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Results: 1 - 30 of 47
View Elizabeth May Profile
View Elizabeth May Profile
2020-11-23 15:58 [p.2251]
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to present a petition. I am speaking today from the traditional territory of the WSÁNEC Nation. Hych'ka Siem.
The petitioners are calling for the House assembled to follow through on commitments to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to follow through on commitments to meet the calls for action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The petitioners specifically note the ongoing situation on Wet’suwet’en territory and the Coastal GasLink. They also note the pervasive ways in which implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples should be incorporated into Canadian law.
View Jenny Kwan Profile
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2020-11-02 16:16 [p.1546]
Madam Speaker, I particularly appreciate the fact that the member expressed support on behalf of the Conservatives for the bill.
The member for Thornhill, speaking in the last round about the proposed citizenship oath amendments, said that if indigenous peoples continue the protest of the Coastal GasLink pipeline, they would lose support for such an amendment. This kind of statement is completely ignorant of the rights of indigenous peoples.
If the Conservatives support the recognition of the inherent rights of indigenous people, as is proposed in the bill, would they also support article 10 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples about free, prior and informed consent?
View Raquel Dancho Profile
View Raquel Dancho Profile
2020-11-02 16:17 [p.1546]
Madam Speaker, the member for Thornhill was referring to the public outcry at the railway blockades, but also referring to the immense support from the Wet'suwet'en elected band council and some of their hereditary chiefs. For example, hereditary chief Helen Michelle mentioned, “A lot of the protestors are not even Wet'suwet'en” and “Our own people said 'go ahead'” with Coastal GasLink. Further, she said that they talked to the elders. They talked and talked, and they kept bringing them back. She said that they walked the very territory where Coastal GasLink was going and they were going to give it the go-ahead.
Further, Chief Larry Nooski of the Nadleh Whut'en said, “Coastal GasLink represents a once in a generation economic development opportunity for Nadleh Whut'en First Nation. We negotiated hard...to guarantee that Nadleh people, including youth, have the opportunity to benefit directly and indirectly from the project, while at the same time, ensuring that the land and the water is protected”. I believe my colleague's response in his speech was regarding those comments.
Further, regarding UNDRIP, Conservatives are supportive of reconciliation with indigenous peoples. That path must be studied and furthered across all levels of government. I am eager to see what, if anything, the government puts forward as soon as possible. It has been four years since it said it would adopt it, yet no action has been brought forward. Again, it is an area that needs study and I look forward to seeing that being studied.
View Jenny Kwan Profile
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2020-11-02 16:52 [p.1551]
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise and speak in support of Bill C-8 on behalf of the NDP.
The NDP has consistently called for the full implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action. In fact, I tabled an amendment to revise the citizenship oath to recognize and affirm the aboriginal and treaty rights of the first nations, Inuit and Métis peoples in a previous immigration bill, Bill C-6, back in 2016. Sadly, that amendment was not accepted.
Even though this change was in the former minister's 2017 mandate letter, the Liberals failed to act until the dying days of the last Parliament, just before the 2019 election. As a result, the bill did not even make it to second reading.
The Prime Minister has claimed that the new relationship with indigenous peoples is his most important relationship, yet it has taken the minister three years to act on this priority from his mandate letter. I ask the members to think about it. It is astonishing that it has taken this long for the Liberals to act. There is simply no good reason for this not to be accomplished already.
The Liberals have missed the opportunity to ensure that the many new citizens who took their oaths since 2017 began their journey as Canadian citizens with a full understanding of our collective obligation to honour the rights of indigenous peoples. If it takes the Liberals this long to add a line to the citizenship oath, is it any wonder they are failing on their nation-to-nation relationships with indigenous peoples on so many levels?
In 2017, when the Prime Minister declared, “No relationship is more important to Canada than the relationship with Indigenous Peoples”, all of Canada was hopeful. Perhaps we would finally be able to work on redressing this country's historical wrongs and heal the trauma caused by Canada's colonial history. Perhaps we would finally be on the right side of history and move forward with a new relationship that puts the rights of indigenous peoples front and centre. Sadly, the actions of the Prime Minister indicate otherwise.
All we have to do is take a good hard look at the lived experiences of indigenous peoples to know that Canada has failed and is continuing to fail to meet its obligations to indigenous peoples. Look at what is happening with indigenous children. In 2016, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal found Canada guilty of “wilful and reckless” racial discrimination by knowingly underfunding on-reserve child welfare services.
Why did it take 10 non-compliance orders against the federal government to force it to act? Why did Dr. Cindy Blackstock have to fight for so long and so relentlessly for the government to treat indigenous children fairly and equitably? Why is it that the basic human rights for indigenous peoples are so hard to honour for the Liberal government, and for the Conservative government before it? It is truly hard to comprehend.
Successive governments' foot-dragging in meaningful implementation and in upholding indigenous rights has had devastating impacts on the lives of indigenous communities across the land for generations, from the young to the old and all of those in between. We see the effect of this in our communities every single day. It is in the violence currently being committed against the Mi'kmaq fishers.
As stated in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, they have the right to self-determination. This right was enshrined in the peace and friendship treaties and upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1999 by the Marshall decision. The Marshall decision affirmed their treaty rights to hunt, fish and gather in pursuit of a “moderate livelihood” 20 years ago, yet successive governments, both Liberal and Conservative, have failed to negotiate with indigenous communities to define “moderate livelihood” and pave a path for indigenous fishers to fully exercise their rights, rights which are enshrined in Canada's Constitution.
How is this possible? Would anyone think, even for a minute, that, if this were a Supreme Court ruling for non-indigenous peoples, it would take more than two decades for the government to act? As a result of the inaction, the Mi'kmaq fishers are faced with violence, intimidation and domestic terrorism. Crimes were committed against them. People were injured, and they have suffered property damage.
Two weeks ago, the Liberal ministers agreed with the NDP that this warranted an emergency debate in the House of Commons, yet during the debate Liberal members voted against the NDP's unanimous consent motion to affirm the inherent rights of the Mi'kmaq and Maliseet people. The Liberals have refused to confirm their rights, which are enshrined in the Canadian Constitution and by the Supreme Court of Canada. They refuse to recognize that the Mi'kmaq nation deserves full and equal protection under the law from violence, intimidation and domestic terrorism.
Now, according to media reports, the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs is alleging that the DFO is planning to seize the gear and traps of the Mi'kmaq fishers. Do the Liberals really think this is reconciliation? It is utterly shameful.
The Liberal government must stop making a mockery of the meaning behind this bill and act with integrity by taking real action to affirm the rights of all indigenous peoples. The Prime Minister must also pause and reflect on the message he is sending to young indigenous peoples when they witness the blatant inaction of the RCMP when it comes to ensuring the Mi'kmaq nation is afforded the same protection as everyone else.
This situation is more disturbing when compared to the situation of the Wet'suwet'en land defenders, where an ample number of heavily armed RCMP officers surrounded them as they attempted to assert their rights against the Coastal GasLink pipeline. It was truly shocking to learn that the RCMP officers were instructed to “use as much violence toward the gate as you want.”
It is as though the 1997 landmark decision, in which the Supreme Court of Canada found that the rights of the Wet'suwet'en nation had not been extinguished, did not exist. The Liberals are pushing ahead with the Trans Mountain pipeline extension. The voices of the land defenders are being ignored. There is a total disregard for article 10 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which explicitly outlines the need for the government to fully respect the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples when it comes to resource development on their land, including and especially when the answer is “no”.
