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View Carolyn Bennett Profile
Lib. (ON)
Kwe kwe, Unnusakkut, Tansi, hello.
I am speaking to you today from the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. I also wish to honour the waters they paddled and their moccasins which walked these lands.
I am joining you along with my colleague, the Minister of Northern Affairs, and we are supported by our deputy minister, Daniel Watson, and his team.
While I am appearing today on my department’s 2021-2022 supplementary estimates (A), it is also at a difficult time for indigenous communities, and all Canadians.
We are all deeply heartbroken at the discovery of the unmarked remains of children at the former Kamloops residential school. This has shocked and disturbed the nation. For indigenous people across the country, these findings are deeply painful and traumatizing, but for them not as surprising, as this was forecast. These have been the stories and the “knowings” for a very long time. For six years the Truth and Reconciliation Commission heard these hard truths, along with many others, during their national and regional reconciliation gatherings. These revelations have reopened many wounds and renewed a necessary conversation on the role of residential schools, those responsible, and how as a country we can move forward together.
We are working with the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation and our partners, such as the B.C. First Nations Health Authority, to provide the resources and the supports needed, as determined by the community. I have spoken with Kúkpi7 Casimir, most recently on Monday night, and her leadership and strength have been exemplary. We have offered support for healing, mental health supports, security and whatever she needs to support her community now, as well as support for research, archaeological expertise and commemoration going forward.
In memory of all of the children who went missing, and in support of their grieving families and communities, we provided $33.8 million through budget 2019 to implement TRC calls to action 72 to 76.
To support implementing calls to action 72 and 73, we have funded the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation to develop and maintain the national residential school student death register and establish an online registry of residential school cemeteries.
In keeping with the principles laid out in call to action 76, after the passage of budget 2019 we engaged with communities to ensure that any program to deliver the funds to support calls to action 74 and 75 was designed in a way to meet their needs, be flexible enough to support community-led approaches and respect community protocols.
Based on what we heard, we are currently providing funding, on an urgent basis, to support indigenous-led, community-based, survivor-centric and culturally sensitive investigations of these burial sites. We are actively reaching out to indigenous communities to work with them on how they can access the $27 million of funding being delivered to support them in finding their lost children. Communities know what they need. Our government will be there to support their way forward.
In discussing the supplementary estimates (A), we know that the money is there to heal past wrongs, support self-determination and advance reconciliation with first nations, Inuit and Métis people. They reflect a net increase of $997 million, which includes the $136.4 million in new funding and $868.2 million in re-profiled funding. The re-profiled funding in these estimates will preserve funding for the ongoing implementation of the Federal Indian Day Schools Settlement Agreement and the sixties scoop settlement. As of May 31, 2021, of more than 113,000 claims received under the Federal Indian Day Schools Settlement Agreement, over 75,000 survivors have received payment of individual compensation. While COVID-19 has delayed the implementation of the Sixties Scoop Settlement Agreement, approximately 15,000 interim payments of $21,000 have been paid. These supplementary estimates will preserve the funding to complete the individual compensation, which should be determined later in the fiscal year.
These supplementary estimates also include funding to support Inuit housing, Tŝilhqot’in community priorities through their pathway agreement, implementation of the Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement and many other important measures to support reconciliation.
We have provided you with a comprehensive deck on the supplementary estimates (A). I look forward to providing further details through your questions.
Meegwetch. Nakurmiik. Marsi. Thank you.
View Sylvie Bérubé Profile
BQ (QC)
I would be very grateful.
My next question is for Mr. Vandal.
Earlier, you talked about Louis Riel. As a Quebecker, I can only reiterate the historic close relationship between Quebec and the Métis Nation. Ottawa has never exonerated Louis Riel after he was unjustly executed.
Do you think it is time for the federal government to finally apologize and exonerate Louis Riel?
View Dan Vandal Profile
Lib. (MB)
Thank you for that excellent question.
I can tell you that neither the elected Métis governments nor the direct descendants of Louis Riel want a pardon. Our government respects the indigenous peoples' rights to self-determination and self-government. I know this is a major issue. Important discussions are underway in the communities.
I would say that it is up to the Métis communities to offer us guidance from their perspective.
View Sylvie Bérubé Profile
BQ (QC)
My next question is for Ms. Bennett.
Bill C-15 is currently being considered in the Senate. Time is running out, and I have two questions on that subject.
First, are you hopeful that this bill will receive royal assent by the end of the parliamentary session?
Second, will there be a commitment that royal assent will be granted for Bill C-15 by a governor general who would be the first indigenous person to hold that office?
View Carolyn Bennett Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you for your question.
I believe that Mr.Leblanc said last Saturday that there was an indigenous person among the potential candidates for the office of governor general. We are awaiting the outcome of that process.
To answer your question concerning comprehensive claims, first, there is a grant for the Assembly of First Nations so that they can participate. Second, there will be revisions to our federal policy.
View Mumilaaq Qaqqaq Profile
NDP (NU)
View Mumilaaq Qaqqaq Profile
2021-06-10 13:13
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
The supplementary budget estimates include $1.2 billion in funding for out-of-court settlements for indigenous legal cases. The legal system has failed indigenous peoples countless times. Where do you expect that money to be used?
View Marc Miller Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thanks, MP Qaqqaq.
I will acknowledge that the legal system in Canada has failed indigenous peoples. One of the present challenges we face as a government and continue to face is that where we are in disagreement in a respectful way.... Obviously, out of court is the preferred way to do so.
I'd ask my team to specify those numbers, because I'm aware of many cases. If they could just break down quickly what those numbers comprise....
We can give you a written response, too.
