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Results: 1 - 100 of 152
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
Mr. Chair, it's an honour to rise in this place to present two petitions today.
The first is from a number of constituents and others who have signed the e-petition calling for the federal government to examine the need for a permanent federal funding mechanism for public transit. The petitioners note that the current 10-year transit plan will end in 2027 and that having low-emission public transport is very important for meeting long-term climate goals. They ask that the federal government provide a permanent federal funding mechanism to go well beyond the 10-year transit plan and to work with all levels of government to provide sustainable, predictable, long-term and adequate funding.
The second petition speaks to the issue that gripped the country so much just months ago, but is not forgotten, which is the conflict on Wet'suwet'en territory over the Coastal GasLink and the need for the Government of Canada to uphold the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action. They call for the RCMP to stand down and note that the RCMP has violated the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I present two petitions this morning.
The residents of Saanich—Gulf Islands are calling on the government to simplify the process for protection of marine protected areas. It's a multi-layered communication process. The marine protected area first proposed in the 1970s for the southern Strait of Georgia, now called the Salish Sea, has been awaiting designation for so long that it was originally endorsed by Jacques Cousteau. That gives us a sense for why petitioners are calling for a simplified and more rapid process.
The second petition is from petitioners who are very concerned about our obligations under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and our commitments under the Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls to action. They specifically reference the RCMP violation of UNDRIP in its actions on Wet'suwet'en territory and ask the government to commit to actually living the principles embodied in UNDRIP.
View Paul Manly Profile
GP (BC)
Mr. Chair, it's an honour and a privilege to present a petition on behalf of the constituents of Nanaimo—Ladysmith.
People are concerned about gas fracking and the use of methane and the destruction that methane causes to our atmosphere and with climate change. They're calling on the government to commit to upholding the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action by immediately halting all existing and planned construction of the Coastal GasLink project on the Wet'suwet'en territory, and by ordering the RCMP to dismantle their exclusion zone and to stand down. They also call on the government to schedule nation-to-nation talks between the Wet'suwet'en nation and the federal and provincial governments—which is something that we're happy to see has been happening and I commend the government for that effort—and to prioritize the implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
Mr. Chair, I rise to present two petitions on this anniversary of the massacre at Tiananmen Square.
The first petition is from petitioners concerned about human rights in the People's Republic of China and the detention of practitioners of Falun Dafa or Falun Gong. They call on the Government of Canada and the Minister of Foreign Affairs to impress the importance of universal human rights upon the government of the People's Republic of China and to allow swifter accommodation of human rights within the People's Republic of China.
The second petition pertains to human rights within Canada. It calls on the Government of Canada to follow and be accountable to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, to fulfill the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and to move forward swiftly to meet the expectations of justice for the Wet'suwet'en people.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
Mr. Chair, it's an honour to rise to present a petition today from a number of constituents calling for the government to act to uphold the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action. There is a call to respect the Wet'suwet'en territory and to dismantle RCMP exclusion zones.
This petition came some time ago. Some of these issues have been dealt with. I am particularly pleased to note that the nation-to-nation talks called for by petitioners between the Wet'suwet'en and the federal and provincial governments have taken place. I will take this moment if I may to thank the honourable ministers involved in that effort.
Thank you.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
Mr. Chair, it's an honour to present a petition on behalf of my constituents in Saanich—Gulf Islands. Of course, this petition has taken some time to reach the virtual floor of our Parliament, given the pandemic.
The petitioners are calling on the Government of Canada and the House of Commons to uphold the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as well as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's calls to action in relation to UNDRIP. They call for the immediate halting of all existing and planned construction of Coastal GasLink projects on Wet'suwet'en territory. They also call for the scheduling of nation-to-nation talks, which we can acknowledge has commenced, but they also further call on prioritizing the real implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
View Paul Manly Profile
GP (BC)
Mr. Chair, I have a petition today sent in by members of my constituency of Nanaimo—Ladysmith.
It calls upon the House of Commons in Parliament assembled to commit to upholding the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's Calls to Action by immediately putting a halt to all existing and planned construction of the Coastal GasLink project on Wet'suwet'en territory, ordering the RCMP to dismantle its exclusion zone and stand down, scheduling nation-to-nation talks between the Wet'suwet'en nation and the federal and provincial government—something that has already happened, and I'm sure that the petitioners would be pleased that the government has taken that action—and prioritizing the real implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
View Paul Manly Profile
GP (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
This petition was signed and sent in by constituents of my riding of Nanaimo—Ladysmith.
It calls upon the House of Commons to commit to upholding the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada by immediately halting all existing and planned construction of the Coastal GasLink project on Wet'suwet'en territory, ordering the RCMP to dismantle its exclusion zone and stand down, scheduling nation-to-nation talks between the Wet'suwet'en nation and the federal and provincial governments—something that has already happened, thankfully—and prioritizing the real implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
View Bob Bratina Profile
Lib. (ON)
Welcome, everyone, to the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs.
I would like to start by acknowledging that we're meeting on the traditional territory of the Algonquin people. I'd also like to point out that we have some young ladies here who are part of the Women in House program and are shadowing members of Parliament.
Welcome to those ladies.
Also our former colleague, Mr. Romeo Saganash, has joined us today. It's good to see you again.
Some hon. members: Hear, hear!
The Chair: We have a busy schedule. We'll get under way with the first committee business, dealing with the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure. It met on Thursday, February 27 to discuss the future business of the committee. A copy of its report has been distributed to members for their consideration.
Is it the pleasure of the committee to concur in the second report of the subcommittee?
(Motion agreed to)
The Chair: Thank you very much.
Pursuant to Standing Order 108(2) and the motion adopted by the committee on Thursday, February 27, the committee will now begin its study of the indigenous crisis in Quebec and Canada.
With us today, we have the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and the Minister of Indigenous Services along with their respective deputy ministers. Each minister has been given up to 10 minutes to make opening statements, and then we'll proceed with questions and answers.
With us, we have the the Honourable Carolyn Bennett—
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
I have a point of order.
