submitted to the former minister of Indigenous Services Canada, Jane Philpott, and the AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. I chaired that committee. The recommendation from that committee was that the federal government consider enacting federal legislation to address the staggering challenges faced by first nations people relating to children and families. Minister Philpott concluded that these challenges amounted to humanitarian crises. We all recall that moment.
Indigenous peoples developing their own laws, regulations, policies and practice standards will exercise their responsibilities in a modern context and uphold and act on their inherent rights to support their children and families. Their laws: by them, for them. Clause 18, read together with clauses 2 and 8 provide a necessary and critical foundation for this.
The operative principles of “substantive equality” in subclause 9(3) and “cultural continuity” in subclause 9(2) are essential for indigenous peoples. When combined with the necessary and extensive support from the federal and provincial governments, they will help to address the deeply rooted ravages of over 150 years of deliberate and misguided assimilation of Crown laws and policies. The final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission called it “cultural genocide”.
Bill C-92 together with Bill C-91 on indigenous languages provide a substantive framework to remedy past government policy pillars to “kill the Indian in the child” by removing the child from siblings, family, community, foods, lands, territories and resources; and providing education to Christianize and civilize the child by declaring as inferior indigenous philosophies, teachings, languages and culture.
The proposed legislation has shortcomings and is not exhaustive. For indigenous peoples, there will be both internal and external challenges, obstacles and hurdles for the full and effective realization of this significant aspect of the right to self-determination. Constructive and desperately needed changes for indigenous peoples will take time.
I have three recommendations that I want to deal with.
Clause 15 should be strengthened by ensuring the necessary support and other measures for parents, extended family and community, so that no child is removed for reasons related to poverty or the socio-economic circumstances of the child's family.
The recommendation on financing and funding is critically important. There's only one reference in the preamble. The recommendation is that the underlying substance of this acknowledgement should be moved from the preamble to the operative provisions of the bill.
I agree with the recommendation on amending article 8 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
We are hopeful that the three bills, Bill C-262, Bill C-91 and Bill C-92, will be adopted and royal assent will be given before the end of this Parliament's mandate.
Finally, the budget implementation legislation, which contains many significant financial commitments to first nations, Inuit and Métis people needs to be adopted. We cannot have Canada's commitments die on an Order Paper. We've been through that once before.
Thank you.
Steven Nitah
View Steven Nitah Profile
Steven Nitah
2019-05-07 11:17
Mahsi cho, Mr. Chairman, and mahsi cho, Chief and committee members.
I also would like to thank you for giving us the time to share the good news that is Thaidene Nëné. As Chief Marlowe indicated, we have been diligently working with both levels of Crown governments over a number of years to create Thaidene Nëné together. Thaidene Nëné was a mandate and vision given to us by the elders, most of whom have passed on since that mandate was given to us. As chief negotiator, I was mandated to take the leadership role on behalf of the community over all these years.
We first started the work in earnest in 2000, once we initialled the Akaitcho lands, resources and governance agreement on July 25, 2000. The elders at that time asked us to move forward to protect the heart of our homeland—not the entire territory of our homeland, but the heart of our homeland. At that time, they identified 55,000 square kilometres as an area of interest.
In 2006 then chief Addie Jonasson signed an MOU with then minister of the environment Rona Ambrose of the Conservative Party. That allowed us to do further research and due diligence on best practices at the global level and down into Canada. We could have chosen different partners in our relationship in the creation of Thaidene Nëné, but we chose Canada because we have a treaty with Canada. We agreed to share the lands and resources and the responsibility to share them and to benefit from them. In 2010, when I was the chief, I signed the framework agreement with the late Jim Prentice, who was then minister of the environment, to start formal negotiations. In our culture we've never really had a political structure that would have a grand chief, per se. Leaders are chosen for specific purposes. At that time, the elders and the community appointed me to take the leadership role to usher in the negotiations and build the relationship requirement to create Thaidene Nëné.
Thaidene Nëné today is a model of conservation. It's a model of reconciliation between indigenous and Crown governments, collectively between us and the land, and as a form of economic reconciliation. Significant investment will go into our community, where 18 full-time jobs will be created. We will work alongside Parks Canada in the management and operations of Thaidene Nëné equally, as a shared responsibility. An amount of $32 million will go into that area for the first 12 years, and approximately $3 million annually after that for the operations and management of Thaidene Nëné.
Thaidene Nëné is a great example of reconciliation in this country. In fact, Thaidene Nëné has been used by Canada and by many indigenous nations across the country as an example of how to develop their relationships with Crown governments. Together we've created a model of a relationship that's been utilized and emulated by many right across the country. In fact, it's helping speed up the relationship building between indigenous governments and Crown governments and the creation of marine and terrestrial protected areas to help Canada reach its Aichi targets of 17%.
With Thaidene Nëné we're ready to go. The conditions are good. We're in a position to sign and establish Thaidene Nëné in July this summer. As the chief indicated, we have secured funding to allow LKDFN their independence and to be a true partner in the management, operations and governance of Thaidene Nëné. We have the capacity to move forward and diversify our economy. We are in a place in the Northwest Territories where our traditional territory is 280,000 square kilometres. A national park of 14,000 square kilometres, with an additional 12,000 for a protected area, is just a small piece of our territory.
We are not anti-development. We have a relationship with all the mining industries in our territory. We have agreements with Diavik, BHP and De Beers.
Thaidene Nëné went through an extensive HMIRA assessment that informed the final boundaries that we see today. All the highly prospective mineral potential has been taken out of the area of interest. Areas that are unknown geologically have been excluded from Thaidene Nëné as well. We've taken great care to ensure that Lutsel K’e has positioned itself to participate in both the non-renewable and the renewable resource economy.
Thaidene Nëné will provide a long-term, stable, consistent economic base for the community and at the same time create certainty for investment outside of Thaidene Nëné within our territory.
It's a great model for reconciliation in this country, and it's a great model for conservation relationships among indigenous governments and Crown governments, whether at the federal or the provincial level. We have an establishment agreement with the Government of Northwest Territories, and we've helped develop the legislative proposal that has been reviewed by the people of the Northwest Territories through public hearings by the Northwest Territories Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment. They're doing that as we speak. We hope they will turn that legislative proposal into law in their next legislative session in May so we can all sign off on the establishment agreement and celebrate the creation and establishment of Thaidene Nëné.
With that, I will answer any questions you may have.
Mahsi cho.
View Julie Dabrusin Profile
Lib. (ON)
Welcome to this 149th meeting of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.
Today we begin our clause-by-clause study of Bill C-91.
View Cathy McLeod Profile
Madam Chair, before we get started, I want to express significant concern. To have the government side drop over 20 amendments 15 minutes prior to clause-by-clause is absolutely ridiculous. There is a process, which I think every committee member goes through, in terms of doing due diligence around amendments to see if it fits in. As I said, I think it's absolutely shameful that with 15 minutes to go there are over 20 amendments that have been tabled.
As such, I'd like to make a motion that we adopt this bill as is, without amendments.
View Julie Dabrusin Profile
Lib. (ON)
I'm just getting some advice from the clerks for the moment. I'm just going to hold that for a second, if I may, so that I can get proper advice from my clerks.
Because this is highly unusual, it requires getting some advice from the external clerk. We're going to have to hold onto that for a moment. I'm just going to suspend it for a moment so I can get the proper advice.
If I may, what I did want to start with, in fact, was the budget for the study.
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