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Results: 1 - 15 of 2318
View Carolyn Bennett Profile
Lib. (ON)
Kwe kwe, Unnusakkut, Tansi, hello.
I am speaking to you today from the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. I also wish to honour the waters they paddled and their moccasins which walked these lands.
I am joining you along with my colleague, the Minister of Northern Affairs, and we are supported by our deputy minister, Daniel Watson, and his team.
While I am appearing today on my department’s 2021-2022 supplementary estimates (A), it is also at a difficult time for indigenous communities, and all Canadians.
We are all deeply heartbroken at the discovery of the unmarked remains of children at the former Kamloops residential school. This has shocked and disturbed the nation. For indigenous people across the country, these findings are deeply painful and traumatizing, but for them not as surprising, as this was forecast. These have been the stories and the “knowings” for a very long time. For six years the Truth and Reconciliation Commission heard these hard truths, along with many others, during their national and regional reconciliation gatherings. These revelations have reopened many wounds and renewed a necessary conversation on the role of residential schools, those responsible, and how as a country we can move forward together.
We are working with the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation and our partners, such as the B.C. First Nations Health Authority, to provide the resources and the supports needed, as determined by the community. I have spoken with Kúkpi7 Casimir, most recently on Monday night, and her leadership and strength have been exemplary. We have offered support for healing, mental health supports, security and whatever she needs to support her community now, as well as support for research, archaeological expertise and commemoration going forward.
In memory of all of the children who went missing, and in support of their grieving families and communities, we provided $33.8 million through budget 2019 to implement TRC calls to action 72 to 76.
To support implementing calls to action 72 and 73, we have funded the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation to develop and maintain the national residential school student death register and establish an online registry of residential school cemeteries.
In keeping with the principles laid out in call to action 76, after the passage of budget 2019 we engaged with communities to ensure that any program to deliver the funds to support calls to action 74 and 75 was designed in a way to meet their needs, be flexible enough to support community-led approaches and respect community protocols.
Based on what we heard, we are currently providing funding, on an urgent basis, to support indigenous-led, community-based, survivor-centric and culturally sensitive investigations of these burial sites. We are actively reaching out to indigenous communities to work with them on how they can access the $27 million of funding being delivered to support them in finding their lost children. Communities know what they need. Our government will be there to support their way forward.
In discussing the supplementary estimates (A), we know that the money is there to heal past wrongs, support self-determination and advance reconciliation with first nations, Inuit and Métis people. They reflect a net increase of $997 million, which includes the $136.4 million in new funding and $868.2 million in re-profiled funding. The re-profiled funding in these estimates will preserve funding for the ongoing implementation of the Federal Indian Day Schools Settlement Agreement and the sixties scoop settlement. As of May 31, 2021, of more than 113,000 claims received under the Federal Indian Day Schools Settlement Agreement, over 75,000 survivors have received payment of individual compensation. While COVID-19 has delayed the implementation of the Sixties Scoop Settlement Agreement, approximately 15,000 interim payments of $21,000 have been paid. These supplementary estimates will preserve the funding to complete the individual compensation, which should be determined later in the fiscal year.
These supplementary estimates also include funding to support Inuit housing, Tŝilhqot’in community priorities through their pathway agreement, implementation of the Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement and many other important measures to support reconciliation.
We have provided you with a comprehensive deck on the supplementary estimates (A). I look forward to providing further details through your questions.
Meegwetch. Nakurmiik. Marsi. Thank you.
View Sylvie Bérubé Profile
I would be very grateful.
My next question is for Mr. Vandal.
Earlier, you talked about Louis Riel. As a Quebecker, I can only reiterate the historic close relationship between Quebec and the Métis Nation. Ottawa has never exonerated Louis Riel after he was unjustly executed.
Do you think it is time for the federal government to finally apologize and exonerate Louis Riel?
View Dan Vandal Profile
Lib. (MB)
Thank you for that excellent question.