Chair, I was asking about whether this meeting was televised and, sadly, it isn't. Given that it's such a top-of-mind issue and so important to our country, why isn't it being televised today?
View Bob Bratina Profile
Lib. (ON)
The answer is that the television isn't always available. It is webcast, so it's certainly available to anybody who wants to see it. We have media present in the chamber right now. It's just one of those things where we didn't have the service available today.
View Bob Bratina Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Schmale had asked, and we put the request in, but this is what we have.
Mr. Schmale.
View Jamie Schmale Profile
CPC (ON)
Also on that, Chair, given that we're running a bit behind by 10 minutes, I'd like to seek unanimous consent to extend this portion by 10 minutes.
View Bob Bratina Profile
Lib. (ON)
All in favour?
(Motion agreed to)
The Chair: Thanks, Mr. Schmale.
Minister Bennett, would you like to begin, please?
View Carolyn Bennett Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
It's a pleasure to be back before this committee for the first time in the new Parliament, especially with so many new faces on this truly important committee for Canada. I, too, want to begin by acknowledging that we are on the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin people.
I am pleased to be here with my honourable colleague the Minister of Indigenous Services, Mr. Marc Miller, and our deputy ministers.
We understand that we've been asked to talk about the recent blockades and protests across the country, but I think I'm here mainly to talk about the complex underlying issues at their core. Our government understands that the recent rail blockades have had real impacts on Canadians, businesses and people across the country who rely on a working rail service to get to work, transport goods and keep their businesses running successfully, and also on indigenous peoples.
I think, as you know, that across all government departments, we're working around the clock to resolve this in a peaceful and lasting way. We welcomed the news last week that the remaining rail blockades had been removed and that regular rail service is resuming.
I think we understand that Canadians have been frustrated as they saw the impacts of the recent rail blockades continue, and some opposition politicians, we worry, were unfortunately focused on, as I think I said in the House of Commons, exploiting divisions within a community, which is not going to get us to lasting solutions and the kind of healing needed.
As the Prime Minister said so eloquently, Canadians expect us to work together to get through this together.
Marc and I are here to answer questions you may have because we believe it's really important that all of us truly understand the complexity and sensitivity of the situation and the danger of some of the inflammatory rhetoric we have heard in recent weeks.
As a physician, I am reminded that it's also the obligation of all parliamentarians to firstly do no harm. We need a lasting solution so that nations can take decisions together to achieve the certainty required for first nations, Métis and Inuit to ensure that their communities are healthy and vibrant.
The issues at the heart of this situation extend beyond a particular project, and deal with complex matters of indigenous governance, rights and title.
Over the past several weeks, my B.C. counterpart and I have been in ongoing communication with the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs to try to de-escalate the situation and find a path forward to deal with these issues in a substantive way. While policing decisions are made independently and free from political influence, we were pleased that the RCMP in B.C. worked with the Wet'suwet'en to make operational changes to de-escalate the situation and make room for the in-person talks between the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs and the federal and provincial governments.
We were also encouraged that Coastal GasLink independently agreed to pause work on the project during in-person discussions to help make that possible, and we were very grateful for Nathan Cullen's work in the de-escalating of the situation among all parties.
The weekend before last, when I met in Smithers with the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs and the B.C. government, we had very frank and substantive discussions, guided by respect, on issues around Wet'suwet'en rights and title. We were also pleased that the members of the Wet'suwet'en Matrilineal Coalition participated in the first night of the meeting, and we were able to hear their very important perspective directly. These talks focused on two separate issues: the recognition of Wet'suwet'en indigenous rights and title throughout their territory and the issues arising out of the Coastal GasLink project. These topics were discussed separately, and with respect to rights and title, the parties focused intensely on the commitments to an expedited process to implement Wet'suwet'en rights and title.
The result of these discussions was a draft arrangement that will be reviewed by the Wet'suwet'en clan members in their clans and in their houses through the Wet'suwet'en governance protocols for ratification. I believe that over these two weeks...that they need that space to have those conversations independently of outside voices. I believe that the removal of the remaining rail blockades last week and the resumption of rail service provides the Wet'suwet'en nation with that space to have this important conversation of rights and title within their territory.
Out of respect for the process, Canada has agreed that the Wet'suwet'en Nation would have the time to consider the details of this arrangement before it was made public. If ratified, Minister Fraser and I have agreed to return to the Wet'suwet'en territory to sign it, and the parties have agreed to implement title on an expedited basis and to coordinate how we will work together. We are inspired by the courageous Wet'suwet'en people who took the recognition of their rights to the Supreme Court of Canada in the historic Delgamuukw-Gisday'wa case in 1997. We need to be clear that the court did not, at that time, grant title to their lands; it affirmed the rights of the Wet'suwet'en, but said that the question of title was to be determined at a later time and then implemented.
I believe that this arrangement with the Wet'suwet'en people will now be able to breathe life into the Delgamuukw-Gisday'wa decision so that future generations do not have to face conflicts like the one that they face today. As the late chief Wah tah Kwets said in the Delgamuukw case, “It is up to us to create a new memory in the minds of our children.”
While work remains, these talks have been an important step on reconciling complex matters of rights and title.
From education to fisheries, to child and family services, to policing, to court systems, we have made important strides forward in the hard work of what Lee Crowchild describes as “deconstructing the effects of colonization”.
Over the past five years, we have been moving away from the parameters of the Comprehensive Land Claims and Inherent Right policies.
Our government's approach to negotiating rights-related agreements is being developed through lessons learned from the over 150 recognition of indigenous rights and self-determination discussion tables across Canada. These negotiations involve almost one million indigenous people from 480 first nations, 44 Inuit communities and seven Métis organizations. Since 2015, we have been advancing interest-based discussions and ensuring that co-development is the core of any negotiations with indigenous groups.
In 2019, the governments of Canada and British Columbia and the First Nations Summit co-developed the recognition of reconciliation rights policy for treaty negotiations in British Columbia. This new policy eliminates the concepts that were the barriers to future treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements, including extinguishment and cede and surrender. It demonstrates Canada's commitment to working collaboratively with indigenous and provincial partners, based on the affirmation and implementation of indigenous rights and in accordance with the principles of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Together we are committed to resolving the issues we face and to implementing Wet'suwet'en rights and title. We understand that we are in a critical time together, and we are committed to building a new path together with indigenous peoples across Canada.
