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Results: 1 - 15 of 746
View Rachel Blaney Profile
Madam Speaker, I am struggling a bit today. In the last Parliament I was part of the indigenous and northern affairs committee. We did a lot of work on a previous bill around making sure that indigenous children in care were taken care of properly. We know that the Human Rights Tribunal has stated repeatedly that indigenous children are not being treated the same as every other child in this country.
We are here today to talk about call to action number 94. In reality, in 2017 it was in the mandate letter for the minister at the time to deal with it. It is now 2020 and we finally have it here. I am going to support this legislation.
I am wondering how long it is going to take to look at reconciliation not just through these important parts, but the actual fundamental rights of first nations children in this country.
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
Madam Speaker, I will echo the member for North Island—Powell River. We will be supporting this legislation.
With all due respect to the minister, changing the citizenship oath and affirmation is really the low-hanging fruit in the long, hard path towards reconciliation that we as a nation must walk.
Walking backward and looking at the timeline, we had the Truth and Reconciliation Commission with its calls to action in 2015. We had the minister's mandate letter in 2017. This bill is relatively simple, numbering maybe two pages.
I will ask the minister again. How is it that the Liberal government has taken this long? We are in 2020 and are just now seeing a bill of this order coming before us and not yet passed into law.
View Carol Hughes Profile
I remind the parliamentary secretary, who has been here for quite some time, that he is to address his questions to the Chair, not to the individual member.
View Jenny Kwan Profile
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2020-02-24 11:23 [p.1402]
Madam Speaker, the bill amends the citizenship oath to let new Canadians know that they should recognize the rights of indigenous peoples. However, we have a situation today in which the government is clearly not recognizing the rights of indigenous peoples and not respecting section 35 of the Constitution.
How can we go forward with this when the government is not actually following its own words?
View Carol Hughes Profile
The amendment is in order.
Questions and comments.
View Jenny Kwan Profile
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2020-02-24 11:44 [p.1405]
Madam Speaker, I must say that I think the amendment defeats the very purpose of what we are trying to do here in the House of Commons, and that is to enshrine, in every aspect of what we do, in our actions, in our words and in our laws, that indigenous peoples have rights. It is particularly important for newcomers to understand that indigenous peoples have rights that are enshrined under section 35 of the Constitution and that have been earned and fought for through the Delgamuukw case to the highest court of Canada.
To dilute these words in the manner the member is suggesting defeats that purpose. What part of colonial history does the member not understand?
View Carol Hughes Profile
I would remind the member for Berthier—Maskinongé to address his questions to the Chair rather than directly to members.
View Jenny Kwan Profile
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2020-02-24 11:51 [p.1406]
Madam Speaker, the Conservatives say that they want to put reconciliation into action, yet members may recall that when over 1,000 indigenous women and girls went missing or murdered, former prime minister Harper said that it was an Indian issue.
How is that reconciliation in action?
View Jenny Kwan Profile
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2020-02-24 11:52 [p.1406]
Madam Speaker, for generations, Canada has welcomed newcomers from around the globe looking to arrive here and contribute to this great place we call home. Canada has openly welcomed people fleeing political, economic and social hardships as well as those looking for opportunities to better themselves and their families.
The multicultural mosaic of Canadian society has been shaped by people from all walks of life, who have chosen to live freely together to ensure peace and respect for all. In welcoming them to our beloved country, we look to continue and strengthen that tradition of diversity and inclusion for all who wish to call Canada home.
As we begin debate on Bill C-6, an act to amend the Citizenship Act with reference to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's call to action number 94, we need to acknowledge Canada's colonial history. Embedded in that history are many chapters of how Canada legislated against and discriminated against the ethnic minority community.
The Chinese people who came before me helped Canada build the railway to connect this country from coast to coast. They went through hell to earn me the right to stand here today. They sacrificed everything, and some paid with their blood. They took on the most dangerous work to help build the railway and they fought for Canada, even though they were deemed “aliens”. They were discriminated against and mistreated in ways that make us hang our heads in shame.