View Mumilaaq Qaqqaq Profile
NDP (NU)
View Mumilaaq Qaqqaq Profile
2021-06-10 13:14
I think that out of court is the way that the federal institution has forced this to go. Residential school survivors should be compensated, and they shouldn't have to sue the government to settle out of court to get their money.
Why is the government willing to spend more than a billion dollars on court settlements but not on ensuring that indigenous peoples have access to basic human rights like housing?
View Marc Miller Profile
Lib. (QC)
This touches on a question that I, perhaps, can't answer in the time remaining, but closing those socio-economic gaps, talking about those issues that have driven the inequities and violations of human rights, is key. We don't want to get into a court process, but again, people who have suffered harm need to be compensated.
Transforming the system is a part of that, and as you note by implication, no single court case can transform the system when it comes to child and family care as Bill C-92 can and aspires to, as well as all the transformative pieces of legislation in and around languages and inherent right and that form of reparations that we need to do to transform Canada into what people believe it to be but that, frankly, with the news in the last two weeks, is not.
Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux
View Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux Profile
Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux
2021-06-03 12:49
Thank you, Stephanie.
Thank you to the commissioners, as well, for the work you've done in the past and the truth that you brought to light.
I'd like to thank the standing committee, as well, for the opportunity to speak to you today.
I'd like to say good afternoon. I am a proud member and resident of the Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation in Lake Simcoe.
Together with the Chippewas of Beausoleil and Rama, and the Mississaugas of Alderville, Curve Lake, Hiawatha and Scugog Island, we are all signatories to several treaties signed throughout the 18th and 19th centuries that covered lands in different parts of southern and central Ontario. I'd like to acknowledge that I'm speaking to you from the original lands of the Chippewa today.
First, I also want you to know that both my parents attended residential school and spent 20 years there between them, my father going at the very young age of four, actually being raised there and also suffering the consequences of that through the rest of his life.
I think there are two things that need to be done.
The first is to finally uncover the truth—and I mean truth with a capital T, because we've had a lot of truth-telling, but we have not had the final truth—to finally and completely identify all the children who never returned home. Paramount to this step is having all parties to the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement release all the relevant records needed to document this truth.
The second is upholding indigenous protocols around mourning and ensuring that indigenous communities determine what ceremonies and commemorations are necessary and appropriate to honour the children who died and those who never returned home.
For years, the Canadian government denied indigenous peoples the freedom to practise our sacred ceremonies and cultural practices. The residential school system had a role—if not the largest role—in reinforcing this. Survivors have shared that residential schools had a detrimental impact on their ability to grieve.
It is therefore necessary that communities be supported to bring in knowledge-keepers and undertake the ceremonies that were so long denied to the missing children, their families and their communities. There is an ongoing restoration process that must be supported for our next generations.
I want to underline the TRC’s call to action 76, which says that indigenous peoples must be able to lead in the development of strategies for documenting, maintaining, commemorating and protecting residential school cemeteries.
In the view of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation—and the survivors we depend on to guide us—hiding, damaging, interfering with or destroying the graves of residential school children must be recognized as a crime and prosecuted as such.
In addition, national standards must be put in place concerning the use of investigative technologies, such as ground-scanning radar, to ensure that the privacy of affected families is respected and that any evidence of crimes is not compromised.
Finally, all measures to investigate and protect burial sites must be consistent with the rights of indigenous people in domestic and international law, including the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Yesterday, the federal Minister for Crown-Indigenous Relations announced that previously allocated funding for the investigation of gravesites would finally be made available to first nations, Inuit and Métis Nation governments and communities. In making the announcement, the minister told reporters that indigenous peoples weren’t ready for the money to be released before this.
This is quite simply untrue. The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, survivors and our partners have been working within frameworks of collaboration, respect for diverse indigenous protocols and adherence to the guidance of survivors and knowledge-keepers for many years—as you heard former commissioner Wilson say.
The federal government has been told time and time again that the need for action is urgent. The national centre and indigenous communities have been desperate to begin meaningful action in locating gravesites, but have been severely underfunded. We've made progress on this journey towards truth, reconciliation and healing, but more truth—a deeper truth—remains.
The Kamloops school brings into focus just how much more work we have to do as a country. This is going to require genuine, sustained action by the Government of Canada to meet the obligations required to right this horrific wrong. Survivors have consistently said that before we can meaningfully talk about reconciliation, we must have truth and we must have healing.
The Aboriginal Healing Foundation was cut short in its work, and its support would be very appropriate right now. Until we have identified all the children who never came home from residential schools, we will not know the whole truth. Until those children are finally returned to their families and communities, the healing journey will remain incomplete.
This is a collective task before us. We must do this in a good way without any further delay.
Meegwetch for your time and attention.
View Arnold Viersen Profile
CPC (AB)
To sum up the thought, if it doesn't say that you can't do it, that's not allowing that you can't do it kind of thing, right?
Julian Falconer
View Julian Falconer Profile
Julian Falconer
2021-05-13 19:18
That's true, and I should draw something to your attention, because it just came out in February of this year. To be honest, I think it speaks to what Chief Morrison said.
It's a quote from a judgment involving Iskatewizaagegan, so Shoal Lake No. 39 versus Winnipeg. Winnipeg's sole source of drinking water is my client Shoal Lake, since 1913, 100 million gallons a day.
This is what a judge said. It's one paragraph. I promise this won't take long. He recognized the role of indigenous law. I think you will be fascinated by this. It's paragraph 48 of a February judgment, just this February:
The law that governs the relationship between Canada and Aboriginal peoples of Canada is what is now known as Aboriginal law. Indigenous law is not the same as Aboriginal law. Both before and after the arrival of European settlers, the Aboriginal peoples in North America had well-developed civilizations that had legal systems and legal customs. Those discrete legal systems are the source of Indigenous law.