I can tell you that neither the elected Métis governments nor the direct descendants of Louis Riel want a pardon. Our government respects the indigenous peoples' rights to self-determination and self-government. I know this is a major issue. Important discussions are underway in the communities.
I would say that it is up to the Métis communities to offer us guidance from their perspective.
View Sylvie Bérubé Profile
My next question is for Ms. Bennett.
Bill C-15 is currently being considered in the Senate. Time is running out, and I have two questions on that subject.
First, are you hopeful that this bill will receive royal assent by the end of the parliamentary session?
Second, will there be a commitment that royal assent will be granted for Bill C-15 by a governor general who would be the first indigenous person to hold that office?
View Carolyn Bennett Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you for your question.
I believe that Mr.Leblanc said last Saturday that there was an indigenous person among the potential candidates for the office of governor general. We are awaiting the outcome of that process.
To answer your question concerning comprehensive claims, first, there is a grant for the Assembly of First Nations so that they can participate. Second, there will be revisions to our federal policy.
View Mumilaaq Qaqqaq Profile
View Mumilaaq Qaqqaq Profile
2021-06-10 13:13
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
The supplementary budget estimates include $1.2 billion in funding for out-of-court settlements for indigenous legal cases. The legal system has failed indigenous peoples countless times. Where do you expect that money to be used?
View Marc Miller Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thanks, MP Qaqqaq.
I will acknowledge that the legal system in Canada has failed indigenous peoples. One of the present challenges we face as a government and continue to face is that where we are in disagreement in a respectful way.... Obviously, out of court is the preferred way to do so.
I'd ask my team to specify those numbers, because I'm aware of many cases. If they could just break down quickly what those numbers comprise....
We can give you a written response, too.
View Mumilaaq Qaqqaq Profile
View Mumilaaq Qaqqaq Profile
2021-06-10 13:14
I think that out of court is the way that the federal institution has forced this to go. Residential school survivors should be compensated, and they shouldn't have to sue the government to settle out of court to get their money.
Why is the government willing to spend more than a billion dollars on court settlements but not on ensuring that indigenous peoples have access to basic human rights like housing?
View Marc Miller Profile
Lib. (QC)
This touches on a question that I, perhaps, can't answer in the time remaining, but closing those socio-economic gaps, talking about those issues that have driven the inequities and violations of human rights, is key. We don't want to get into a court process, but again, people who have suffered harm need to be compensated.
Transforming the system is a part of that, and as you note by implication, no single court case can transform the system when it comes to child and family care as Bill C-92 can and aspires to, as well as all the transformative pieces of legislation in and around languages and inherent right and that form of reparations that we need to do to transform Canada into what people believe it to be but that, frankly, with the news in the last two weeks, is not.
Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux
View Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux Profile
Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux
2021-06-03 12:49
Thank you, Stephanie.
Thank you to the commissioners, as well, for the work you've done in the past and the truth that you brought to light.
I'd like to thank the standing committee, as well, for the opportunity to speak to you today.
I'd like to say good afternoon. I am a proud member and resident of the Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation in Lake Simcoe.
Together with the Chippewas of Beausoleil and Rama, and the Mississaugas of Alderville, Curve Lake, Hiawatha and Scugog Island, we are all signatories to several treaties signed throughout the 18th and 19th centuries that covered lands in different parts of southern and central Ontario. I'd like to acknowledge that I'm speaking to you from the original lands of the Chippewa today.
First, I also want you to know that both my parents attended residential school and spent 20 years there between them, my father going at the very young age of four, actually being raised there and also suffering the consequences of that through the rest of his life.
I think there are two things that need to be done.
The first is to finally uncover the truth—and I mean truth with a capital T, because we've had a lot of truth-telling, but we have not had the final truth—to finally and completely identify all the children who never returned home. Paramount to this step is having all parties to the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement release all the relevant records needed to document this truth.