I have learned from elders and heard stories of how it was indigenous peoples, who themselves were experiencing discrimination, who came forward to support the Chinese people. They helped them, housed them, fed them, clothed them, gave them medicine, offered a sense of belonging and treated them with humanity. In practice, they have shown the world again and again that the most important life lesson is humanity. This came from the very people who were experiencing colonization, people who suffered extreme hardships and discrimination themselves.
All of this is to say how very grateful I am to the indigenous peoples for their teachings, their kindness and their humanity. What a privilege it is for me to learn from them, to stand with them, to thank them, to appreciate them for the teachings that they have given to all of us. These are the teachings of lifting each other up, of being land defenders, the teachings that water is life and that mother earth is sacred. These are teachings of being united with one heart.
As a non-indigenous person, I stand as an ally. That is why the bill before us is so important. We, as settlers, must learn and understand Canada's colonial history.
The bill would change the text of the citizenship oath taken by new citizens of Canada to align with call to action 94 of the TRC and includes a reference to treaties with indigenous peoples.
The revised citizenship oath would read as follows:
I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada, including the Constitution, which recognizes and affirms the Aboriginal and treaty rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, and fulfil my duties as a Canadian citizen.
I am proud to stand in this House in support of Bill C-6.
Taking the citizenship oath is a significant moment in a newcomer's journey to Canada. With that privilege comes responsibility. It is absolutely essential that new Canadians understand and respect the constitutional rights of all indigenous peoples, and in fact I would say it is every Canadian's responsibility to be educated about the constitutional rights of indigenous peoples.
For far too long, successive governments have made aspirational statement after aspirational statement about how they would build a new nation-to-nation relationship with indigenous peoples, about how they would take reconciliation seriously, but as we know, broken promises and shameful disappointments always followed.
We have all heard that the current Liberal government would be different. We all wanted to believe that would be true. However, even the bill before us, which is a simple but important change, has been five years in the making, despite being cited as a top priority by the government. In the last Parliament, on May 3, 2016, I tabled an amendment at committee to make this change in another immigration bill that was also called Bill C-6. Unfortunately, the committee deemed my amendment out of scope, so it did not pass.
In the last Parliament, former MP Romeo Saganash wrote to the former minister of immigration in April 2017 to offer support and assistance from the NDP to realize this measure. This offer of collaboration was ignored. Even though this change was outlined in a mandate letter to the former immigration minister, no action was taken until the dying days of Parliament before the election. Bill C-99 did not even make it to second reading.
In that not-so-subtle way, it was clear the Liberals were merely trying to set the stage to say they did try to make this change for the upcoming election. If it takes the Liberals this long to add a line in the citizenship oath, is it any wonder they are failing so miserably on their new nation-to-nation relationship with indigenous peoples?
To date, there are only nine completed calls to action out of 94, and10 with this bill. For someone who claims this is his most important relationship, it sure as heck is moving at a snail's pace. That is 2.25 calls to action per year. At this rate, it will take approximately 38 years before all of the calls to action are implemented. That would mean reconciliation in 2057.
Eva Jewell and Ian Mosby, academics at the Yellowhead Institute, called the Liberals' track record on the TRC calls to action “dreadful progress.”
Canadians are coming to terms with our colonial history and want a Canada where the rights of indigenous peoples are recognized and respected. The Liberal government is continuing to deliberately disadvantage indigenous peoples, and Canadians from coast to coast to coast are noticing. In our country, a shocking 25% of indigenous people are living in poverty, despite making up only 5% of Canada's population. This figure is even worse for indigenous children, with 47% living in poverty, and this figure rises to 53% for children on reserves.
We continue to see indigenous peoples getting poisoned because they do not have access to clean drinking water. What is a necessity for every other Canadian is not afforded to some indigenous communities. What is a basic human right is being trampled on for indigenous peoples.