We will make sure we get you that passage, but it's exactly what Chief Morrison was talking about before, and it reflects a Superior Court Judge, Justice Perell, who has gone to the next level. We all have to get there, right?
Connie Lazore
View Connie Lazore Profile
Connie Lazore
2021-05-13 11:19
With support from Minister Lametti, that table will continue to work.
We have legislative development and we have four years to exercise our inherent right to develop, approve and implement our laws in our community. Those laws—like every law that is created—are based on a need. We are currently working to approve our cannabis law, an emergency management act, the fire code and amendments to the election law. We need laws such as a child welfare laws, landlord/tenant laws, and education and language laws. Those will be next on our list.
What we need—
Brooks Arcand-Paul
View Brooks Arcand-Paul Profile
Brooks Arcand-Paul
2021-05-13 11:39
[Witness spoke in Nêhiyawêwin and provided the following text:]
Ahâw nitotemtik kiatamiskâtinawâw kâhkîyaw, nitikawin sîpîysis, kipohtakaw ohciniya.
[Witness provided the following translation:]
Dear friends, I am greeting all of you in a good way, my name is sîpîysis, and I am from the Alexander First Nation.
[English]
Thank you, Mr. Chair. My name is Brooks Arcand-Paul. My traditional name is Sîpîysis, which means “little river” in nêhiyawewin, my people's language.
I'm the vice-president of the Indigenous Bar Association of Canada. I'm also an in-house counsel for the Alexander First Nation. I'm here today to represent the Indigenous Bar Association and to discuss the important topic of law enforcement on first nations reserves.
As a practitioner on reserve, and having primarily first nations in Alberta as clients while in private practice, I am intimately aware of the issues that exist within the framework of enforcement on reserve in Alberta and certainly on the Prairies. I've been dealing with this issue regularly in my practice. The same problems are highlighted time and time again.
First, we must acknowledge that self-government and self-determination won't happen if we fail to address the elephant in the room. That elephant is Canada's ongoing paternalism towards its indigenous partners in Confederation.
Our treaties have given this country the authority to exist. Before those treaties were concluded, this very country recognized that my ancestors, and those of other indigenous groups who entered into similar relationships with the Crown, had decision-making capacities, including the application and use of our own legal systems that were never subordinate to any government in Canada.
Further, Canadian courts have repeated since Confederation that indigenous peoples continue to have the right to use their laws for areas including, but not limited to, family law, adoption, and marriage, and have given deference to nations that enact their own laws and customs. For a piece of legislation such as the Indian Act or FNLMA to continue to exert paternalism is discriminatory. It is shameful for Canada to treat its partner in Confederation as incapable of making legal decisions outside the confines of legislation.
If we are truly intent on getting back to the relationship that was intended under our treaties and modern agreements, or as required on unceded territories, we have to reconceptualize what it means to recognize indigenous legal rights. If we're not doing a wholescale removal of the acts, we need to get creative in how we move forward together in a good way, as was intended when our ancestors both became beneficiaries of our continued sharing of the territories currently called Canada.
I will move to the next issue that first nations experience when it comes to the limited law-making rights afforded to them under the act. When a bylaw is intra vires a band council's authority, the most common and pressing issue remains enforcement—that police forces and the public prosecution services of Canada will not enforce these fully legal instruments under federal jurisdiction.
In terms of law enforcement, the first issue is the capacity of a first nation to draft, implement and enforce bylaws under existing regimes. It's expensive to draft bylaws. Many first nations don't have in-house counsel to assist them in drafting exercises to cover the many different layers that these bylaws must adhere to in order to be legally binding.
The issues may include, but aren't limited to, procedural fairness, privacy laws, human rights, charter rights and overall constitutionality.
Most recently, an RCMP detachment local to one of my clients stated that they are not able to enforce band bylaws on the reserve, with perhaps the exception of trespass bylaws, and that it was incumbent on first nations themselves to go through the onerous process of hiring an officer to enforce such bylaws. Additionally, the RCMP agent went on further to mention that some officers are not educated on how they could enforce such bylaws. However, I do want to highlight that there was an interest by the RCMP to assist in enforcement.
If they were given the tools to do so, first nations may be better suited to exercise the law-making capacities with the assistance of their neighbouring police detachments or through their own officers where applicable. This latter option obviously comes at the nation's own cost to draft bylaws; apply to become an authorized employer of an officer; purchase equipment, including appropriate vehicles, uniforms, firearms, etc.; and hire a fair complement of officers to ensure coverage to the nation. Many nations do not have spare funds to even consider engaging in these activities, as they have other pressing issues to deal with, including the ongoing demands of the pandemic.
Over the course of my work on these issues, I've been stonewalled by the Public Prosecution Service of Canada with regard to the enforcement of bylaws for first nations.
Mr. Richstone raised this issue before the committee the other day.
The public prosecutions office is not seized with the ability to prosecute these bylaws, which Mr. Richstone affectionately referred to as “community laws”.
I would argue that such bylaws, formed under the act, are within the ambit of federal laws, given the first nations' stature within the federation. However, I would go one step further and recognize that Mr. Richstone was correct in his statement that laws passed by first nations should be attracted with the appropriate enforcement by all levels of law enforcement in Canada. Many of your agents are offering their willingness to do so, and I would further argue that they are trying to be good treaty partners in extending their willingness to enforce our laws. It is now your turn.