When the violation of the rights of indigenous peoples are so blatant, how can the Liberals go on pretending that they are affirming the rights of indigenous peoples? Sadly, this kind of injustice is not new, nor is this kind of doublespeak.
My questions for the Prime Minister are theses: What will it take to stop the human rights violations against indigenous peoples? What will it take for him to internalize the fact that the trauma of such human rights abuses is intergenerational?
My colleague, the member for North Island—Powell River, shared the very real lived experiences of her children as indigenous peoples. No parent should have to see their children suffer under the weight of such systemic racism. No parent should have to fear for the safety of their children because they are indigenous, yet this is their everyday reality.
My constituents, who continue to witness this ongoing abuse by the government, are saying that reconciliation is dead. They see an unprecedented number of indigenous children being taken away from their families through the child welfare system. They see police brutality being levied against indigenous peoples. They see racism permeating the health care system. They continue to see indigenous women and girls go missing.
The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls determined that colonial structures and policies, which persist in Canada, constitute a root cause of the violence experienced by indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQ2IA people. This violence, the report concludes, amounts to a race-based genocide against indigenous peoples, especially women, girls and 2SLGBTQ2IA people.
To remedy this and put an end to this Canadian genocide, the final report of the national inquiry put forth 231 calls for justice. When the final report on the national inquiry was released, the federal government promised that a national action plan would be in place on the anniversary of the annual release.
Families, survivors and indigenous organizations have emphasized the need for an indigenous women-led national action plan to implement the 231 calls for justice. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse, the national action plan has been delayed indefinitely. The longer the government stalls, the longer people suffer.
For example, many of the calls for justice include addressing racism in health care settings and hospitals. The disturbing death of Joyce Echaquan, an indigenous mother of seven children, after experiencing racist and derogatory treatment from health care staff in a hospital, is a sharp reminder that it is inexcusable for the Liberal government to delay the implementation of the calls for justice.
While the government is using the pandemic as an excuse for inaction and delays, the community has been advocating for real concrete actions to improve the safety and well-being of indigenous women and girls on the ground for decades. These include access to safe and affordable housing, reforms to the child welfare system, reforms to the justice system and policing, improving health care access for indigenous people as well as providing core funding support for providers of culturally sensitive and trauma-informed support in community services.
The pandemic is not an excuse to delay what should be a top priority for Canada. On the contrary, the pandemic is the reason to accelerate action. In fact, the pandemic has exposed many issues. Imagine what it is like to not have access to clean drinking water in a pandemic, yet the Liberal government has recently backtracked on its promise to end all drinking water advisories in indigenous communities by March 2021, which is only five months away.
Just last month, the Neskantaga First Nation's community was evacuated amidst a global pandemic after high levels of hydrocarbons were discovered in the water supply. While the government is using the pandemic as an excuse for the delays in fulfilling its promise, this situation was not caused by the pandemic. The community of the Neskantaga has been under a boil water advisory for 25 years. With the COVID-19 pandemic, access to safe water to meet hygiene needs is more important than ever. The pandemic should be a catalyst for urgent action rather than an excuse for delays. The health and safety of indigenous peoples matter. The lives of indigenous peoples matter.
Tied to the issue of clean drinking water is access to safe, secure affordable housing. Canada is struggling with a preventable affordable housing and homelessness crisis. The crisis impacts indigenous communities much more acutely due to the historic and ongoing displacement and systemic racism experienced by indigenous peoples. Indigenous peoples are 10 times more likely to become homeless than non-indigenous Canadians.
Indigenous communities in rural, urban and northern communities face some of the worst housing conditions in all of Canada. My colleague, the MP for Nunavut, went on a housing tour in her region. All the families she visited were living in overcrowded situations and all had serious problems with mould. Some homes were in such poor condition that beds were frozen to the wall.
Overcrowded homes and lack of housing means that many people are often forced to remain with abusers. Children are removed from their homes and families because there is no safe habitable housing available to families. As my colleague states, “Putting Inuit in situations where they are dying, getting sick or losing their kids because of inadequate housing is modern-day colonization.”
Urban and rural indigenous communities also face unique and drastic housing challenges. My riding of Vancouver East is one of the hardest hit by Canada's ongoing homelessness crisis, a crisis that disproportionately affects indigenous peoples.
Of all the community members currently living in the Strathcona Park tents right now, it is estimated that 40% of the residents are of indigenous ancestry, despite indigenous people only comprising 2.5% of the population of Metro Vancouver.
The lack of access to housing, a basic human right, is a root cause to the disproportionate number of indigenous children in care and removed from their families. It is a root cause of the violence experienced by indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people. It is stressful, trauma-inducing and injurious.
It is simply incredulous that the housing needs for urban, rural and northern indigenous peoples were completely ignored in the national housing strategy. Despite all the talk over the years, there is still no plan for a rural, urban and northern indigenous housing strategy led by indigenous people for indigenous people.
The amended citizenship oath affirms what should have been true all along; that recognizing and affirming indigenous and treaty rights is at the core of fulfilling one's duties and responsibilities as a Canadian citizen. The government must act now to fulfill its own obligations to recognize and affirm indigenous and treaty rights.
While the amended Citizenship Act helps new Canadians better understand, we, at the same time, also have a crucial role to play in ensuring that Canada meets its obligation to indigenous peoples. It is treaties that give settler Canadians the privilege of living on indigenous lands and with that privilege comes the collective responsibility to commit ourselves to recognizing and affirming indigenous and treaty rights.
Justice Murray Sinclair summarized this obligation best, “Reconciliation is not an aboriginal problem—it is a Canadian problem. It involves all of us.” It is incumbent on the federal government to show that leadership every single step of the way. It is incumbent on the Liberal government to do better than what it has done so far.
Having only completed 10 calls for action is not good enough. Indigenous people should not have to continually wait for their rights to be honoured and for their basic human rights to be respected. Incremental reconciliation should not be the path forward. We need to see action and we need to see it now. We cannot allow for the pandemic to be that excuse. We need to accelerate the program and to move forward. Generations have been waiting for it. Indigenous peoples deserve better.
View Paul Manly Profile
View Paul Manly Profile
2020-11-02 17:20 [p.1555]
Madam Speaker, the hon. member mentioned the Wet'suwet'en and the police action there. Was she aware that it was the B.C. NDP government that gave the RCMP their orders? Would she like to see that pipeline cancelled as well and put an end to the fracking and the LNG projects the NDP are pushing through Wet'suwet'en territory?
View Jenny Kwan Profile
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2020-11-02 17:21 [p.1555]
Madam Speaker, I support the indigenous people and their rights. That is why I am here, and that is what I am fighting for. It is time for us to honour their rights.
View Elizabeth May Profile
View Elizabeth May Profile
2020-10-26 16:38 [p.1234]
Mr. Speaker, I acknowledge I am speaking to you from the traditional territory of the WSÁNEC peoples and I raise my hands to them. Hych'ka Siem.
I am presenting petition no. 10672056, pertaining to the failure to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The petitioners specifically take note of the Canadian Constitution and our human rights obligations, and specifically ask the government to move without delay to nation-to-nation talks with the Wet’suwet’en First Nation and to fully implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
View Elizabeth May Profile
View Elizabeth May Profile
2020-10-20 10:05 [p.941]
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to take the floor from British Columbia where the sun has not yet risen. I apologize for the darkness.