Meegwetch.
View Marc Miller Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you, Chair.
I want to start by acknowledging that we are gathered here today on the traditional and unceded territory of the Algonquin peoples.
I know that this directly impacted many of you in the room today, as it impacted the communities you represent, and the lives of your constituents.
The conversations that happened in Smithers with Minister Bennett are a positive and vital step, but there's no doubt that there's more work to do, work that many of you in this room know well as members of this important parliamentary committee. There's a lot of work to be done in addressing the underlying concerns of the Wet'suwet'en and the resulting solidarity actions that took place across the country.
However, I'm glad that together we can demonstrate a peaceful, achievable resolution. I believe the easy way is not always the right way. Sometimes using force is a sign of weakness. Over the past few weeks, we've seen the result of ignorance, fear and lack of understanding in vitriolic messages and comments online, through stories of individuals being targeted in public and private, and we saw that not far from here in Ottawa. An indigenous youth group had to move their planned weekly gathering due to the receipt of a death threat.
I think this shows that we have a long way to go when it comes to learning the dark parts of the history of this unreconciled country and its peoples, and truly making an effort to learn from one another and listen.
I've said this before and I'll continue to say it: When we don't have an open and honest dialogue, we simply can't move forward together.
Consistent, open and respectful dialogue is paramount to achieve peace, cooperation and prosperity in this country for all peoples.
It's in this spirit of peace and co-operation that I gathered with members of the Kanyen’kehá:ka along the rail tracks in Tyendinaga, as members will know. We pursued an open dialogue and made concerted efforts to move towards a peaceful resolution. Modest but important progress was made through this dialogue.
However, there was an immense amount of suspicion towards my presence—fear it was a ruse and that the police would move in. It's not every day that people are surrounded by police, and the reactions are normal. Parts of the conversation with the leadership of the community, elders and community members, including women and children, were very difficult, very painful and very personal. Upsetting stories were shared about this country's troubling treatment of indigenous peoples.
These are very serious issues which demand our attention, and have demanded it for hundreds of years, and there's no place in this discussion for rhetoric and vitriol.
The question I have found myself asking in the last few weeks is this: are we going to do things the way we have always done them, which has brought us to this point in our relationship, or do we take a new approach that engages in a true government-to-government relationship?
My greatest challenge in the past month in particular, but in the relationship in general, is trust. It prevents the best and most well-thought-out initiatives from moving forward. It is clear that our work must earn that trust over time.
In looking towards building a better future where we earn that trust, I believe it's important to acknowledge the past. For almost 500 years, indigenous peoples have faced discrimination in every aspect of their lives. The Crown, in part, has prevented a true equal partnership from developing with indigenous peoples, imposing instead a relationship based on colonial, paternalistic ways of thinking and doing. This approach has resulted in a legacy of devastation, pain and suffering, and it's not acceptable.
Many of us know where this has gotten us: a broken child and family system where indigenous children up to the age of 14 make up over 50% of kids in foster care even though they represent 7.7% of all Canadian children; shocking rates of suicide among indigenous youth, causing untold pain and hurt that will plague families and communities for generations to come; untenable housing situations where water that is unsafe to drink or even bathe in comes out of the taps; and communities that don't have reliable access to roads, health centres, or even schools.
When we formed government 4 years ago, we made many significant promises including on some of these areas I just touched upon.
We have delivered on much of that but the most important lesson we learned was that everything has to be done in true partnership. That Canada will succeed when we follow the voices of those whom we have ignored and disrespected for far too long, and those who lead communities across this country.
We know that there is no quick fix for the decades of systemic discrimination that indigenous peoples in Canada have faced. But our government is committed to putting in the time, energy and resources to right past wrongs and build a better way forward for future generations.
We do our best to undertake this work in a way that departs from much of our shared history—a history in which the inherent rights, leadership and cultural vitality have not been respected as they should have been.
Our approach is founded on partnership and co-development and is anchored in listening to indigenous leaders, elders, youth and community members and working to support their attainment of their goals based on their priorities.
Since 2016, we've invested $21 billion in the priorities of indigenous partners, priorities that have been set by indigenous partners, and together we've made some progress, but we still have a long way to close the unacceptable socio-economic gap that exists between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples.
For hundreds of years, indigenous peoples have been calling on the Canadian government to recognize and affirm their jurisdiction over their own affairs, to have control and agency over their land, housing, education, governance system and child and family services. Self-determination improves the well-being and prosperity of indigenous communities, and that's something all Canadians should strive to support.
There is no question that self-determination is a better way forward.
Self-governing indigenous peoples have a proven track record of greater socio-economic success. More children are completing high school, fewer people are unemployed, and health outcomes are much better. Indigenous-led initiatives are more successful, as we have seen time and time again.
There is a critical need to support nation and community-led success in every indigenous community in Canada, not just in education, but also in health care, water and resource management, child and family services, in short, in all sectors.
This is why our government continues to work on shifting policies to recognize the inherent right of self-government for first nations, Inuit and Métis. That means moving to novel models of indigenous government and supporting indigenous communities to assert their rights.
We are working to support first nations to opt out of sections of the Indian Act in areas such as land, environment, resource management and elections. As an example, we're working with indigenous institutions in first nations to develop the tools they need to drive local economic development, empower their communities and promote prosperity.
Since 2019, nine first nations have begun operating under their community-ratified land codes through the framework agreement on first nations land management and the First Nations Land Management Act. In addition, 18 first nations have joined the 264 other first nations asserting jurisdiction in the area of fiscal governance by opting into the First Nations Fiscal Management Act.
Self-determination is key to unlocking economic potential, creating opportunities for growth and closing socio-economic gaps. We know that with advancing self-determination, the potential for success is enormous—success of indigenous peoples and, frankly, all of Canada.