It is disgusting that indigenous children are being brought to court by the Liberal government. There have been nine non-compliance orders, yet 13 years later the Liberal government continues to appeal a Human Rights Tribunal ruling that it has “wilfully and recklessly” discriminated against indigenous kids. First nations children have been harmed by the severe underfunding of the on-reserve child welfare system and are now being punished by continued government neglect. Instead of providing funding to support indigenous peoples, the government has spent almost $10 million on legal fees in the war to deny rights to indigenous kids. If the nation-to-nation relationship with indigenous peoples is the Liberals' most important relationship, then why will the Prime Minister not honour the ruling of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal and stop taking indigenous kids to court?
At the forefront of our nation, we continue to see this colonial approach by the government in addressing the Wet'suwet'en protests. The Prime Minister's comments on Friday were reckless and irresponsible. He said, “Every attempt at dialogue has been made.” What a joke. Right from the beginning, he was trying to avoid any accountability.
He refused to meet with the hereditary chiefs when they made the request to him weeks ago. Up until February 18, he did not even recognize the dispute as a nation-to-nation one. Now he has the nerve to say that patience has run out. Never mind the fact that indigenous peoples have waited 150 years for justice.
This is a failure of leadership. It is a failure of reconciliation. It is time for the Prime Minister to realize that every attempt at dialogue has not even been close to being made. A comprehensive, credible plan for de-escalation and dialogue is required in order for meaningful dialogue toward a resolution to take place.
The hereditary chiefs have said they will not negotiate with a gun to their head. They want the RCMP to stand down and the project to halt.
Given that Coastal GasLinks' final technical data report has been rejected by the B.C. environmental assessment office, this is an opportunity for all levels of government to de-escalate. The government should seize this opportunity. The Prime Minister said that the onus is on the hereditary chiefs. I say the onus is on him.
His irresponsible words on Friday only served to inhibit progress for a peaceful resolution. He should check himself. He should heed the words that are being added to the citizenship oath for newcomers and take to heart Canada's obligation to the rights of indigenous people under section 35 of the Constitution, which clearly states that “The existing aboriginal and treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada are hereby recognized and affirmed.”
The Prime Minister should also know that section 10 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples clearly upholds the principle of free, prior and informed consent. Based on Canada's highest court, the Supreme Court of Canada, the landmark Delgamuukw decision has reaffirmed the rights of indigenous peoples.
When people throw the words “rule of law” around, they need to consider all laws. Canada needs to stop using the rule of law as a weapon against indigenous peoples. Canada needs the Prime Minister to warrior up, and show some real leadership.
I will also remind everyone that Canada refused to acknowledge indigenous titles some 40 years ago under Pierre Elliott Trudeau's government.
Former justice Thomas Berger was appointed by then Indian affairs minister Jean Chrétien to lead a public inquiry into the proposed Mackenzie Valley gas pipeline. Thomas Berger said, “In my judgment, we must settle native claims before we build a...pipeline.“
Canada is at a critical time in our history.
Remember the Liberal election campaign? “Choose forward” they said. Is this going forward? At a time when it is most critical for the government to firmly reinforce its commitment to indigenous reconciliation, the Liberals are going to delay the introduction of UNDRIP. Delaying the introduction of UNDRIP in the House at this time sends a clear message of what the Prime Minister is all about. Time and again, when it comes right down to it, indigenous rights are always put on the back burner. Justice for indigenous peoples can wait. That is the message from the Prime Minister.
To further add fuel to the fire, we are hearing language from the Conservatives that has not been helpful. The more they denounce indigenous protesters as lawbreakers and radicals, the more they serve to inflame the situation.
Recent comments by Peter MacKay, a leadership hopeful for the Conservative Party, promoting vigilante action by congratulating far-right groups that have associations with yellow vest protesters, were highly irresponsible. Congratulating these far-right groups that have outright called for acts of violence against protesters will only contribute to worsen the situation. It is so disappointing to hear a leading Conservative leadership candidate take this approach.
In addition to that, the current Conservative leader, who advocates that enforced violence is the best solution, has the audacity to tell indigenous protesters to “check their privilege”.
A reply from Molly Wickham, a spokesperson for the Gidimt’en camp of Wet'suwet'en members, may have put it best, when she said, "All of Canada is subsidized by Indigenous people. All Canadian industries and transportation infrastructure rely on the theft of Indigenous land for their existence...Calling Indigenous land defenders 'privileged' when so many of our communities are denied basic human rights and services is racist and absurd."