It is an honour to rise this morning to present a petition from petitioners concerned about Canada's commitment to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The petitioners point out that Canada has existing obligations under other human rights declarations that apply globally. They specifically point out the need to have a piece of legislation in Canada that brings the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into legal effect in this country, and to update our legislation to reflect Canada's obligations to enforce the rights of indigenous peoples in multiple situations. They specify the Wet'suwet'en territory and the conduct of the RCMP.
View Paul Manly Profile
View Paul Manly Profile
2020-03-11 15:19 [p.1939]
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to present a second petition from members in my riding of Nanaimo—Ladysmith.
The petitioners ask that the government commit to uphold 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; schedule nation-to-nation talks between the Wet'suwet'en nation and federal and provincial governments, which I am glad to see has happened; and prioritize the real implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
View Elizabeth May Profile
View Elizabeth May Profile
2020-03-11 15:22 [p.1939]
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise in this place to present an e-petition that was started by one of my constituents from Galiano Island. I want send a shout-out to Christina Kovacevic for starting the petition, which has accumulated more than 15,000 signatures.
It calls on the government, as other petitioners today have mentioned, to observe and respect the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, particularly in relation to the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs and land claims; to halt all existing and planned construction of the Coastal GasLink project on their territory; to ask the RCMP to dismantle its exclusion zone; to have nation-to-nation talks, which, we note with real gratitude to the ministers involved, have happened, and there is an agreement currently under consideration with the Wet'suwet'en; and to make sure that it continues toward real implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
View Jenica Atwin Profile
View Jenica Atwin Profile
2020-03-11 15:26 [p.1940]
Mr. Speaker, I have a second petition. It is similar to other petitions presented today. It calls on the government to uphold the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action by immediately halting existing and planned construction of the Coastal GasLink project on Wet'suwet'en territory; asking the RCMP to dismantle its exclusion zone and stand down; scheduling nation-to-nation talks with the Wet'suwet'en, which has happened; and prioritizing the real implementation of UNDRIP.
View Paul Manly Profile
View Paul Manly Profile
2020-02-25 10:26 [p.1474]
Mr. Speaker, this petition calls upon the government to immediately 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 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 and prioritizing the real implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
View Carolyn Bennett Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, the young indigenous people whom I met with in the office of the Minister of Northern Affairs were not radical activists. They were sensitive, young indigenous people expressing the importance of the land, water and air.
One young woman, who had slept in the Minister of Northern Affairs' office for over 10 days, tearfully expressed to me how upsetting it was to see the images and hear from the people being arrested for what they believed in, friendships that began a year ago and then having to witness their new friend being arrested earlier this month.
I believe we have learned from the crises at Oka and Ipperwash, in Caledonia and Gustafsen Lake. I believe the police also understand its role in that. Last year, we said that we never wanted to see again the images of police having to use force in an indigenous community in order to keep the peace.
Canada is counting on us to work together to create the space for respectful dialogue with the Wet'suwet'en peoples. We all want this dispute resolved in a peaceful and durable manner.
The rhetoric and divisive tactics from the other side are irresponsible. We want the Wet'suwet'en peoples to come together and resolve their differences of opinion. We want to work with both the elected chiefs in council and the hereditary chiefs toward a future outside the Indian Act, where, as a nation, they can choose the governance of their choosing, write their own laws and finally be able to have their rights affirmed as they take decisions with respect to their land, water and air in the best interests of their children and seven generations out.
We are inspired by the courageous Wet'suwet'en people who took the recognition of their rise to the Supreme Court of Canada in the Delgamuukw case in 1997. However, 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 the question of title was to be determined at a later time.
It has been more than 20 years, through many federal and provincial governments, and the Wet'suwet'en people are understandably impatient for the question of title to be resolved. I look forward to working together on an out-of-court process to determine title.
The Wet'suwet'en have worked hard on those next steps within the B.C. treaty process and more recently, since 2018, on specific claims, negotiation preparedness, nation rebuilding, with funding from the government for research.
Two years ago I signed an agreement with the hereditary chiefs of the Office of the Wet'suwet'en on asserting their rights on child and family services. At the signing, there was some overlap. Some of the hereditary chiefs also hold or have held office within their communities as chiefs and/or councillors.
Across Canada, over half of the Indian Act bands are sitting down at tables to work on their priorities as they assert their jurisdiction. 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.”
In British Columbia, we have been inspired by the work of the B.C. summit as they have been able to articulate and sign, with us and the B.C. government, a new policy that will, once and for all, eliminate the concepts of extinguishment, cede and surrender for future treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements.
This new B.C. policy is transformative. It represents years of hard work that has eliminated so many of the obstacles that impeded the treaty process. It will be an essential tool as we are able to accelerate the progress to self-determination. I believe the B.C. policy can provide a template for nations from coast to coast to coast.
We have together agreed that no longer will loans be necessary for first nations to fund their negotiations in Canada. We are forgiving outstanding past loans and, in some cases, paying back nations for loans that had already been repaid.
For over two years, we have worked with the already self-governing nations on a collaborative fiscal agreement that will provide stable, predictable funding, which will finally properly fund the running of their governments.
This new funding arrangement will provide them with much more money than they would have received under the Indian Act.
The conditions are right to move the relationship with first nations, Inuit and Métis in Canada to one based on the affirmation of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership. It has been exciting to watch the creativity and innovation presented by the Ktunaxa and Stó:lo nations in their negotiations of modern treaties.
We were inspired to see the hereditary chiefs and elected chief and council of the Heiltsuk Nation work together to sign an agreement with Canada on their path to self-government.
We are also grateful to the B.C. government for its important work on reconciliation, including the passage of Bill 41, implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
I would like to thank Murray Rankin for his important work for B.C. on lands and title with the Wet'suwet'en nation and Nathan Cullen for his work with all those involved in the current impasse.
We have seen that real progress can be made when hereditary and elected leadership come together with a shared vision of nation rebuilding and work together on a clear route to self-determination.
I look forward to having these conversations with the Wet'suwet'en nation.
We have an obligation to move beyond the good work we are doing on child and family services to a meaningful discussion on reconstituting the Wet'suwet'en nation.
It is time to build on the Delgamuukw decision, time to show that issues of rights and title can be solved through meaningful dialogue
My job is to ensure that Canada finds out-of-court solutions and to fast-track negotiations and agreements that make real change possible.
I hope that shortly we will be able to sit down with the hereditary chiefs of Wet'suwet'en and work together on their short and long-term goals.
There are many parts of Canada where title is very difficult to determine. Many nations occupied the land for different generations. There are other areas like Tsilhqot'in's title land and Haida Gwaii where there is clear evidence that the land has been occupied by one nation for millennia.
We are at a critical time in Canada. We need to deal effectively with the uncertainty. Canadians want to see indigenous rights honoured. They are impatient for meaningful progress. Canadians are counting on us to implement a set of rules and processes in which section 35 of our Constitution can be honourably implemented.
Passing legislation and implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, or UNDRIP, is one way to move forward.
Canadians acknowledge that there has been a difference of opinion among the Wet'suwet'en peoples. As was said, 20 elected chiefs and councils have agreed to the project in consultation with their people. Women leaders have expressed an opinion that the project can help eliminate poverty or provide meaningful work for their young men and reduce domestic violence and incarceration
Crystal Smith, chief councillor for Haisla nation, is in favour of the pipeline. She eloquently said this morning on Ottawa Morning that the solutions would be found within the Wet'suwet'en nation and that the outside voices were not helpful.
There needs to be unity and consensus within the community, and today's debate is not helping.