To get there, we need to understand that recognizing and affirming rights is a first step in finding a way forward. We need to support indigenous partners to identify our challenges and then we need to rise to those challenges. Finally, we need to recognize that the most important actions we can take are to listen to the hard truths, embrace change and welcome creative ideas. A transformation like that will take determination, persistence, patience and truth telling.
The work ahead of us will be difficult. As I mentioned, this path will require a lot from us. We will have to work in true partnership and listen, even when the truth will be hard to hear. We will have to continue to communicate, even when we disagree. We will need to continue to collaborate and look for creative ways to move forward, as well as new paths to healing and true understanding.
We've all seen what happens when we fail to maintain dialogue. This leads to mistrust and confusion, which can cause conflict and hinder our common journey. I want to be clear: it is up to the rights holders to determine who speaks for them about their indigenous rights and title. We will continue to work toward continuing these conversations. Despite all these challenges, I know that the hard work ahead of us is well worth the effort.
Together, we can build a better Canada, and that's what we're going to do. It will be a country in which healthy, prosperous and self-reliant indigenous nations will be key partners. We have the opportunity to learn from our shared history, to share our pain and even our joy, and to do the work that will result in a country where everyone can succeed.
I look forward to working with my colleagues on all sides to realize this essential work and enormous potential. It requires the participation of all Canadians.
I look forward to answering any questions you may have.
Meegwetch.
View Jamie Schmale Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Thank you, Ministers, for appearing today.
I was encouraged by your appearance, Minister Bennett, but I was disappointed by your words, especially at the beginning when you talked about creating divisions within the community. I think that was extremely unfair. I'm very disappointed by those words, but they don't surprise me given the pattern of this government, where the failures of this government are always someone else's fault, especially the opposition's.
Having said that, using your words about creating divisions within the Wet'suwet'en Nation, did you meet with the elected chiefs during your visit to British Columbia?
View Carolyn Bennett Profile
Lib. (ON)
The matriarchs came to the meeting. I did not meet with the elected chiefs. The Delgamuukw complaint was taken by the hereditary chiefs. That is the group that believes they have governance over the whole of the territory. We met with them first.
As you know, the proposed arrangement will go back to the clans and the houses where the elected chiefs will participate. I am more than happy to meet with the elected chiefs at any time.
View Jamie Schmale Profile
CPC (ON)
But given that the issue of title has effects on the Coastal GasLink project, as well as the elected bodies within the nation, would it not have made sense to include those elected members at those meetings rather than create divisions within the community?
View Carolyn Bennett Profile
Lib. (ON)
I think it was indeed the hereditary chiefs who had raised their concerns. It was the hereditary chiefs who had mounted the support from coast to coast to coast. Therefore, the resolution was going to come with the hereditary chiefs at the beginning. Then we will meet with the elected chiefs.
View Jamie Schmale Profile
CPC (ON)
If you're trying to get this project to go ahead, why did you not include the people who are in support of moving this project forward? Why would you only include the voices that were against it—the one side of this story?
View Carolyn Bennett Profile
Lib. (ON)
Jamie, as I think you know, the project is a B.C. project totally. It's their processes, their permits, their way forward. My job—
View Carolyn Bennett Profile
Lib. (ON)
My job is to make sure that the nation comes together and heals as a whole, and the concerns of the hereditary chiefs needed to be heard.
View Jamie Schmale Profile
CPC (ON)
Given your comment, again, about creating divisions in the community, were all hereditary chiefs included in this meeting, including those who supported the Coastal GasLink project?
View Carolyn Bennett Profile
Lib. (ON)
Some of the hereditary chiefs who support the project were certainly there on Thursday night. We heard from each of them individually. They were mainly members of the matrilineal coalition. Then they were able to meet with the other hereditary chiefs. There was a decision taken by the hereditary chiefs in our meeting to take the proposed arrangement back to everybody so that the whole of the nation would take this decision together.
View Jamie Schmale Profile
CPC (ON)
Again, Minister, you're blaming the opposition for this, yet you and the provincial government did not invite those who had an interest in supporting this project. Of course, when you're dealing with title, the decision of any agreement affects the project, affects everyone within the community, and yet you are saying the opposition's at fault here. But you did not include the other side of the story—the people who support it, who will benefit.
View Carolyn Bennett Profile
Lib. (ON)
As we said, this was a B.C. project. Certainly, the B.C. government had heard from the elected chiefs—
View Carolyn Bennett Profile
Lib. (ON)
—but also, Coastal GasLink had impact benefit agreements with most of them. This was a B.C. project. My job was to carry on from what had been decided in the Delgamuukw decision so that in the future, the whole of the nation would create the kind of governance model and decision-making processes that we are now seeing in Gitanyow and Heiltsuk and Haida. When the elected chiefs and the hereditary chiefs come together in a governance model with their own laws and policies, that is the way forward and that is the only durable solution.
My appearance was not about one project. It's about the future of Canada.
View Jamie Schmale Profile
CPC (ON)
It is, but when you exclude the people who are in support of the project, you silence one half, or probably more, of this debate. If you're only hearing from one side against a project, when you're negotiating title, which has impacts, again, you're leaving out the other side.
But I won't dwell on that, because we have only a minute left.
View Carolyn Bennett Profile
Lib. (ON)
Jamie, I don't think you heard me. I said the matriarchs were there. I heard from each of them on Thursday—
View Carolyn Bennett Profile
Lib. (ON)
The matriarchs each spoke.
Mr. Jamie Schmale: They were told to leave.
Hon. Carolyn Bennett: Each spoke.
View Carolyn Bennett Profile
Lib. (ON)
It wasn't my meeting—
Mr. Jamie Schmale: They weren't there to discuss anything.
Hon. Carolyn Bennett: —but they all had a voice. The process—
View Jamie Schmale Profile
CPC (ON)
How do they have a voice if they're not there?
Hon. Carolyn Bennett: They were there, Jamie.
Mr. Jamie Schmale: They were there at the beginning, then they were removed—
Hon. Carolyn Bennett: No.
Mr. Jamie Schmale: —and then they were there the third day.