In sum, I make three major recommendations: a review of the bylaw-making capacities of first nations to amend the act to reflect that first nations have the authority to enact laws, not just bylaws; that such laws be adequately funded for first nations to develop and/or enforce; and finally, that such laws be enforced by those charged to do so, akin to the laws of other law-making jurisdictions in the federation, including your own.
Kinanâskomitin.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
View Jaime Battiste Profile
Lib. (NS)
Yes, and I agree with you, Brooks, on that.
One of the things I'm hearing about from the chiefs is the inadequacy of expanding powers within the Indian Act. With all the treaties and all of the different jurisdictions, I have heard Indigenous Bar Association members in presentations talk about having a treaty or inherent right attorney general to help guide the current Attorney General to navigate some of these to ensure....
The bottom line is that people on reserve in indigenous communities want to feel safe and they want to know that their laws to keep themselves safe will not only be enforced but will be prosecuted. What kind of mechanism do we need on this?
You have about two minutes. Can you expand on what you see as being needed for us to be able to find solutions to this challenge?
Brooks Arcand-Paul
View Brooks Arcand-Paul Profile
Brooks Arcand-Paul
2021-05-13 12:59
Yes. Thank you again for the question, MP Battiste.
That is one good recommendation. It is one start to it. What we do recognize is that we have the framework. We have the Public Prosecution Service to be able to do so. We need to make those amendments to legislation. They're willing partners. You heard from Mr. Richstone a few days ago. He recommended that they be given the ability to do so. Having a treaty or an indigenous attorney general who would help advise would be a really good implementation.
What we also need to look at is getting justices onto the bench. Our top bench is currently without one. If we're going to be implementing indigenous laws and allowing these mechanisms to be exercised in our federation, we need to have those people represented on these benches. It's very important that we also look at that. It does reflect the society in which we live. Let's work on that.
It was a great suggestion to move forward. We also already have frameworks that we can use to move forward. The legislation just needs to be amended to reflect that ability to do so.
View Sylvie Bérubé Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
My question is for Mr. Arcand-Paul.
Public Safety Canada and the Minister of Indigenous Services Canada are talking about co-developing a legislative framework to recognize first nations policing as an essential service.
Can you tell me why a legislative framework is needed to ensure that first nations policing has the essential service status?
Brooks Arcand-Paul
View Brooks Arcand-Paul Profile
Brooks Arcand-Paul
2021-05-13 13:01
Thank you for the question, MP Bérubé.
I advocate very strongly the removal of paternalistic legislation. We don't need more legislation; we need more ability to do what we need to do on the ground. You see programs like those in Akwesasne. You see the Tsuut'ina down south here in Alberta, where we have indigenous policing on the ground. We don't need further legislative befoulment to be able to do so. We have the ability to put our own legislation in place.
We are the third level of government in this country. We are partners in Confederation. We have just as much ability to make decisions on our own. When we hear that the minister is looking to make more legislation, similar to what's happening with other areas of authority, I'm just going to say very broadly that we aren't asking for this to happen.
On the ground and in the community, no one is asking for the federal government to continue wading into our inherent right to govern ourselves. The mechanism for government to be able to fund it or make those changes is within your channels. You shouldn't be coming down to the level of the grassroots community to implement these measures. We just need the dollars to do it, and we can do it.
View Gary Vidal Profile
CPC (SK)
Sorry for our changing our order on you. Thank you so much.
I want to thank all the witnesses. This has been tremendous today, and there has been a lot of valuable information provided for us to consider in our recommendations.
I want to go down a very specific path and I want to open it up to any of you who want to jump in here.
One of the things we've heard over the times we've met on this matter over the last couple of weeks—and I think we've heard it over and over again today—is this concept of a jurisdictional quagmire that seems to be inherently in the system.
We've also heard of the concept of some really good partnerships that are working, and that there is willingness of the law enforcement agencies—whoever they are, whether it's RCMP or your own individual enforcement agencies—to enforce, but the prosecution and the process beyond that seems to be a challenge in what I would call this jurisdictional quagmire.
I want to open up with a really simple question. Instead of a five-year legislative development of this framework and many of those kinds of things, are there some really simple things that you would say...? If you could offer one piece of advice today that would make a difference tomorrow to get rid of some of the jurisdictional issues that you find yourselves facing every day, what would that be?
I'll open it up to whoever wants to go first, and I'd like to hear from as many of you as possible in the short time I have.
Connie Lazore
View Connie Lazore Profile
Connie Lazore
2021-05-13 13:08
Thank you, Chair.
For me, we need to be recognized at the same level as the federal government. For years I've heard “nation to nation” and I've constantly asked someone to define what that meant.
As I see us now, you have the federal, provincial, municipal, and eventually first nation governments. We are the first people of this country, Canada, everything. We are just literally the first people. We should be sitting eye to eye with the federal government, and there I see “nation to nation”. We should not be working with the provinces. We are being pushed down and held under their thumbs at the provincial level. We need to be eye to eye with the federal government.
I have a very difficult time waiting for Canada to decide that policing on first nations reserves is essential. It's the same thing with my fire department. They're not paid. I go across the river and they're all paid, right there in Cornwall, Ontario.
Why are we treated to a level that is a fourth-level government when you claim “nation to nation”? My one opinion, comment, recommendation, is treat us as your equal, and with respect.
Thank you, Chair.
Reginald Bellerose
View Reginald Bellerose Profile
Reginald Bellerose
2021-05-13 13:10
This is Reg Bellerose.
The Chair: Hi, Reg.
Chief Reginald Bellerose: Thanks, Gary.