Some have expressed that in an indigenous world view providing an energy source that will reduce China's reliance on coal is good for mother earth. We are hoping the Wet'suwet'en people will be able to come together to take these decisions together, decisions that are in the best interests of their children and their children for generations to come.
We applaud the thousands of young Canadians fighting for climate justice.
We know that they need hope. They want to see a real plan to deal with the climate emergency. We believe we have an effective plan in place, from clean tech, renewable energy, public transit and protection of the land and water.
We want the young people of Canada and all those who have been warning about climate change for decades to feel heard.
They need hope, and they need to feel involved in coming up with real solutions.
As I mentioned Tuesday night, we have invested in and are inspired by the work of Val Napoleon and John Burrows at the Indigenous Law Lodge at UVIC. They will be able to do the research on the laws of many nations, so they are able to create governance structures and constitutions in keeping with their laws.
It is so important to understand the damage done by colonization and residential schools that has led to sometimes different interpretations of traditional legal practices and customs.
We think that, one day, Canada will be able to integrate indigenous law into Canada's legislative process, just as it did with common law and civil law.
We are also striving to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action and to increase awareness of our shared history.
We need all the indigenous leadership to know that we are serious about rebuilding trust and working with respect, as the Minister of Indigenous Services and the Prime Minister have expressed in such a heartfelt way.
Following up on the repeated and public personal commitments by the Prime Minister and the B.C. premier and our letters of February 16 and yesterday, I and the B.C. Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation continue to offer our commitment to a process based upon trust and mutual respect to address the urgent issues of concern to the hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en nation.
We wrote to them on February 16, offering an urgent meeting with us, and we were willing to meet in Smithers if that was agreeable to them. In an effort to exemplify our commitment and recognizing the urgency of the situation, both of us travelled to Victoria on Monday to allow for short-notice travel to Smithers if that was their reply.
While we have not yet been able to meet in person, we have continued the dialogue through multiple conversations with some of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs in order to clarify a path forward. That was an important step, and we thank them for coming to the discussion with the same commitment for a peaceful resolution. We understand that they have urgent issues to resolve and require dedicated attention from both levels of government in working with them to chart a peaceful path forward.
We are committed to finding a mutually acceptable process with them and the Wet’suwet’en nation to sit down and address the urgent and long-term issues at hand. We wrote again yesterday to arrange an in-person meeting. We hope that the Wet’suwet’en will be able to express to those in solidarity with them that it is now time for them to stand down and let us get back to work with Wet’suwet’en nation with its own laws and governance and work nation to nation with the Crown. I am hoping to be able to return to British Columbia as soon as possible to continue that work.
In closing, I have to say that as a physician, I was trained to first do no harm. I believe today's debate is harmful to the progress we need to make in order to get to a durable solution.
View Charlie Angus Profile
View Charlie Angus Profile
2020-02-20 11:40 [p.1301]
Madam Speaker, as always, I am extremely honoured to stand in this House, the people's House, to represent the people of Timmins—James Bay on unceded Algonquin territory. Let us just reflect on that a moment. This is not just some nice thing we Canadians now say, when we do the land recognition. It is a statement of understanding that there are outstanding historical rights and land issues running across our country, and we need to acknowledge that. That is one of the reasons we are here today.
We are at an unprecedented moment in Canada's history, a moment when we can all come together and rise up to meet the challenge, or we can give in to our lazier base motives of political machismo and spite. I believe we are now dealing with a crisis that has moved from Wet'suwet'en territory out across Canada, and it requires leadership. It requires us, as parliamentarians, to recognize it and be honest with each other. This is bigger than all of us, but if we do not rise to the task, the risks to our nation right now are very serious.
We can come together and try to untangle this extremely complex Gordian knot, or we can play to the usual base in this House of division. I find this opposition motion from the Conservatives to be very telling of their political tactics. This motion has us standing in this House today to “condemn the radical activists who are exploiting divisions within the Wet’suwet’en community”.
It is our job to recognize that there needs to be a conversation not only with the Wet'suwet'en people, but also with indigenous people across this country. It is not for us to say that if they support a gas line, we will support them, and have Parliament come down in the middle of a very tense motion.
I point to the other motion the Conservatives brought forward. They were willing to use this national crisis to try to bring down the government and save the opposition leader's political career, who has been rejected by his own party. That is not leadership. That is more of the same kind of joker chaos politics that we do not need at this time.
This past weekend, I joined thousands of young people in the streets of Ottawa. People were also marching in Montreal, Halifax and Vancouver. It was extremely inspiring to see these young people, young indigenous leadership, stepping forward at the front of the march. I spoke to many of them and asked where they were from. They were from places such as Kanesatake, Kitigan Zibi, Fort Albany and Barrière Lake.
I think of the Leader of the Opposition who told these young indigenous people to check their privilege. I know he was not serious. I know he was just doing it as a dig, a slur, a spite, but that is not leadership. The message it is sending to this young generation is that this Parliament is in opposition to their hopes and dreams, and that is not Canada.
I think of the young woman I met from Fort Albany, and the Conservatives would tell her to check her privilege. Her grandparents were at Federal Court this week for the St. Anne's residential school crisis, where some of the worst crimes in history committed against children happened. Her grandparents in Fort Albany are still fighting, and Conservatives would tell this young woman to check her privilege.
I think of Kanesatake and the Mohawk people who have been there since long before us and who will be there long after us, and the Leader of the Opposition is telling the woman I met to check her privilege. Of course he has a $900,000 slush fund for treats and perks. That is quite privileged.
I also think of the amazing young woman I met who spoke up from Barriere Lake, Quebec. Barriere Lake's territory has been stripped of forestry and has been flooded out time and time again by massive hydro dams, and the people have received nothing. Her parents, grandparents and great-grandparents have fought just to stay on that land. To tell her to check her privilege is not on.
Then there is Kitigan Zibi. There are so many young people from Kitigan Zibi. Kitigan Zibi is not very far from Ottawa. It is an incredible Algonquin community right beside Maniwaki. Maniwaki has clean drinking water, but Kitigan Zibi does not. The Conservatives tell the world that they can drive a bitumen pipeline through the Rocky Mountains, but we cannot get clean water to a community that close to Ottawa. This is why people are marching.
What we need to do here today is to not play games with these kinds of motions that the Conservatives are using to divide the Wet'suwet'en people.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Mr. Charlie Angus: We need to say we have a much bigger crisis. We need to start to untangle this and find a way to de-escalate, because—
View Alexandre Boulerice Profile
Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for her remarks. We have essentially the same point of view.
The Conservatives are talking a lot about legality when we know that, historically, with colonialism, legislation has often been used to steal land and violate the rights of indigenous peoples.
I would like to know what she thinks of the 1997 Supreme Court ruling that makes hereditary chiefs stewards of the land.
View Pam Damoff Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, I am not a lawyer and I am not going to pretend to be an expert on decisions, but I do know that Supreme Court decisions must be respected and I do not think any of us in this place should be so presumptuous as to speak for the Wet’suwet’en people. It really does a disservice to walking on this path of reconciliation for anyone in this place to think that he or she can speak for the Wet’suwet’en people.
View Lindsay Mathyssen Profile
View Lindsay Mathyssen Profile
2020-02-20 15:31 [p.1336]
Madam Speaker, the rail stoppage is affecting people's jobs and livelihoods. People in London—Fanshawe, my community, have certainly commented on that, and they want a clear resolution.
However, we need a real, lasting solution. We do not want to just get back to the way that things were. We need to really move forward in positive ways.