View Carolyn Bennett Profile
Lib. (ON)
No, they weren't removed.
Mr. Jamie Schmale: But we have—
Hon. Carolyn Bennett: There was a half-day meeting between the hereditary chiefs and the people supporting the project for a great part of Friday.
View Carolyn Bennett Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Jamie Schmale Profile
CPC (ON)
Well, I started that, and then your divisive language at the beginning derailed me.
Having said that, when you're talking about the title—
View Jamie Schmale Profile
CPC (ON)
—when you allow the communities, will you bring this before Parliament after the Wet'suwet'en people...? If they ratify this, will you bring it before Parliament before you sign the deal?
View Carolyn Bennett Profile
Lib. (ON)
As you know, these conversations are starting to happen between the hereditary chiefs and the nation. This is an exciting time.
View Carolyn Bennett Profile
Lib. (ON)
Most section 35 agreements remain confidential until their ratification by the nation. That's normal in labour agreements and in section 35 agreements. Impact benefit agreements, however, remain confidential.
We are breaking new ground here, Jamie.
View Jaime Battiste Profile
Lib. (NS)
Thank you, Mr. Chair and wela'lioq to the ministers for being here.
Prior to the establishment of the Indian Act and Canada, there existed several different governing structures across Canada. We are framing this as a project dispute, but this is about reconciliation moving forward over generations. With that in mind, there are several traditional and hereditary governing structures that exist across Canada today.
Could the ministers update us on how we've engaged traditional or hereditary governments, and could you share with us what we've learned about the complexities involved in creating improved relationships with traditional structures of governance?
View Carolyn Bennett Profile
Lib. (ON)
Two years ago I was able and honoured to be at the ceremony where the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs signed an agreement with Canada on child and family services, and that work is ongoing. As you well know, Jamie, in some parts of Canada the hereditary chiefs became the elected chiefs. In other parts that governance has stayed. Marc will add a little about how the Haudenosaunee take decisions. Right now, we have signed an agreement with Heiltsuk, which includes the hereditary and elected chiefs. The Haida already have an agreement in the way they work together. With Stó:lo, even in the B.C. treaty process, those two groups are coming together. Maybe Marc will talk a bit about it.
View Marc Miller Profile
Lib. (QC)
I think you are familiar, Jaime, with some of the hereditary structures that exist in Mi'kmaq communities and some of the challenges that have been faced there with respect to elected band councils and, in fact, with some of the progress that has been made. It is absolutely uneven throughout the country
I think, as Carolyn summarized, some progress has been made out west in starting to create the basis for engagement with hereditary leadership. In the country, the Indian Act-imposed band council system is viewed in many indigenous communities as colonialist and paternalistic. It has removed, and the Government of Canada has consciously contributed to remove, structures that existed well before the existence of Canada that are highly democratic in nature and have a very rich history.
As a country and as a nation that wants to move forward with what we call reconciliation, we cannot ignore those voices, conscious of the fact that at times the government, as I mentioned earlier, has been deliberate in dismantling those structures. In some cases we have had very little engagement, if any. I, myself, have been involved in opening dialogues with the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. They are modest. They tend to be not in the public sphere. But there is a lot of work to be done. There is an immense amount of complexity in that relationship because we're talking about many nations that cross the U.S. border as well. It is something that has created within certain communities, in fact, the crisis of legitimacy. This isn't to say that elected band councils are not fierce defenders of their communities. They are. It just has created a reality where there is sometimes a perceived sense of illegitimacy that has contributed to frustrate not only the relationship but the ability to work in partnership. It is something that we are realizing, probably more slowly than we should, but we are realizing it and we need to address fundamental issues that Carolyn had to face over a four-day period with respect to lands and title that had been recognized in the Delgamuukw decision. Simply saying to yourself that you're only going to engage with this particular band council because it suits your needs is highly utilitarian in thinking and not the right way to approach things.
There are some communities that are entirely comfortable with an elected system, and there are some communities that wish to do a different job and move forward. That's why we have all those instruments that I named in my opening remarks. For some communities, that doesn't work and we have to realize that and get creative and see how we come together. This will all contribute to stability, good governance and respect for the relationship, which is perhaps the element of respect and truth that is missing. But I think it is the right way to advance the nation. It can be complicated. It can be messy. But we can't sit here and say we're going to go dictate the terms on which we engage, whether it's rights recognition frameworks or otherwise. We have to realize that in some communities and some nations there is a treaty-based relationship that communities are demanding to be respected and in others there's a much older and some others a much newer relationship.
There is an immense amount of nuance, and I think you hit the nail on the head in asking that question, Jaime, because it goes to the complex nature of that relationship and the steps we need to take to move forward.
View Jaime Battiste Profile
Lib. (NS)
Well, 40 seconds.... Throughout my life on reserve I have seen many different occasions when indigenous protests have caught the attention of the national media and Canada in general. I can remember Oka, Ipperwash and Idle No More. What lessons have we learned? What lessons has our government learned from those, which we're using today in terms of moving forward in our current approach?
View Carolyn Bennett Profile
Lib. (ON)
I think this is why we ended up having to take the approach we did. We want durable solutions. We have learned the lessons of Oka and Ipperwash. Idle No More was a bit different because it was an educational approach, with round dances, and it was a peaceful recognition of indigenous rights. I think we know that this has got to be about agreements and settling land claims and being able to move forward in the way that our partners feel is the justice that they have not received up until now.
View Sylvie Bérubé Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Minister, the Oka crisis cost the life of Corporal Marcel Lemay. It created deep wounds in Quebec society.
In his book, The Inconvenient Indian, Mr. Thomas King recalled that the deployment of the army at Oka had cost nearly $200 million, while the territories claimed by the Mohawks and ceded to them in 1997 were acquired for only $5.2 million.
The Oka crisis has also taught us that we need to talk to each other and that politicians need to take responsibility. There are several parallels between the Oka crisis and the one that is now coming to an end. What have we learned? What did we not understand? If the federal government had assumed its responsibilities, there might have been fewer crises downstream.
Why didn't the federal government act sooner to prevent this crisis?