We see time and again everyone citing the rule of law, but whose version of the rule of law are we following? The government cannot pick and choose which laws to follow and which laws to ignore. Will the rule of law continue to be only used as the government's self-serving cause or will it finally acknowledge Canada's colonial history, the precedent-setting landmark decisions that defended indigenous rights such as Delgamuukw?
This is about the perpetuated discrimination and mistreatment to which indigenous peoples have been subjected for over 150 years.
Look around at what is happening. This past weekend in Toronto, thousands of people stood in solidarity with the Wet'suwet'en people. In my riding of Vancouver East, we had countless rallies as well. We had a rally at Vancouver City Hall organized by Dakota Bear and his family, where scores of people gathered to stand in solidarity with the Wet'suwet'en peoples.
The message is loud and clear. The time has come for Canada to be on the right side of history. UNDRIP has to be entrenched in the path forward for Canada in action. To quote statements made by Grand Chief Stewart Phillip to the media:
The challenge here is to move beyond public platitudes and eloquent rhetoric about the intention of implementing the United Nations Declaration, both federally and provincially. It has to be followed through with the work of legislative reform, policy development and rules and regulations that stipulate very clearly how the entire population — both hereditary and elected band council — are able to participate in an exercise to register their support or disapproval of large-scale resource development projects.
We're not there yet. And again, corporations and governments attempt to take the shortcut and we find ourselves in the courtrooms, we find ourselves on the land, upholding and defending Indigenous law.
He further stated that:
...reconciliation cannot be achieved at gunpoint. And we cannot achieve reconciliation by throwing matriarchs and elders and children in jail. We cannot achieve reconciliation by choppering in paramilitary RCMP forces in full battle gear, surrounding encampments....
I can tell you, if choppers start landing in your backyard and teams of heavily-armed police start running through your front yard and dragging you out of your home, you'd be a little upset.
This is Canada's history. This is colonialism. This is a history that newcomers must learn. This is a history that all Canadians must take to heart. This is a pivotal time for the Canadian government to prove its commitment to indigenous people, to prove that it takes reconciliation seriously, and to prove once and for all that it will honour the rights of indigenous peoples and work with them in equal footing in the new nation-to-nation relationship.
Again, quoting Grand Chief Stewart Phillip:
The law clearly states that not only must there be substantial and thorough consultation, but there must also be consent. It must involve both parties, both elected and traditional.
This is a test of the government's will make to good on its promises. I call on the Prime Minister to seize this opportunity of not just committing to Bill C-6, but committing to a truly reimagined nation-to-nation relationship where indigenous children are not taken to court, where UNDRIP is finally implemented and carried out in action as promised, and where he takes personal action in accountability to engage with the Wet'suwet'en people. We are all waiting for the government to do the right thing by honouring indigenous rights, respecting sovereignty and treating all peoples, including indigenous peoples, with basic human rights. The time to act is now, and the world is watching. Let us not just say to new Canadians what it means to honour the rights of indigenous people; it is time for the government to take those words to heart and act accordingly.
The NDP supports Bill C-6 and we consistently call for the full implementation of all of the TRC's calls to action. The NDP honours the work of Justice Murray Sinclair, Dr. Cindy Blackstock and my former colleague, MP Romeo Saganash. In the words of Justice Murray Sinclair, “The road we travel is equal in importance to the destination we seek. There are no shortcuts. When it comes to truth and reconciliation, we are forced to go the distance.”
It is time for all levels of government to go the distance.
View Jenny Kwan Profile
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2020-02-24 12:12 [p.1409]
Madam Speaker, the government members often say that they are on the side of indigenous people, and to look at all the great actions that they have done. All that they have to do is look and really see what is going on. If they truly believe that what they are doing is the right path for them, why are they still taking indigenous children to court? Why did they not honour the Human Rights Tribunal's nine orders?
Look outside the House of Commons in Ottawa today. There are scores of people protesting, standing in solidarity with the Wet'suwet'en people. They are not just with the Wet'suwet'en people, but with all indigenous people, and saying that they are going to hold the government to account.