The second is upholding indigenous protocols around mourning and ensuring that indigenous communities determine what ceremonies and commemorations are necessary and appropriate to honour the children who died and those who never returned home.
For years, the Canadian government denied indigenous peoples the freedom to practise our sacred ceremonies and cultural practices. The residential school system had a role—if not the largest role—in reinforcing this. Survivors have shared that residential schools had a detrimental impact on their ability to grieve.
It is therefore necessary that communities be supported to bring in knowledge-keepers and undertake the ceremonies that were so long denied to the missing children, their families and their communities. There is an ongoing restoration process that must be supported for our next generations.
I want to underline the TRC’s call to action 76, which says that indigenous peoples must be able to lead in the development of strategies for documenting, maintaining, commemorating and protecting residential school cemeteries.
In the view of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation—and the survivors we depend on to guide us—hiding, damaging, interfering with or destroying the graves of residential school children must be recognized as a crime and prosecuted as such.
In addition, national standards must be put in place concerning the use of investigative technologies, such as ground-scanning radar, to ensure that the privacy of affected families is respected and that any evidence of crimes is not compromised.
Finally, all measures to investigate and protect burial sites must be consistent with the rights of indigenous people in domestic and international law, including the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Yesterday, the federal Minister for Crown-Indigenous Relations announced that previously allocated funding for the investigation of gravesites would finally be made available to first nations, Inuit and Métis Nation governments and communities. In making the announcement, the minister told reporters that indigenous peoples weren’t ready for the money to be released before this.
This is quite simply untrue. The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, survivors and our partners have been working within frameworks of collaboration, respect for diverse indigenous protocols and adherence to the guidance of survivors and knowledge-keepers for many years—as you heard former commissioner Wilson say.
The federal government has been told time and time again that the need for action is urgent. The national centre and indigenous communities have been desperate to begin meaningful action in locating gravesites, but have been severely underfunded. We've made progress on this journey towards truth, reconciliation and healing, but more truth—a deeper truth—remains.
The Kamloops school brings into focus just how much more work we have to do as a country. This is going to require genuine, sustained action by the Government of Canada to meet the obligations required to right this horrific wrong. Survivors have consistently said that before we can meaningfully talk about reconciliation, we must have truth and we must have healing.
The Aboriginal Healing Foundation was cut short in its work, and its support would be very appropriate right now. Until we have identified all the children who never came home from residential schools, we will not know the whole truth. Until those children are finally returned to their families and communities, the healing journey will remain incomplete.
This is a collective task before us. We must do this in a good way without any further delay.
Meegwetch for your time and attention.
View Arnold Viersen Profile
To sum up the thought, if it doesn't say that you can't do it, that's not allowing that you can't do it kind of thing, right?
Julian Falconer
View Julian Falconer Profile
Julian Falconer
2021-05-13 19:18
That's true, and I should draw something to your attention, because it just came out in February of this year. To be honest, I think it speaks to what Chief Morrison said.
It's a quote from a judgment involving Iskatewizaagegan, so Shoal Lake No. 39 versus Winnipeg. Winnipeg's sole source of drinking water is my client Shoal Lake, since 1913, 100 million gallons a day.
This is what a judge said. It's one paragraph. I promise this won't take long. He recognized the role of indigenous law. I think you will be fascinated by this. It's paragraph 48 of a February judgment, just this February:
The law that governs the relationship between Canada and Aboriginal peoples of Canada is what is now known as Aboriginal law. Indigenous law is not the same as Aboriginal law. Both before and after the arrival of European settlers, the Aboriginal peoples in North America had well-developed civilizations that had legal systems and legal customs. Those discrete legal systems are the source of Indigenous law.
We will make sure we get you that passage, but it's exactly what Chief Morrison was talking about before, and it reflects a Superior Court Judge, Justice Perell, who has gone to the next level. We all have to get there, right?