I need to know, will the government commit to working out a lasting, sustainable and just solution to the issue of title?
View Bob Bratina Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, I really appreciate the comments that are included in that question. The answer is absolutely.
That is why we cannot support the opposition day motion which condemns “the radical activists who are exploiting divisions.” We do not need this kind of language, this rhetoric and angry rebuttal to a situation that is being dealt with.
On the larger point, which my friend from Windsor West has noted, that is why we are continuing the way we are. This problem did not start two weeks ago, it started 200 years ago.
View Jamie Schmale Profile
Madam Speaker, I would like to start by saying I am going to split my time with my friend from Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan.
I made a statement in the House yesterday during Question Period that garnered a lot of heckling from the other side. I stated that I, along with my Conservative colleagues, support the Wet'suwet'en people.
I suppose to the Liberals and the NDP it was a funny thing for a Conservative to say, and a funny thing that we would support 20 out of 20 of the band councils that approved the Coastal GasLink pipeline, that we would support economic opportunity for first nations communities, that we would support law and order and that we would support indigenous communities raising themselves up.
Having said all that, the history of humanity is rife with situations of people not actually understanding each other all the time, their motivations, their values or desires. However, we have persevered and found ways to understand each other. We have built civilizations, we have co-operated and we have accomplished great things together.
The key to the complex process of understanding one another, of perceiving others' intentions and their motivations, is empathy. The neuroscience of empathy is quite fascinating. Humanity, meaning all of us without exception, is egocentric. We are inherently ugly people. We are narcissistic and at times preoccupied with fulfilling our own needs and desires. However, somewhere in our ancient past, we recognized the importance of caring for our children. We realized the benefits of co-operation, and our capacity for compassion and tolerance grew.
There is a part of the brain that recognizes our self-centredness. The right supramarginal gyrus recognizes the lack of empathy, and it adjusts our thinking accordingly. Researchers actually found that, when we make rash decisions, this part of the cerebral cortex does not work properly. Our ability to understand others is reduced greatly when we do not take the time to hear the views of others.
Researchers made another interesting discovery. When we are in a state of comfort or in a pleasant situation, we are less able to empathize with another's pain and suffering. They seized upon and verified an important truth: In order for humanity to make effective and compassionate decisions, we must be able to connect to that part of the brain that allows us to recognize our selfish nature. We do that most effectively by taking the time to hear, see and put ourselves in uncomfortable situations, the same situations as those we are empathizing with.
Fortunately for our species, and perhaps a testament to the great accomplishments we have all made together, the human brain is adjustable. Our capacity for empathy and compassion is never fixed. If we put ourselves in someone else's shoes and do unto others as we would have them do unto us, we can reinforce those neural connections and we can move down the road of reconciliation together.
The road will not be easy. Thousands of years of history have taught us that, but they have also taught us that together we can achieve amazing things.
Here we are asking the House to stand in solidarity with the majority of the Wet'suwet'en people who support the Coastal GasLink project. However, there are two sides. Not everyone supports the decisions of the majority of the Wet'suwet'en people or the 20 democratically elected leaders of the indigenous communities along the proposed pipeline route. While we struggle to put ourselves in other's shoes, we empathize with their concerns.
I have to wonder if those activists have put themselves in the shoes of the majority of indigenous peoples who value self-reliance, communication and fiscal accountability, who believe that resources should be sustainable and equitable, and who believe that governance should be based on their collective heritage. The Wet'suwet'en do. Those values are listed in their mission statement along with a powerful vision and purpose declaration stating:
We are proud, progressive Wet’suwet’en dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of our culture, traditions and territories; working as one for the betterment of all.
“For the betterment of all” is a very empathetic statement to be sure, one that should hang from the very ceiling of this place. Is that not why we are here, for the betterment of Canada and Canadians, one and all?
We also need to take a step back. We need to hear each other. We need to see each other. We need time to sort out these issues and to address them, to reconcile our differences and make agreements. This is why we need to end those blockades. It is not in order to punish, but to ease tension and move forward. Let us demonstrate that here, so we can do it there. We have waited far too long to act.
As people in all parts of our country fear shortages of essential goods and as job losses mount, the number of people demanding resolution grows. The Council of the Federation, a group composed of all of Canada's premiers, is calling for an immediate and peaceful end to these protests. Temperatures are rising. Yesterday in Edmonton, counter-protesters showed up and dismantled a barricade. Heated words were exchanged. Threats were made. Out of frustration and fear, people are not listening or looking at each other. We are all better than that.
During this upheaval the country is looking for leadership, yet despite calls from the hereditary chiefs for the Prime Minister to get involved, the Liberal government has done everything it could to distance itself from the ongoing conflict. The Prime Minister will now, I hope, start taking this matter very seriously. It is a national crisis that needs the utmost attention.
We ask the Prime Minister to act now, to stand with the majority of the Wet'suwet'en people who want to work as one for the betterment of all. Self-reliance fosters self-determination, and this is at the heart of economic reconciliation.
The National Aboriginal Economic Development Board produced its 2016 report, “Reconciliation: Growing Canada's Economy by $27.7 Billion”.
The board found that:
If Indigenous peoples had the same education and training as non-Indigenous peoples, the resulting increase in productivity would mean an additional $8.5 billion in income earned annually by the Indigenous population.
It went on:
If Indigenous peoples were given the same access to economic opportunities available to other Canadians, the resulting increase in employment would result in an additional $6.9 billion per year in employment income and approximately 135,000 newly employed Indigenous people.
If the poverty rates among Indigenous Peoples were reduced, the fiscal costs associated with supporting people living in poverty, would decline by an estimated $8.4 billion annually.
Overall, if the gap in opportunities for Indigenous communities across Canada were closed, it would result in an increase in GDP of $27.7 billion annually or a boost of about 1.5% to Canada's economy.
If we want to have true reconciliation, we must have economic reconciliation. It is good for indigenous communities. It is good for local municipalities and it is good for the Canadian economy.
The $6 billion, 670-kilometre Coastal GasLink pipeline, which received approval from the province, the 20 first nations band councils, including five of the six band councils in the Wet'suwet'en nation, is about economic reconciliation. It is ultimately about a shared future, one where government-to-government co-operation benefits all Canadians, both indigenous and non-indigenous.
Bonnie George, a Wet'suwet'en woman who has been ridiculed and called a traitor, maintains an enlightened view of the world. When asked about how the police and governments were handling this situation, she said:
The authorities, they're just like the rest of us. They have a job to fulfil. They have an injunction in front of them that they have to enforce and they did all possible, you know, to try to de-escalate.
She went on:
As a Wet'suwet'en person, it is really disheartening to see all of this unravel as it has, because our people—our hereditary chiefs and our elders in the past—they've always had discussions.
Let us allow Canadians to get back to work, allow the goods that Canadians need to ensure their health and safety to flow and our railways to go, our borders to be safe, and then, with earnest and swift resolve, meet with the Wet'suwet'en people and take the time to hear and see and to put ourselves in their position.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
Madam Speaker, we face a national crisis and we need strong leadership to address it. We have a natural gas pipeline project that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by displacing coal with cleaner natural gas. It will create jobs and opportunity, and it has the support of all elected indigenous leaders in the area and a majority of the local hereditary chiefs.
A small minority of hereditary chiefs oppose the designated route for this project, and so radical activists, many of whom are not indigenous, are using this issue as an excuse to shut down critical infrastructure and paralyze our national economy. These activists are operating openly under the banner Shut Down Canada, and they are succeeding to some extent. This is our winter of discontent.