Young people are finding their voices everywhere. Just this weekend in Vancouver East, we had Youth Matters, voices from young people, saying that they want the government to act honestly. I ask the member to look at himself in the mirror and truly answer the question of whether the Liberals are doing what they need to do, or whether it is just empty rhetoric.
View Jenny Kwan Profile
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2020-02-24 12:14 [p.1409]
Madam Speaker, indigenous elders have taught me that they are defenders of the land, that water is life, that mother earth is sacred and that they have taken care of mother earth for thousands and thousands of years. We have a climate crisis before us.
If we do not take action now, it will be too late. There is no planet B, so when we talk about investing in energy, how about investing in clean energy? How about investing in alternative energy? How about doing this while taking care of our environment as well? How about engaging with indigenous people and honouring the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples article 10, which recognizes that free, prior and informed consent is, and must be, the path forward?
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
Madam Speaker, citizenship is a very special thing. In my own family, we have a couple of citizenships. I am married to an Australian citizen and our children are dual citizens, so we have gotten a flavour of two very different countries, but which also share a lot of similarities. I look at my childhood and what my kids are now experiencing. My own kids have now come home telling me that they have been learning parts of the Halkomelem language, which is the language of the Coast Salish peoples on Vancouver Island. A monumental shift has happened in the conversation on indigenous rights and title over the last couple of decades.
I am disappointed to see that the Conservatives are trying to kill this bill before we have even sent it to committee, where we can hear from witnesses on the oath of citizenship. The Conservatives' main concerns have been about the specificity of the words. I would like to hear from the member for Vancouver East why, given Canada's colonial history, that specificity is so important in this oath of citizenship, where newcomers to Canada are actually going to have direct words linking to our history and also the importance of aboriginal rights and title.
View Jenny Kwan Profile
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2020-02-24 12:17 [p.1409]
Madam Speaker, I want to congratulate the member and his family for having their children learn different languages. I think that is so very beautiful, and that really is what this is all about, what this bill really speaks to. That is for Canada's newcomers to actually know Canada's history.
Why are these specific words recognizing indigenous rights in reference to section 35 of the Constitution so important to emphasize in the citizenship oath?
It is because for over 150 years successive governments have ignored those rights. Even today, I would argue that governments are ignoring those rights. It may be there written in words, but people do not take it to heart. Conservative governments and Liberal governments have not taken it to heart, so we are setting a new chapter, a new face forward, and we will have those words entrenched in the citizenship oath so every newcomer will understand that we are not just saying this, but we must take this to heart and honour it.
View Rachel Blaney Profile
Madam Speaker, my colleague's speech was an important one to heard. One of the things that was most concerning was what the Yellowhead Institute stated:
If the current pace holds (2.25 Calls a year) it will take approximately 38 more years before all of the Calls to Action are implemented. Reconciliation in 2057?
If we look at what is happening across our country, it definitely is clear that there is a lack of a pathway, a lack of leadership around reconciliation. There is an essential distrust. When we look at the bill and when we talk about treaties, we have to also acknowledge how long this path will take. Is moving so slowly the right way to go?
View Jenny Kwan Profile
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2020-02-24 12:19 [p.1410]
Madam Speaker, that is exactly the point. We just heard the government's side saying that it had done more than any other government and that it was so committed. The government keeps saying how great it has been on its new nation-to-nation relationship.
I wonder if any of the government members realize that since the TRC calls to action have been tabled and made public, to date only nine of the calls to action has been realized. With this bill, it will be 10. At this pace, it will take at least 38 years to get there.
By the way, this change is adding a line, some words, to the citizenship oath. Imagine the work that needs to be done to implement real action, real policies and changes within the government ranks to get there.
It is taking far too long. Indigenous peoples have to suffer injustices. They had their children taken away. Genocide has been tried on indigenous peoples and they have survived.
If we want to talk about a new nation-to-nation relationship, we need to acknowledge an act within the law, section 35 of our Constitution, to recognize UNDRIP and the Supreme Court decision, going forward.
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