View Marc Miller Profile
Lib. (QC)
We are going to share our speaking time.
As you know, Ms. Bérubé, the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples was a product of the Oka crisis. There were a lot of lessons to be learned as a result of this huge inquiry by the commission, lessons that were not necessarily followed, for example, with regard to land purchases. I am not telling you that this is a simplistic analysis, because it is a very profound reflection. Many of the recommendations were not followed. There have been times when the government's commitment has fallen short, admittedly, and that has happened in every respect.
The splitting of the former department into our two current departments is precisely because of the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, a split that did not take place at that time, but more than 20 years later. That is the same lesson we learned from the Delgamuukw decision. In the wake of the Okanagan crisis, we realized, as Quebeckers and Canadians, that there is a real tension, which has a legitimate basis that dates back long before the very creation of Canada, with respect to the participation of the armed forces. It is a scar that remains open within these communities.
We often talk about the economic repercussions that persist on the economies of Quebec and Canada, and it must be emphasized. On the other hand, the greatest impacts, proportionately, have been felt in Kahnawake and Kanesatake, an underdevelopment that has persisted and continues to this day.
We have seen the prejudice and bias that followed resurface, whether in the media or in comments posted on Facebook. These were the same comments that were made after the Oka crisis. There was the death of the corporal appointed following the intervention of the Sûreté du Québec, or SQ. There was also the death of a man who was leaving Kahnawake when a rock was thrown against his window. He had a heart attack and he died from it.
These are things we need to think about as a society. I dare to believe that there have been changes as a result of the Ipperwash crisis. In Ontario, there has been a reform of police practices and indigenous engagement within the police force, which is a response to that cultural sensitivity and the demands that have been around for a very long time. Is there more work to be done? I would say very humbly yes.
View Carolyn Bennett Profile
Lib. (ON)
Excuse me, Ms. Bérubé.
We thank the Bloc Québécois for adopting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and for supporting it, because with the two departments, it is no longer possible for me to deal with the issues of rights and title. We know that where land claims are settled there is certainty. It's a solid foundation on which to build when we make decisions, when the indigenous people and the people with those rights are around the table.
View Sylvie Bérubé Profile
BQ (QC)
Ms. Bennett, I also wanted to tell you that the government's attitude during this crisis has been similar to someone who keeps pushing the panic button in the morning. Why did it take so long to act? I know you mentioned this earlier. There are a lot of reminders about the first injunction, the article in The Guardian, the failure of the talks, the first demonstrations, the first blockades, and so on.
What took you so long? It took almost 25 or 26 days to resolve the situation. The so-called indigenous crisis has become an economic crisis across Canada. Hereditary chiefs came to Canada when there was no negotiation between Parliament and the hereditary chiefs, how can you explain that?
View Carolyn Bennett Profile
Lib. (ON)
A year ago, the Province of British Columbia appointed Mr. Murray Rankin to begin discussions on the rights and title of the Wet'suwet'en Nation. After the difficulties in December, Mr. Nathan Cullen became involved in the process of resolving the situation.
Initially, there were discussions between Minister Scott Fraser and myself. Then our government proposed a meeting with the hereditary chiefs of the Wet'suwet'en Nation.
We are committed to the process, and with patience, we will achieve a sustainable result.
View Leah Gazan Profile
NDP (MB)
Thank you very much.
You have the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal that has ruled against your government for discriminating against first nations children. We are now at nine non-compliance orders. If the rule of law is about respecting the law, are you not breaking the law here? Yes or no?
View Marc Miller Profile
Lib. (QC)
What we're facing as a government is a challenge on many levels. The Prime Minister, in his mandate letter to me, has been quite clear that we will compensate first nation children for what they have suffered—
View Marc Miller Profile
Lib. (QC)
This is a very important issue to me, MP Gazan, so I'm glad to answer it at a later date, but it's something that requires a lot more discussion—
View Leah Gazan Profile
NDP (MB)
You're not answering my question. It seems that your government supports the rule of law when it suits your economic interests. I say that because many times we end up in these situations in Canada because our own laws, our court decisions, or the human rights of indigenous peoples or indigenous laws are not respected.
If upholding the rule of law means respecting law in court, we can hardly conclude that respecting the rule of law for indigenous people and their rights has occurred with this government. Do you agree?
View Marc Miller Profile
Lib. (QC)
I think as Canadians we need to look only at the examples of Poundmaker, Big Bear, or Louis Riel to understand that sometimes invocation of the rule of law has been used against indigenous peoples to perpetrate historic injustices. That should be clear to everyone in this room and to all Canadians.
View Leah Gazan Profile
NDP (MB)
Then just let me help you here. It took you three days to come up with an agreement in principle with the hereditary chiefs. I think it's called “political will”.
I have just one last question. In light of the situation with the Wet'suwet'en, is it critical that we achieve the full adoption and implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples? The last time your government stalled it. It's critical that we pass it. What's your timeline?
View Marc Miller Profile
Lib. (QC)
I agree with the historic nature of UNDRIP, and I want to recognize the contribution of Romeo Saganash in putting forward that bill. It had the full support of our government, and it is something that we are resolutely committed to as a government. I commend Minister Bennett for achieving in four days what couldn't be achieved in 23 years. It's very important for everyone—
View Niki Ashton Profile
NDP (MB)
Sorry, Minister Miller, I appreciate that we do have some serious questions here. I feel like we're getting into story time.
We're dealing with a crisis on a number of fronts. I heard about all the goodwill here, but the reality is that your party has been in power for 91 years out of the last 120. The policies of colonization and genocide have come from Liberal governments, so when I hear about no running water and a housing crisis, when I hear about the lack of adequate health care and third-world living conditions, I know these aren't by accident. They are a result of government policies that you and your colleagues have pushed over the years.
Let's connect it to a crisis we're dealing with here and right now. People are very concerned about the disproportionate impact that coronavirus is set to have on indigenous people. We have to look no further than H1N1 to know exactly how hard it hit the most vulnerable, particularly people in my part of the country. Do you know the rate at which indigenous people were hit by the H1N1 virus in northern Manitoba? I'll help you. It was six times the average rate. When it came to Nunavut, it was 45 times.