These illegal blockades have forced massive job losses already and risk creating shortages of vital commodities in certain regions. There has also been tampering with rail lines, putting many people at risk. How bizarre that activists who claim to care about the environment are shutting down rail transport.
As the government fails to act, escalation continues. Escalation is the result of the messages that the government is sending that this kind of lawlessness is permissible. We have some members of this House who are explicitly celebrating these violent, illegal and dangerous protests. The longer this goes on, the more likely that we will see a repeat of these illegal blockades every time anyone tries to build anything.
We need a strong response from the government. We need the government to give policy direction to enforce the law. The government says it cannot direct the police force. Certainly it cannot direct operational aspects of its response, but it is the responsibility of an elected government in a democracy to give broad policy direction to our police. We accept, in many cases, that this kind of policy direction is right and necessary already.
In fact, the government is saying explicitly in this House that the police should not enforce the law. As such, the government is already giving policy direction. From my perspective, it is the wrong policy direction, but either way, I do not think here there is any serious dispute of the idea that civilian authority giving policy direction to police is legitimate. Indeed it is already happening. Civilian oversight of police is part of how democracy works.
Also in a democracy, the principle that justifies the use of force by police is the idea that police are there to protect society and law-abiding citizens, people who want to work and take the train to buy the things they need. The police have a moral obligation to protect law-abiding citizens by enforcing the law. There is a reasonable margin of discretion in enforcement, but if the police fail to enforce the law on a grand scale in a way that is injurious to the rights of law-abiding citizens, then they bring the law into disrepute and reintroduce a state of nature in which people feel they have no choice but to take the law into their own hands.
Conservatives' contention is that it is the obligation of the government and the police to ensure that the law is enforced. A failure to enforce the law leads to escalation as more and more people feel they do not have to respect the law. It then leads to a response from citizens and further chaos with devastating social and economic implications.
This present escalation is a national crisis, and it requires real leadership. The Prime Minister's response to this crisis has been to emphasize dialogue in isolation. He talks about the need to understand the experience of people with different perspectives. I will make two specific points about dialogue. The first is about the right time and place for dialogue and the second is about the question of with whom the government should be undertaking dialogue.
First, when is the right time and place for dialogue? It is critically important for all of us to seek to understand the experience and perspectives of different people. This is something I personally take very seriously. Over the Christmas break, I read Love & Courage, the NDP leader's book, which is by the way very good and very worth reading. I also read Common Ground, by Jonathan Kay. I read them both because I decided that it was important for me to understand the ideas and experience that influence the leaders of other parties.
In addition to reading and listening, after the appropriate period of proportionate deliberation, leaders must also have the capacity to take decisions in the public interest. There is a time for talk and there is a time for action. We must dialogue with people with whom we disagree, but we must also insist that we do not stand in the middle of railroad tracks in the process.
If a violent assailant came into my home to attack my family, I might be very curious to know his ideological motivation, whether he is motivated by some particular kind of violent extremism or reacting to violence he has experienced in his own life or something else. These would be interesting and perhaps important questions, but my first response to the violent assailant would obviously be to protect myself and my family.
When our vital national infrastructure is being violently blocked in violation of the rule of law and when rail tampering is not only endangering the economy but people's lives, then we must act to end the violence. We must dialogue, yes, but from a strong position of commitment to law and order. Dialogue and enforcement can happen concurrently on separate tracks, and not on train tracks.
Of greater importance is the question about with whom we should be dialoguing. There are large and complex issues involved in indigenous reconciliation, but these protests and the debate today are about a very specific issue: the development of the Coastal GasLink project.
All of the band councils impacted, and a majority of the hereditary chiefs, support the project. All of us in the House want to have a respectful, collaborative, serious and functioning nation-to-nation relationship with indigenous peoples. In order for one nation to have a functioning relationship with another nation, each nation's representatives must know who the representatives of the other nation are and be able to talk to them.
When Canada and the U.S. negotiate on trade issues, for example, we need to know who speaks for the American people so that we can talk to them and negotiate with them. Of course, we recognize that a nation's decision-making structure can be complex, but to work together two nations need a process through which the right people can talk to each other about the right things.
In the case of our relationship with a nation like the United Kingdom, we understand that there is an elected leadership in the British House of Commons and a hereditary structure in the royal family.
Although we recognize the important role in the British constitution and in our own Constitution for this form of hereditary leadership, we still understand that any nation-to-nation dialogue involves the pursuit of agreement with the elected representatives of the British people. If Canada and the U.K. were to negotiate a free trade deal through their elected governments and Houses of Parliament, and a member of the Royal Family decided that he or she did not like it, we would say that it is not necessarily for that person but rather for the elected representatives to speak on behalf of the nation.
Even if the present relationship of the Crown and Parliament was imposed through a Dutch colonial intervention in British affairs in 1688, it is still the law as it is.
This is what is required for a functioning nation-to-nation relationship. If we are to have a functioning nation-to-nation relationship with indigenous nations in Canada, then we must know who speaks for particular indigenous nations and who speaks for the Canadian government so that representatives for each side can dialogue and come to agreement. If we do not seek to identify who our dialogue partners are going to be, then we can never move forward together on anything.
I believe that while dialogue can happen between any groups of people, negotiation and a realization of agreements on behalf of a people are the responsibility of the elected representatives of that people. The idea that the elected representatives of a people speak for the people is not rooted in a particular cultural or intellectual tradition. Rather, it has come to be recognized as part of the body of universal human rights.
Article 21, subsection 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says:
The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.
Similar UN declarations recognize the rights of indigenous peoples to maintain and strengthen their own institutions, cultures and traditions. Indeed, it is the right of indigenous peoples to maintain, develop or change their own models of government, but that is a right vested in the peoples of indigenous nations, not in their hereditary leaders.
I believe in the rights of indigenous peoples and all peoples to democratically elect their own leaders. It must be the decisions of elected indigenous leaders that carry the day.
There could certainly be a role for hereditary chiefs in a democratic system, just as our system has a role for hereditary leadership in the form of the Canadian Crown. However, it is the fundamental human right of people to choose to develop if they wish. Our dialogue about the development plans of particular nations needs to be with the elected representatives of those particular nations.
Members have rightly spoken about the horrific violations of fundamental human rights of indigenous peoples in the past, but those violations do not justify the violations today of the rights of indigenous people to democratic self-determination. Those who think that they can overrule the democratically expressed wishes of this indigenous nation are just as colonialist in their thinking as the colonizers of the past.
We cannot negotiate with people who do not speak for these communities about the future of these communities. We must dialogue with the right people. Solidarity with people who are vulnerable is important. Being in solidarity with someone, though, does not mean that we claim to speak for them. I have not spoken about whether this project should go ahead, simply that the will of the elected leadership must prevail.
One thing that I have heard often from other members that is quite offensive is the suggestion that indigenous people who support development are somehow only doing it because of the money.
That is ridiculous. Legislators of all backgrounds and at all levels generally support economic development in their communities because they want a bright and more prosperous future for their children and grandchildren. These are reasonable decisions for elected indigenous leaders to make in view of the common good for the communities that they are elected to govern.
It is time that we clear the blockades and let the Wet’suwet’en people make their own choice.
View Patrick Weiler Profile
Lib. (BC)
Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Mount Royal.
I would like to acknowledge that we are gathered here on the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin people.
The motion before us today addresses a pressing issue impacting communities across the country. The current situation is difficult for everyone: indigenous and non-indigenous peoples, impacted communities, businesses, workers and travellers. I believe there remains time for all parties to engage in open and respectful dialogue to ensure the situation is resolved peacefully.