It's very simple. Everyone needs to understand who the chiefs in Canada are. It's very, very simple. I look at it a little differently because of what I've been through. I don't see us as third level; I see the chiefs as the first level in this country. Just recognize that.
Thank you.
Brooks Arcand-Paul
View Brooks Arcand-Paul Profile
Brooks Arcand-Paul
2021-05-13 13:10
I really like the brevity of Chief Bellerose.
Just listen, also. It's really difficult, and we can sometimes get it into our heads that we have all the answers, but you have to listen to the people to know what those answers are and what the people want. That's what our chiefs are busy working on. That's what I am busy working on. I listen. Instead of talking and talking, we need to listen to be able to find concrete solutions.
Leon McNab
View Leon McNab Profile
Leon McNab
2021-05-13 13:11
Yes. I have a couple of comments. I'd like to make a suggestion.
Across Canada, we need to be comparable. Some of our communities are ahead, while some are left behind. We need to develop at a rate that's acceptable to everyone. A lot of our communities are not prepared in the areas of policing and fire safety. On fire safety, there are communities without fire trucks. I can go on and on, but I think that we need to recognize that first nations people need to develop, and if there is going to be a plan, it is important to have the involvement of our leaders, our chiefs and our people at those tables, where we can all develop at an even pace.
View Lenore Zann Profile
Lib. (NS)
Thank you very much, Chair.
Good afternoon, everybody.
I come to you from the unceded territory of the Mi'kmaq here in Nova Scotia.
First of all, I have to say that I completely agree with the witnesses who have been saying that we need indigenous self-government. The time has come; in fact, it has long since passed, but we need to do the right thing and get on that course.
As far as I'm concerned, we do speak nation to nation. I think that is a very important thing for all Canadians to learn to recognize, and [Technical difficulty—Editor] to that.
Also in that respect, I have to say that a great deal of systemic racism has existed in policing and in justice. I believe that because of that, there is, unfortunately, a distrust of law enforcement and an over-incarceration of indigenous people. I believe that is due directly to systemic racism and the impoverishment and abuse of first nations people, generation after generation after generation.
How do first nation policing services foster trust within their own community? Is there any best practice that can be followed in this regard, and how can we help make that happen?
Thank you.
Derek Yang
View Derek Yang Profile
Derek Yang
2021-05-13 13:16
Thank you, Chair, and thank you for the member's question.
To partly answer that question with regard to the distrust and issues with regard to law enforcement and policing specifically, historically we have had contracted policing in indigenous communities. You have people who are not from the community providing services to that community, which is why in 1992 the federal government enacted the first nations policing program and, along with that, the self-administered police service agreements, I believe.
As Chief Doss-Cody can attest, it's the success of having people who are from that community or people who are working with a service that is dedicated to the service of that specific community, and not an overarching agency like a provincial or municipal service, or even having the RCMP contracted in to provide that essential core and community policing. When you have that, you have a lot of rotational issues with RCMP officers or other officers being rotated out.
I believe Chief Bellerose spoke earlier with regard to consistently having re-engage with and re-meet new officers, and that is definitely an issue that's related to law enforcement and policing.
Having your own law enforcement services provides that essential culturally appropriate professional service, which a lot of times is not being met by contract services. That's not a blanket statement. There are some contract services that are doing great, but this underpins the importance of providing indigenous governments with the ability to have their own control and their own accountability measures for the service that's being provided.
View Jaime Battiste Profile
Lib. (NS)
Thank you for this.
I've been listening as this conversation has evolved, and I haven't heard a lot of solutions. I heard a lot of people saying it's complicated and it takes a lot of different jurisdictions. I'm wondering, if there was an indigenous attorney general in Canada who not only looked at the constitutional realm but also at section 35 aboriginal and treaty rights as well as what goes on on reserve, would it not help the situation to have one authority or one voice to be able to make those decisions that need to be made in a timely and effective manner?
I'll open it up.
Amichai Wise
View Amichai Wise Profile
Amichai Wise
2021-05-11 11:43
That perhaps is a viable solution. I don't know much about that potential solution, but I do think that on Thursday, my colleague at the Aboriginal Law Centre at the Department of Justice pointed to a couple of possible solutions, such as a ramp-up of specific administration of justice agreements. That is something that could definitely help.
You've heard from PPSC during the current pandemic about the short-term solutions on prosecuting COVID-related bylaws. They are out there, but I think a lot of people, the minister and others, share frustration on this issue, which is why it's important to have a conversation like this.
That's all I can respond at this point. If you'd like me to follow up further, I'm happy to.
View Lenore Zann Profile
Lib. (NS)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you so much for the testimony so far. This has been extremely interesting.
I do have a question for the SQ regarding the Viens commission.
In September of 2019, the Viens commission released its final report. The commission was formed in reaction to allegations from 10 indigenous women of abuse by Sûreté de Québec police officers assigned to Val-d'Or between 2002 and 2015. That commission's report was put forward with 142 calls for action.
Could witnesses please provide the committee with a progress report on implementation of the Viens commission's recommendations? For example, has there been a review of the ethics complaint process?
My next question is with regard to call for action number 37, which asks that a mixed intervention patrol—police officers and community workers—be set up for vulnerable persons, both in urban environments and in first nations and Inuit communities. Could you please give us an update on how that is going?
Anybody from the SQ can answer.
Marie-Hélène Guay
View Marie-Hélène Guay Profile
Marie-Hélène Guay
2021-05-11 13:09
Yes, we have focused our efforts on the joint patrol teams of workers and police officers, as I mentioned earlier.
Over the next three years, four new teams will be deployed to respond to these vulnerable people who are in need or who need to be referred to the appropriate resources. The joint indigenous community policing station was also established with the same idea in mind. Captain Durant may be able to give you more details on the responses in Val-d'Or.