View Gary Anandasangaree Profile
Lib. (ON)
With respect, both ministers will be returning here on Thursday. A lot of these questions regarding coronavirus and so on, I believe, can be directed at that point. I think they're here today, and we're here—
View Niki Ashton Profile
NDP (MB)
With respect, it's a matter of life and death, and let me connect it to our discussion today.
View Niki Ashton Profile
NDP (MB)
I can't believe we're delaying this over questions on the coronavirus.
View Gary Anandasangaree Profile
Lib. (ON)
I'm suggesting that relevance is an issue here, Mr. Chair. I do respectfully submit that this question could be deferred to next Thursday.
View Niki Ashton Profile
NDP (MB)
Respectfully, I'm shocked that we would ask to have this discussion delayed when we know that the government isn't taking it seriously.
Let me connect it to the Wet'suwet'en as well. Indigenous people in this country have had enough of the way in which the federal government has ignored their needs, whether it be treaty land entitlement or land claims—and I include the north of 60 agreement that your government betrayed the Dene on. They've had enough of the way in which living conditions in their region have been ignored, so I'm shocked that I would be told that I should stay silent about a crisis we're starting to live right now.
My question for the government is what are you doing to take action to make sure that first nations are supported? Perhaps you could also reflect on the fact that you're an alternate member of a committee. What signal does that show to indigenous communities when the government doesn't even take indigenous affairs ministers seriously enough to have you as a full member of a committee dealing with a nationwide and global crisis?
View Marc Miller Profile
Lib. (QC)
I can confirm with the member that I'm on the committee and participating fully. I'll leave it at that. We have a meeting today, and I will be updating members on the issues. I'd be prepared to update you on the issues with respect to our engagements in indigenous communities and our reaction and preparation for coronavirus, which is a very serious issue.
I would preface my following comment with the fact that I don't think that the introduction of UNDRIP and the work the government and the NDP did on it, fostered by and put forward by Romeo Saganash, is storytelling. I think it's very important. It's very important for Canadians to realize that.
With respect to coronavirus, indigenous communities are more vulnerable for a number of reasons: historic socio-economic gaps, overcrowding and lack of access to clean and safe drinking water. These are all issues that we as a government on a long-term basis—and on a short-term basis with respect to the long-term water advisories that we are committed to remove by March 2021.... There are also systemic issues with respect to cultural approaches with medical facilities and health care, and issues with access and remoteness. These are all factors that have contributed, for example, to the unacceptable rates of tuberculosis in those communities.
We have our experience from the H1N1 virus. I have a dedicated team that is working on surge capacity. I'd absolutely be more than glad to update this committee or anyone willing to engage with me on this issue. Foremost, it's to indigenous communities that we are striving to reach out to, and have already done, but we'll be increasing that capacity in the short term. Thank you.
View Gary Vidal Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you, Ministers, for your time today.
I want to follow up a little bit on Mr. Schmale's comments.
Minister Bennett, title has primarily been dealt with through treaties, as you talked about. The Tsilhqot’in decision has set out the standards for proving that title exists. I think we would agree on that.
Title claims impact not only the first nations, but also affect the surrounding non-indigenous communities and overlapping first nations' claims. Treaties must be ratified by federal and provincial legislatures, and so to follow up on my colleague's question, not only do I think it's appropriate, but I think it's imperative that you bring this agreement before Parliament before you sign it.
I don't think you answered his question. Will that come before Parliament before it gets signed?
View Carolyn Bennett Profile
Lib. (ON)
Yes, I think what I said was that section 35 agreements that Canada and indigenous groups negotiate remain confidential until after the ratification process. With the Anishinabek education agreement, it then came before Parliament. We are very aware that these kinds of agreements, particularly where title is involved, need to come to this place.
View Gary Vidal Profile
CPC (SK)
In all of your public responses to this so far, what I've heard is that once this agreement has gone through this two-week process, as you eloquently referred to today, you and Minister Fraser from B.C. will go back and sign it.
Therefore, where's Parliament in this process?
View Carolyn Bennett Profile
Lib. (ON)
As with a collective bargaining agreement or the type of agreements that Canada signs, I have a mandate to be able to sign agreements. This is about an agreement to work to implement.
As you know, the Supreme Court held title and recognized hereditary leadership. It's now our job to do the hard work of being able to implement and work through those things that you are quite rightfully raising in terms of neighbours and private property, insurance and roads, and all of those things. This is a very complex matter, and that's the hard work we're looking forward to doing with the Wet'suwet'en Nation and the Province of British Columbia, but also the municipalities of Smithers and Houston.
This is important work.
View Gary Vidal Profile
CPC (SK)
What I'm hearing from you is that this is an agreement that we're going to keep working together, but you spoke in your comments about this being an agreement about title.
Are we talking about title, or are we just talking about agreeing to continue to work together?
View Carolyn Bennett Profile
Lib. (ON)
This is a proposed arrangement that would allow us to move on the important work of implementing the rights and titles of the Wet'suwet'en people.
View Gary Vidal Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you. I'm going to move on.
Mr. Miller, I have a question for you.
In your departmental plan, you say:
Our work supports the self-determination of Indigenous peoples so that in the future, the services we currently offer are developed, governed, and delivered by Indigenous peoples.
Resource development is a great way for indigenous communities to create their own revenue and achieve this noble goal. As my colleague asked, I ask you, why is it that your government seems to only be speaking to those who oppose the economic development?
I would preface that additionally with both Minister Bennett's visit to B.C. but also the transcript I read of your eight-hour meeting with the Tyendinaga people. Again, it seems as though we're only talking to those people who oppose the project development, yet the project development is huge for the success of these communities.
View Marc Miller Profile
Lib. (QC)
I can't pick and choose who shows up at a barricade. I have to deal with the cards that are dealt to me and engage in that dialogue and figure out why these solidarity movements are popping up. You can only do that through conversations, some of which are difficult, and I have no choice but to respect the views that are communicated to me at that point in time. Whether I agree with them or not, it's very important to continue that dialogue and have a path and a game plan towards peaceful resolution.