For more than 150 years, indigenous peoples in Canada have faced systemic discrimination in every aspect of their lives. Canada has prevented a true equal partnership from developing with indigenous peoples, imposing instead a relationship based on colonial ways of thinking and doing, paternalism and control.
The relationship of the past has provided us with a legacy of devastation, pain and suffering. For decades, indigenous peoples have been calling on the Canadian government to respect their right to jurisdiction over their own affairs and to have control and agency over their land, housing, education, and child and family services.
This history and growing awareness was the genesis of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which enshrines the right of indigenous peoples to self-determination. Its 46 articles cover collective and individual rights on everything from cultural identity and education to language and health rights. It is a universal framework for the survival, dignity and well-being of indigenous people all over the world.
I am very proud this was endorsed by Canada without qualification in 2016 and I am proud our government has committed to developing legislation to fully and effectively implement this framework by the end of this year.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's calls to action describe the declaration as the framework for reconciliation. That is because the declaration, fundamentally, is about advancing self-determination and rebalancing the relationship between states and indigenous peoples.
This is just one step on the long path toward reconciliation our government is taking. We are working to build a new relationship with indigenous peoples grounded in the affirmation of these rights, in respect, in co-operation, in partnership and in the aim for a new legacy built on a solid foundation of self-determination that we can be proud of.
As the Minister of Indigenous Services stated, it is clear that self-determination is the right path to take. We are making progress from coast to coast to coast. We are doing the work.
Indigenous self-government is important. Self-governing indigenous peoples have better socio-economic outcomes. More of their children finish high school. Fewer of their people are unemployed, and health outcomes are better.
Self-determination improves the health, well-being and prosperity of indigenous communities, and it benefits all Canadians. Conversations about self-determination and self-governance have never been more urgent, and steps are being taken to bring our country toward a future where indigenous peoples are the drivers of their own destinies and where the federal government is there to support them in any way they see fit.
It is a privilege to represent a riding that encompasses the territories of three first nations. We know that indigenizing our education systems empowers first nations, which is why the Ts'zil Learning Centre was the right step to help Lil'wat Nation thrive. Their learning philosophy is based in Lil'wat cultural renewal, holistic learning and personal growth. The learning centre is a potent example of what indigenous self-government looks like in education.
On the Sunshine Coast, the shíshálh Nation is leading the way. In 1986 they became the first band in Canada to achieve self-governance after a dialogue and partnership with the government that resulted in legislation being passed. They now hold elections, have control over their lands, administer services and share their culture with the community. They are excited to be embarking on a new affordable housing project for their people. They also recently had their first election after making their election process even more inclusive.
There are mechanisms within our power in order to help first nations partners. We are taking steps in the right direction. One of these mechanisms is to have regular meetings between the Prime Minister, key cabinet ministers and first nations, Inuit and Métis nations. These meetings are to identify each community's distinct priorities and help the government and indigenous peoples work together to develop solutions.
These permanent bilateral mechanisms were created to better serve indigenous peoples engaged in the important work of advancing greater self-determination. They also enable Crown-indigenous co-operation in identifying priorities and developing policies. This important national work will reflect the diversity and unique priorities of first nations, Inuit and Métis in Canada.
Another vehicle for advancing self-determination is through the negotiation of new treaties, self-government and other constructive arrangements. In the last four years, the government has created 90 new negotiation tables, including with the Wet'suwet'en, and there are now more than 150 active negotiation tables across the country to advance the relationship with indigenous peoples and support the spirit of self-determination.
We have taken steps to ensure that indigenous partners can fully participate in these discussions and advance conversations that promote the rebuilding of their nations.
We are also making changes to how we support indigenous participation in these negotiations. For example, we stopped requiring groups to take loans to sit down with us, and we are in the process of forgiving and reimbursing about $1.4 billion of comprehensive land claim loan debt. More than $100 million is provided annually to support indigenous participation in negotiations and to enhance capacity.
Progress is being made at these tables.
I have spoken of a number of successes in self-determination and self-governance. What many of these successes have in common is that they were achieved through co-operation. They were based on listening to indigenous partners as they led us to discuss and codevelop solutions to the issues that are most important to their communities.
We can learn from that, and to do so we need to understand that recognizing and affirming rights is a first step in finding a way forward. We need to support our indigenous partners to identify our challenges, and then we need to rise to them. We need to recognize that the most important actions that we can take are to listen to the hard truths, embrace change and welcome creative ideas.
We have all seen what happens when we do not come together to get the conversation going. It results in mistrust and confusion, which can be the root of conflicts. It is a barrier to moving forward together. We have seen that in the past. We must learn from those mistakes and make sure it does not happen again.
The Prime Minister noted that the issues we are facing were not created overnight. They were not created because we embarked upon a path of reconciliation recently in our history. It is because for too long and for too many years, we failed to take this path. After all this time, finding a solution will not be simple.
It is up to the rights holders to determine who speaks on their behalf regarding their aboriginal rights and title. Our government is committed to dedicating effort to continue those conversations.
We here in the House do not speak for our indigenous partners, but I hope we can take part in speaking with them. Standing up for the empowerment of first nations peoples and for their freedom of speech and self-governance is a vital role of the government in this instance. Acknowledging all of these challenges, the hard work ahead of us is worth the effort.
It is worth it for the youth of the next generation and for the ones after that, who will grow up seeing the Crown and indigenous peoples putting in the hard work, together, to invest in their future, improve their quality of life and heal.
It will take determination, persistence, patience and truth-telling. It will mean listening to and learning from indigenous partners, communities and youth and acting decisively on what we have heard, building trust and healing. It will mean doing everything we can to support the inherent right to self-determination of indigenous peoples.
We are at a critical juncture in Canada. Canadians want to see indigenous rights honoured, and they are impatient for meaningful progress. They are counting on us to engage with indigenous leaders, communities and peoples to achieve lasting, long-term results. This is what our government is committed to.
We can, and we will, build a better Canada together, one in which healthy, prosperous, self-determining and self-governing indigenous nations are key partners.
View Richard Cannings Profile
Madam Speaker, I know the member has a background in indigenous and environmental law and I agree with much of what he said.
I want to pick up on his point about the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We passed Bill C-262 two years ago. The government had an opportunity to act on and implement that bill and others since then, but it did not.
I wonder if the member can comment on how it might have changed the situation we are in now if the government were actually living up to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
View Patrick Weiler Profile
Lib. (BC)
Madam Speaker, it is absolutely critical that we bring the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into Canadian law. We have committed to do it this year. We supported that in the last Parliament, but it died in the Senate.
When we look at environmental assessments of industrial projects as we are implementing the articles of UNDRIP, it creates new opportunities to work with first nations and give them an opportunity to participate in the decision-making in their territories. Those ideas have already been instilled in the new Impact Assessment Act. As we move forward and implement this, it will cause major changes in a lot of our federal laws. It is something that is long overdue.
View Gord Johns Profile
View Gord Johns Profile
2020-02-20 16:35 [p.1346]
Madam Speaker, I share my colleague's perspective that this situation could have been avoided if the government had decided to not think that it could pick and choose when to support and recognize indigenous rights in this country. We cannot pick and choose when it comes to recognizing inherent rights and respecting them.
Dr. Judith Sayers, whom I respect greatly, is the president of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council. She would like this question answered:
Do you really consider that dealing with rights and title should be based on a score card or how many First Nations say yes against those who say no? How can you lawfully override the Hereditary Chiefs title that was evidenced in the Supreme court of Canada Delgamuukw decision?