View Gord Johns Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I do appreciate the questions from my colleague Madame Gill around the lack of consultation. The devil, I guess, we'll find in the details. We've been pushing very hard for the record amounts of money that will be necessary to bring wild salmon back to abundance. We were looking for a fivefold increase in the B.C. salmon restoration fund.
Mr. Hwang, you talked about having a wild salmon recovery plan. The system is not currently set up to bring wild salmon back from the state they're in. Can you speak a bit about what you'd like to see in the Pacific salmon secretariat and a restoration centre of expertise and how you think that should be developed and unfold, with, I imagine, a nation-to-nation-to-nation governance model with stakeholders? Can you speak about that?
Jason Hwang
View Jason Hwang Profile
Jason Hwang
2021-05-05 16:44
Sure, Mr. Johns. Thank you for the question.
I'll do my best to be brief. The idea of the secretariat is positive and enticing, but it will depend on the details.
I think it will help within DFO if they can reorganize around the idea of supporting salmon recovery and sustainability. Right now, the department is still organized around the old days, which means organized around going fishing for abundances of wild salmon, and circumstances have changed. There needs to be a change whereby the department's management objective and structure shift. I think the secretariat can support that.
It should also include collaboration and co-operation with B.C. Essentially DFO manages salmon and habitat and B.C. manages land and water. You can't manage those things independently. They're the same thing, and the jurisdictions that have that authority would ideally co-operate.
As I said in my opening statement, first nations and indigenous rights are critical. They are closest to the land. They're the ones in the homes where these salmon go back. Those things need to be integrated. Some ability to have independent participation that is able to report directly to senior levels and to elected officials would be ideal, because there can be tensions within any organization or structure, and the ability for an entity to speak freely based solely on the best interest of wild salmon sustainability would be ideal.
Drew Lafond
View Drew Lafond Profile
Drew Lafond
2021-04-29 12:30
Thank you for the invitation and apologies for the delays, everybody. Thank you kindly for your patience.
[Witness spoke in indigenous language]
[English]
My name is Drew Lafond. I'm here as the president of the Indigenous Bar Association in Canada. Serving as president, I'm in the second of a two-year term.
The IBA, by way of background, is a not-for-profit organization comprised of indigenous lawyers, judges, academics and students across Canada. Our mandate, generally, is to promote the advancement of legal and social justice for indigenous peoples in Canada and the development of laws and policies that affect indigenous people, generally.
In response to the request by the committee for submissions, the past year has been rife with examples about territorial sovereignty, broken treaty promises between the Crown and indigenous peoples and more shockingly, the disvalue of indigenous lives, particularly the lives of indigenous women and youth.
The COVID-19 pandemic is worsening the underlying legal, political health, economic and social injustices that indigenous peoples and communities face. Against this backdrop, the IBA is acutely concerned with the treatment of indigenous peoples in the recognition and respect of their human rights. The IBA responded to the events in the last year by finding some pragmatic and timely responses to the rapidly changing political, economic and social realities facing indigenous peoples.
The first initiative we undertook was in April 2020. We partnered with researchers at the Department of Indigenous Studies at the University of Saskatchewan to conduct an online survey that examined the legal impacts of COVID-19 and the ability of the legal profession to respond to those impacts. As part of that study, the participants primarily spoke about jurisdictional issues that they were facing, such as conflicts over who has the authority to regulate who's coming into indigenous communities and who has the authority in relation to a community's pandemic and health response. It includes the exacerbation of jurisdictional issues that were happening prior to the pandemic, including the state undermining indigenous laws and legal authorities. Participants expressed concerns regarding consultation and negotiations where existing agreements and precedents meant to uphold indigenous rights were too often being ignored in the interest of economic revitalization plans. Concerns were raised about the case delays, which have worsened an already slow process and deferred indigenous rights matters further. These delays are uneven, with indigenous clients having to wait for access to the courts while resource extraction approvals by the Crown continue at a regular and accelerated pace.
We must address the clear gendered issues in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. These include increased family violence, disproportionate family care responsibilities faced by indigenous women, access to safe and stable housing, gender violence outside of the home, concerns about industry or “man camps” posing dangers to the health and safety of nearby indigenous communities, and worsening economic inequalities for indigenous women. These gender-specific injustices create barriers to indigenous women being able enforce their rights and access meaningful, legal participation.
Secondly, the IBA worked with the UBC faculty of law, the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs' BC First Nations Justice Council, the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council and the first nations or indigenous legal clinic in B.C. to study 21 reports in the last 30 years concerning indigenous peoples in the justice system.
As a result of that study, we pulled 10 recommendations for immediate action, which I'll mention briefly here: create a national indigenous-led police oversight body; establish a national protocol for police investigations; redirect public safety funding to services that increase community safety; implement a multi-pronged indigenous de-escalation strategy; establish a national protocol for police engagement with indigenous peoples; amend Canadian and provincial-territorial human rights codes to include indigenous identity as a protected ground against discrimination; create indigenous courts; increase indigenous representation across all levels of the criminal justice system; and establish requirements that judges give written reasons in all indigenous sentencing cases and require that judges give written reasons in all indigenous child apprehension cases where a child is placed outside of the indigenous community.
Just to close off, during the COVID-19 pandemic, we're facing significant challenges in being able to centre our well-being and our legal rights, including our rights to health, access to our territories, to our laws and to self-determination. Canada has fiduciary obligation to support the enforcement of rights and protections for indigenous peoples.
Those are my submissions to the committee today. Thank you.