Everyone wanted peaceful resolution, but that game plan and that step plan is very important, and that includes dialogue. We do engage. The whole point of my department is to close that socio-economic gap so that indigenous peoples have substantive equality with non-indigenous peoples. That, in and of itself, is a huge catalyst for economic growth. There are economic development portfolios in both my and Minister Bennett's departments.
We know that when self-determination is achieved, indigenous peoples are driving resource development in many communities. You need only look at Treaty 8. You need only look at the Cree in northern Quebec. Those projects are key to the development of our country, but that takes catching up the gap in education, health, infrastructure, emergency management, all those precursors that in fact you and I probably take for granted.
These are very important. We will engage with all actors, resource development actors included. I meet with them all the time.
View Adam van Koeverden Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you very much to both ministers for joining us today.
Before I start, I'd like to commend you and acknowledge your commitment to developing lasting trust, to being on the front lines and meeting with people, and to listening to people and ensuring that their voices are heard, not just in the media but in Parliament as well.
Like you, I am very concerned about some of the language being used to discuss this issue. It's grown to be quite inflammatory. I think, as elected officials, parliamentarians, we have a particular responsibility to be diplomatic with respect to these important issues. On Sunday, I met with about 70 indigenous youth at the Canada We Want conference just north of Toronto. I would submit, that while it was very emotional, their language and rhetoric remained respectful, diplomatic and constructive throughout that conversation, which was supposed to be for 30 minutes but ended up being for about two and a half hours. I think that's a commitment that many of our colleagues would be well served to emulate.
Without undermining the urgency of all of the issues involved, I was hoping that you could elaborate a bit on de-escalation as a priority, reducing the temperature to ensure that there is a peaceful, effective and legal solution that will result in good outcomes. Could you also elaborate, Minister Bennett, perhaps more importantly, on the reference you made to doing no harm?
View Carolyn Bennett Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you for that.
I think we are worried that situations like this just increase racism and people's ability to attack each another. That Saturday night in the hotel in Smithers, one of the elders was verbally abused. It just spoke to, really, what happens amongst neighbours, but also to the most vulnerable. To attack somebody who went to residential school, who has lived that shame of being indigenous, is unacceptable. I do worry, whether it's Senator Beyak or others across this country, that people seem to be getting away with saying things that are absolutely hurtful and harmful. It's really dangerous to the fabric of this country. We have so much to learn about thinking seven generations out; about asking, not telling, in leadership; about listening to wise women; about all of the things that were in place here before the settlers arrived. And then the Indian Act and residential schools made people feel ashamed.
I agree. It was interesting last night at the University of Toronto. I met this amazing young indigenous woman who talked to me about the Chandler-Lalonde report, about how communities that are self-governing end up with better health, education and economic outcomes. This is a scholarly and evidence-based approach now, but it is also about building this country, about nation building, from coast to coast to coast.
Thank you.
View Adam van Koeverden Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thanks.
Minister Miller, you spoke about trust a lot throughout your speech today. I've recognized your hard work and commitment to having an open and honest dialogue throughout this process. I referenced your work, your commitment to language acquisition, your commitment to peace and dialogue and patience a number of times throughout my meeting on Sunday night. It was well recognized; there was a lot of nodding in the audience. These youth were very well informed.
I'd ask you to elaborate on how patience, diplomacy, a calm approach are serving the situation now. I would once again commend you for that work.
View Marc Miller Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you.
Let me add on to what Carolyn said. My greatest concern, when I heard from the leadership in Kahnawake, was about the 200 kids who study off-reserve and how they are being targeted. Our concern in all of this is the safety of all Canadians, and particularly those most vulnerable, but when you hear stories like that, it really brings home what this means and the need to achieve a peaceful resolution.
Building trust sometimes means being vulnerable and going on a playing field that isn't yours, exposing yourself. Nine hours of transcript for a minister is a significant amount of exposure; it's minimal compared to the vulnerabilities the people who accepted to meet me face. I feel safe around police forces; they don't. That insecurity was palpable in the room on many occasions. This is systemic, ongoing and documented. It isn't something that people just throw out there; it is documented in reports.
That trust has been broken for decades, so it isn't someone like me who is going to repair it or something like this government that will repair it simply in one year, with a bunch of programs that are historic in their investment quantum. It will take a long time to repair these bonds that have been broken, and probably more mistakes will be made. It's just something we have to be relentless about. It's about building relationships. In any community, even across this committee you build relationships and that builds a modicum of trust—
View Marc Miller Profile
Lib. (QC)
—and confidence. It allows you to move on. It's systemic. We can work at it as a country. I'm confident.
Thank you.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
Thank you, Minister. I appreciate that you went out to the Wet'suwet'en community. It's my neighbour to the west of my riding.
I share the concerns of my colleague Mr. Schmale. You talked about exploiting divisions as if it were somebody else other than what you were doing. You talked about being “open and honest”, I think, Minister Miller. That's what you said; you wanted these discussions to be that way.
Are you aware of who elects the elected chiefs and council of the Wet'suwet'en community?
View Carolyn Bennett Profile
Lib. (ON)
My understanding, and from the Supreme Court decision, is that the hereditary chiefs...that there is the conversation now about title of the whole community, not just the reserve lands.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
—said to us. We met with him in Prince George three weeks ago now. He said that the elected chiefs are actually elected by the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs as well. They are a true representative of the Wet'suwet'en community of hereditary and community members. Were you aware of that?
View Carolyn Bennett Profile
Lib. (ON)
Absolutely, and that's why now the hereditary chiefs will go back to their clans and their houses and their elected chiefs—
View Carolyn Bennett Profile
Lib. (ON)
I'm going to tell you that they will now go back to their clans and their houses and all members of the nation will determine and ratify this proposal.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
Chief Dan George, who is one of the chiefs elected by the community, has been trying to get a meeting with you, and even wanted to be part of the discussions when you just met with them a few days ago, and said they—the elected chiefs—were shut out of the meeting. Why?
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