This is a question that she has, and I hope the parliamentary secretary can answer that question.
View Anthony Housefather Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Anthony Housefather Profile
2020-02-20 16:37 [p.1346]
Madam Speaker, there is an elected council. The majority of the elected council supports the project. With respect to the hereditary chiefs, I acknowledge that outside the limited territory that the band council controls, there is power of the hereditary chiefs that has been recognized, and again there has to be negotiation with them. I am hoping that this negotiation will happen over the next couple of days and that there will be a fortuitously good outcome.
View Earl Dreeshen Profile
Madam Speaker, it is an honour for me to speak today about the relationship our country has with our first nations peoples.
As a teacher for over 34 years, for 32 of those years, I proudly displayed a commemorative plaque from the Treaty Six Centennial celebrations that I attended at the Saddle Lake Reserve with Peter Lougheed, Bob Clark, the leader of the opposition, and Grant Notley. It was a very poignant opportunity for me to get a chance to see what was important to indigenous people. Engraved on the plaque are the words “For as long as the Sun shines, the Rivers flow and the Grass grows”, a reminder that is still proudly displayed in my office in Ottawa.
Additionally, I was proud to sit at the aboriginal affairs and northern development committee when we were in government and to pursue initiatives like matrimonial property rights and transparency legislation that were asked for by our first nations groups. These initiatives did not always sit well with some of the band leaders, but they did resonate with members.
When our government sought to improve the first nations education system, which would have included some of the recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report, I asked to once again sit at this committee. Sadly, that initiative, spearheaded by former grand chief Shawn Atleo, in conjunction with Prime Minister Harper, was shut down before it could take off. As a former teacher, I was truly disappointed.
From my experience as a teacher, I have seen the inequity, the gaps in learning and the unacceptable dropout rates. I shared the frustration that existed with our first nation parents who wanted more for their children, for as Ts'im-shian author Calvin Helin had alluded to in his book, Dances with Dependency, the cycle of dependency was only broken when the bonds of colonialism were cut. He argued that the ancestors would not have accepted their children to live without hope and purpose, that they would have wanted their children to know of their culture and their heritage and that the ancestors would expect them to look after their community and ensure they lived proudly.
This is why I proudly stand in solidarity with every elected band council on the Coastal GasLink route and with every band council that chooses this land's natural wealth as its path forward for its people. The band councils understand that using Canadian oil and gas is not only more economically sensible for their membership, but also a humanitarian and environmentally friendly solution for the globe. This is also why I stand with the majority of the hereditary chiefs and the vast majority of the Wet'suwet'en people and why I condemn the radical activists who use issues like this to undermine opportunities for all Canadians.
Now we are faced with an interesting challenge, given the political climate in our country right now. Some people in Ottawa have a narrow focus on what it means to be good stewards of the environment. They think that the sum of a society's commitment to the environment is the amount of carbon they produce in Canada and what that source of carbon is. Very real and important conservation initiatives have been going on throughout Canada in the oil and gas sector that have simply been glossed over to fulfill their narrative.
Similarly, these activists' rationale for holding Canada's economy hostage is as varied as the foreign interests that fund them, whether it be investors in renewable energy or oil and gas interests that simply know they can buy up our resources cheaply in the future, reaping the benefits when the rest of the world's energy dries up. Believe me, none of this is in our nation's best interest.
Where are we now? For the past 15 days, the country has been held hostage and the government has done nothing. Our economy, our people and our security as Canadians are being held up by a protest movement that is disrespectful to the majority of our indigenous peoples' desire to give their children and grandchildren the opportunities they never had, and the Liberal government has done nothing.
The protests have temporarily stopped VIA Rail passenger trains as well as CN trains, cutting off routes between Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Kingston, and the Liberal government has done nothing.
A variety of shipments, whether it be food, construction materials, lumber, aluminum, coal, propane, things that people need to survive, have been affected by the rail blockades, and the Liberal government once again has done nothing.
CN Rail announced the laying off of 450 workers in its operation in eastern Canada as a result of the blockades. What has the Liberal government done? Nothing. The government's inaction has led to a national crisis in Canada, and it still will not act.
Canada's retailers and manufacturers are braced for shutdowns and face dwindling supplies as blockades at ports and on rail lines bring much of the country's rail freight network to a halt. CN rail's coast to coast system is at risk of shutting down.
As reported by CBC this morning, some of the members of the Wet'suwet'en people want the protesters to stop. Currently, the protests are not helping their communities, which they say already have fractured governance. These protests have amplified the conflict in the community and distracted Wet'suwet'en people from resolving their differences.
As I said before, the vast majority of these people support the Coastal GasLink project. Every elected band council on the Coastal GasLink route supports the project. Even the majority of hereditary chiefs support this project. The vast majority of first nations community members support the project because it will create jobs, opportunities and investments in communities, and in the end it will help reduce global greenhouse emissions.
Democracy and the rule of law are fundamental pillars of our country, and it is time they are enforced. Our democratic values ensure that every person has the right to freedom of speech and freedom to protest, but people do not have the right to harm the security and livelihood of other Canadians.
The Prime Minister needs to denounce the illegal actions of the radical activists, formulate an action plan that will put an end to the blockages, ensure that the support for this project expressed by the vast majority of the Wet'suwet'en people is upheld and get our economy back on track. If he does not, the Liberal government will be setting a dangerous precedent that the civil unrest of a few can have a devastating impact on the lives of countless Canadians and that the government is not willing to enforce the law to protect Canadians.
Additionally, counter-protesters have started rising up to voice their dissatisfaction with the current situation. With these heightened tensions, leaving things as they are now is irresponsible.
The impact is also being felt beyond Canada's borders and is harming the country's reputation as a stable and viable supply chain partner.
These groups are emboldened and will continue to create havoc as the inaction tells all activists they can have a devastating impact on the lives of countless Canadians and the government is not willing to enforce the law to protect those Canadians.
As was evident in the Vice-Admiral Mark Norman case, the shameful treatment of the former attorney general, ethics violations and so many other transgressions, the government's opinion of right and wrong is truly suspect.
I urge the government to work night and day to resolve this issue, because to give opportunities for indigenous people to share in our world-class resource development is the right thing. Now is the time to act.
View Gord Johns Profile
View Gord Johns Profile
2020-02-20 17:18 [p.1352]
Mr. Speaker, earlier I mentioned indigenous people in our country. I think of the indigenous people in my riding, who won a Supreme Court decision for the right to catch and sell fish that reaffirmed their right, which as we know is protected in our Constitution.
I find it interesting when we see a motion like this. We keep hearing about law and order, and the Conservatives say that we have to take a law-and-order approach. We have seen over 170 court cases in this country side with indigenous people. What does the government do? It appeals or ignores the decisions made in the courts and leaves people suffering.
Indigenous children are not able to access the same services as non-indigenous children. People like the Nuu-chah-nulth are blocked from self-determination and ways that they can support their own communities. We talk about the economic impact of the Conservative and Liberal approaches to this.
Could the member speak about how, when we stand up for indigenous rights, we need to be standing up for law and order, standing up for the courts in this country and respecting the inherent rights of the indigenous people of this land?
View Sylvie Bérubé Profile
Mr. Speaker, I agree with my colleague. The important thing is to respect indigenous rights. I think they are in the best position to show us the way and resolve this crisis. We need to initiate talks and negotiations.
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