View Scott Reid Profile
CPC (ON)
Indigenous land rights issues strike me as being something that would be in play with that sector more frequently than with any other, except maybe forestry.
View Bob Bratina Profile
Lib. (ON)
Members of the committee, as we have quorum, I call this meeting to order, acknowledging first of all that in Ottawa we meet on the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin people, and all of us in our own territories will have other acknowledgements. In my case it would be Akwesasne, Haudenosaunee and Chonnonton first nations' traditional territories.
Pursuant to Standing Order 108 (2) and the motion adopted by the committee on October 27, 2020, the committee is resuming its clause-by-clause study of Bill C-15.
It's going to be an interesting day. I just want to thank everyone, first of all, for the way that these meetings have been conducted with regard to Bill C-15. There's some controversy, there are some differences of opinion, but I think all of our remarks, our debates and our considerations were in the best interests of the people for whom we are working, the first nations of Canada. I appreciate that. I would anticipate that today's meeting will be conducted in the same manner.
Having looked over all of the matters that are coming before us in conjunction and in consultation with the legislative clerks, I may be making some rulings as the chair. I want to assure everybody that none of the rulings will be on a partisan basis. They all have to do with the legislative functions, protocols and precedents and so on that are found in that giant green book that only the clerks seem to have a good handle on.
I'm working my way through it. I know that our clerk has reached page 250; I'm still somewhere in the preface. We'll do our best with regard to the rules of Parliament as we move forward.
With us today we have the witnesses from the Department of Justice: Laurie Sargent, assistant deputy minister, aboriginal affairs portfolio; Sandra Leduc, director and general counsel, Aboriginal Law Centre, aboriginal affairs portfolio; and Koren Marriott, senior counsel, Aboriginal Law Centre, aboriginal affairs portfolio.
In clause-by-clause consideration, the one thing I will ask us not to do is rush things through. We want to make sure that when we're done our work today, it is in a form presentable to Parliament. We'll therefore begin slowly.
Pursuant to Standing Order 75 (1), consideration of the preamble and of clause 1, the short title, was postponed, as per the precedents and order of work that we do. I will now call clause 2.
(On clause 2)
Clause 2 of Bill C-15 provides that the Government of Canada must “take all measures necessary to ensure that the laws of Canada are consistent with” the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and “must...prepare and implement an action plan to achieve the objectives of the Declaration.”
Jacques Maziade
View Jacques Maziade Profile
Jacques Maziade
2021-04-22 11:07
Maybe you could give the floor to the mover of the amendment. She will present it, and after that, if you have something to say, you can do so once she has presented her amendment.
View Bob Bratina Profile
Lib. (ON)
You're absolutely right.
Once again, the legislative clerks and our clerks will be stepping in from time to ensure that we're moving along in a proper manner. In this case, moving along in a proper manner provides that our guest today, Ms. Atwin, present her amendment.
Ms. Atwin, please do that, and then I'll discuss it as I had already begun to do.
Please go ahead.
View Jenica Atwin Profile
Lib. (NB)
View Jenica Atwin Profile
2021-04-22 11:07
Sure. This is PV-0.1. I'm just making sure.... Okay, great.
Thanks you very much, everyone, for letting me join today. I'm really appreciative. Happy Earth Day as well.
I'm coming from the unceded territory of the Wolastoqiyik, the beautiful and bountiful river here in Fredericton, New Brunswick, where I am privileged to work, learn and live.
The amendment I would like to propose is in clause 2, by adding after line 11 on page 4 the following: “Government of Canada has the meaning assigned by the definition government institution in section 3 of the Access to Information Act.”
What this expands upon is:
(a) any department or ministry of state of the Government of Canada, or any body or office, listed in Schedule 1, and
(b) any parent Crown corporation, and any wholly-owned subsidiary of such a corporation, within the meaning of section 83 of the Financial Administration Act;
By means of explaining and defending this amendment, it actually came forward through proposed amendments from the Assembly of First Nations. The objective of this amendment is to enshrine a clear and positive statement that the legislation binds the Crown and all institutions of the government. Bill C-15 does not expressly affirm that it binds Her Majesty The Queen in Right of Canada and all of its institutions. It may be implied, but I'm certainly here just to strengthen the legislation as much as possible.
While arguments can be made that Bill C-15 would implicitly or necessarily bind the Crown, because its purpose would be frustrated and contrary to the spirit of the act if the Crown or all Government of Canada institutions were not bound, the courts on this point are by no means clear or consistent in their interpretation. Federal legislation is likewise inconsistent. In light of this inconsistency and ambiguity, clear and unequivocal expression of legislation intent is required.
Again, I'm taking the lead here from some of the discussion that the Assembly of First Nations has put forward, and I ask for your consideration.
Thank you.
View Bob Bratina Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thanks very much, Ms. Atwin. I appreciate your intervention.
I'll go back once again to the review of the matter, which was that Bill C-15 is providing that the Government of Canada must “take all measures necessary to ensure that the laws of Canada are consistent with” the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People and must “prepare and implement an action plan to achieve the objectives of the Declaration.”
The amendment seeks to give the term “Government of Canada” the meaning of “government institution” as it is defined in section 3 of the Access to Information Act. Thus, the term “Government of Canada” would have a broader meaning.
House of Commons Procedure and Practice, that giant book I referred to, third edition, states the following on page 770:
An amendment to a bill that was referred to committee after second reading is out of order if it is beyond the scope and principle of the bill.
In the opinion of the chair, based on consultation with the legislative group, this new definition of “Government of Canada” is beyond the scope of the bill, and so I would rule that this amendment is inadmissible.
On that matter, unless there's further discussion, Ms. Atwin, I will leave the ruling as such, that your proposed amendment is inadmissible.
View Bob Bratina Profile
Lib. (ON)
Ms. Atwin, thank you for that.
We're moving along. I apologize. I think, like most people in the room, I have scads of paper all over the place, and it's sometimes hard to put my finger on the exact thing we need to refer to.
We go now to BQ-1.
Let me fish that one out and put that one away, and ask you if BQ-1 shall carry. All in favour of BQ-1?
Jacques Maziade
View Jacques Maziade Profile
Jacques Maziade
2021-04-22 11:12
Mr. Chair, maybe Madam Gill will want to move the amendment and speak to it a little bit.
View Marilène Gill Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
It's simple. In fact, the idea of replacing “Canadian law” with “federal law” reflects Parliament's intent, which is that it should apply only to federal statutes and not provincial ones. The term “Canadian law” suggests that the provinces and Quebec are included.
View Bob Bratina Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Ms. Gill.
Shall BQ-1 carry?
The amendment is negatived.
On NDP-1, can I ask Ms. Gazan to present that?
View Leah Gazan Profile
NDP (MB)
Thank you so much, Chair.
To let everybody know, I'm having technical issues that I'm trying to resolve. I have a whole bunch of blank pages.
Are you speaking about reference 11236767?
View Leah Gazan Profile
NDP (MB)
This is our proposed amendment that Bill C-15, in clause 2, be amended by adding after line 25 on page 4 the following:
For greater certainty, the rights of Indigenous peoples, including treaty rights, are capable of growth and evolution, and a frozen rights theory is incompatible with section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
The importance of a clear definition of the living tree doctrine has been brought up by elected and unelected leadership throughout the country, and my amendment reflects that.
View Jamie Schmale Profile
CPC (ON)
I have a quick question in regard to the last motion, the Bloc motion.
It failed. Was it the Liberals and the NDP who voted against it? My Hollywood Squares display here didn't show anything, so I didn't see who voted and who didn't.
Naaman Sugrue
View Naaman Sugrue Profile
Naaman Sugrue
2021-04-22 11:15
If the amendment is not either carried or carried on division, then the most appropriate way to deal with it would be a recorded vote. The options for decisions on amendments are consensus agreement, agreement on division and recorded vote.
View Bob Bratina Profile
Lib. (ON)
I thought we had consensus, but I'm open to any other suggestions.
We'll have Mr. Anandasangaree and then Ms. Gill.
View Gary Anandasangaree Profile
Lib. (ON)
I acknowledge and appreciate the work of Ms. Gazan in this regard. We definitely support the intent behind this amendment.
The Supreme Court has repeatedly indicated that—
View Arnold Viersen Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Chair, can we back up for a second here? We're zooming back and forth a bit.
The last amendment seems to have failed on division. I would hope that would be the case. I didn't realize that I gave any indication whatsoever. I was sitting here waiting for a recorded division, or—
View Bob Bratina Profile
Lib. (ON)
Fine, we'll do that again. We'll resolve that issue.
It seemed to me, in my view of the gallery, that the motion was lost, but we'll move in accordance with your wishes.
View Arnold Viersen Profile
CPC (AB)
I guess if we want to do that....
All I need from Ms. Gazan is where she was on that one. I couldn't see from here where that went.
View Marilène Gill Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair. That greatly facilitates the roster.
I wanted to intervene after the comments from my colleague, Mr. Schmale, because I think something was left somewhat vague. For the next Bloc Québécois amendments, which are virtually in the same order, and for which it's a matter of consistency, I'm going to request a recorded vote. You can't tell what position is being held by people just by looking at them. I would therefore prefer to have their positions clearly stated and recorded.
View Marcus Powlowski Profile
Lib. (ON)
I was just going to agree with Mr. Viersen. Could we not possibly be a little more specific as to where the amendment is going? You cite amendment blah, blah, blah, but I don't know which section is being amended. It's not clear to me.
Could we just say “section 2, where the proposal is to amend it in such and such”? Like Mr. Viersen, I'm just not clear where these proposed amendments are going.
View Bob Bratina Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thanks for that.
When the motion is presented, there is reference in the proposal to what you're asking, but we'll go over that again.
Go ahead, Mr. Anandasangaree.
View Gary Anandasangaree Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Chair, might I just ask you to resolve the previous matter? A number of people have brought it up, so maybe we could do a roll call vote on it, and with Ms. Gazan's indulgence, we can come back to her amendment.
In the meantime, for the benefit of the members, I just want to suggest that they pull out the agenda that was circulated by the clerk. The agenda has a very clear outline of what's being discussed today, corresponding to the package that was sent by the clerk last night or earlier this morning, with one addition that was sent by me this morning.
For the benefit of the members, it would be good to have all of that available, whether in print form or on the computer, so that people could follow that.
View Bob Bratina Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you for that. The clerks did quite a bit of work to inform members of the committee, and if you don't have the printed material in front of you, it will be somewhat laborious to reinterpret everything from the chair as we proceed. You should have quite a group of pages stating the various amendments. They're all here in front of us.
On the request of Mr. Anandasangaree and Ms. Gill, I'm going to ask that we revert to the matter that apparently wasn't clearly handled and ask about....
Let's start with Ms. Atwin's amendment.
On Ms. Atwin's amendment, I ruled that it was inadmissible, so that's clear and we move past that to the first Bloc amendment.
On the Bloc amendment—
Jacques Maziade
View Jacques Maziade Profile
Jacques Maziade
2021-04-22 11:21
Mr. Chair, I suggest that you ask for a recorded division so it will be clear this time.
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