Connie Lazore
View Connie Lazore Profile
Connie Lazore
2021-05-13 11:19
With support from Minister Lametti, that table will continue to work.
We have legislative development and we have four years to exercise our inherent right to develop, approve and implement our laws in our community. Those laws—like every law that is created—are based on a need. We are currently working to approve our cannabis law, an emergency management act, the fire code and amendments to the election law. We need laws such as a child welfare laws, landlord/tenant laws, and education and language laws. Those will be next on our list.
What we need—
Brooks Arcand-Paul
View Brooks Arcand-Paul Profile
Brooks Arcand-Paul
2021-05-13 11:39
[Witness spoke in Nêhiyawêwin and provided the following text:]
Ahâw nitotemtik kiatamiskâtinawâw kâhkîyaw, nitikawin sîpîysis, kipohtakaw ohciniya.
[Witness provided the following translation:]
Dear friends, I am greeting all of you in a good way, my name is sîpîysis, and I am from the Alexander First Nation.
Thank you, Mr. Chair. My name is Brooks Arcand-Paul. My traditional name is Sîpîysis, which means “little river” in nêhiyawewin, my people's language.
I'm the vice-president of the Indigenous Bar Association of Canada. I'm also an in-house counsel for the Alexander First Nation. I'm here today to represent the Indigenous Bar Association and to discuss the important topic of law enforcement on first nations reserves.
As a practitioner on reserve, and having primarily first nations in Alberta as clients while in private practice, I am intimately aware of the issues that exist within the framework of enforcement on reserve in Alberta and certainly on the Prairies. I've been dealing with this issue regularly in my practice. The same problems are highlighted time and time again.
First, we must acknowledge that self-government and self-determination won't happen if we fail to address the elephant in the room. That elephant is Canada's ongoing paternalism towards its indigenous partners in Confederation.
Our treaties have given this country the authority to exist. Before those treaties were concluded, this very country recognized that my ancestors, and those of other indigenous groups who entered into similar relationships with the Crown, had decision-making capacities, including the application and use of our own legal systems that were never subordinate to any government in Canada.
Further, Canadian courts have repeated since Confederation that indigenous peoples continue to have the right to use their laws for areas including, but not limited to, family law, adoption, and marriage, and have given deference to nations that enact their own laws and customs. For a piece of legislation such as the Indian Act or FNLMA to continue to exert paternalism is discriminatory. It is shameful for Canada to treat its partner in Confederation as incapable of making legal decisions outside the confines of legislation.
If we are truly intent on getting back to the relationship that was intended under our treaties and modern agreements, or as required on unceded territories, we have to reconceptualize what it means to recognize indigenous legal rights. If we're not doing a wholescale removal of the acts, we need to get creative in how we move forward together in a good way, as was intended when our ancestors both became beneficiaries of our continued sharing of the territories currently called Canada.
I will move to the next issue that first nations experience when it comes to the limited law-making rights afforded to them under the act. When a bylaw is intra vires a band council's authority, the most common and pressing issue remains enforcement—that police forces and the public prosecution services of Canada will not enforce these fully legal instruments under federal jurisdiction.
In terms of law enforcement, the first issue is the capacity of a first nation to draft, implement and enforce bylaws under existing regimes. It's expensive to draft bylaws. Many first nations don't have in-house counsel to assist them in drafting exercises to cover the many different layers that these bylaws must adhere to in order to be legally binding.
The issues may include, but aren't limited to, procedural fairness, privacy laws, human rights, charter rights and overall constitutionality.
Most recently, an RCMP detachment local to one of my clients stated that they are not able to enforce band bylaws on the reserve, with perhaps the exception of trespass bylaws, and that it was incumbent on first nations themselves to go through the onerous process of hiring an officer to enforce such bylaws. Additionally, the RCMP agent went on further to mention that some officers are not educated on how they could enforce such bylaws. However, I do want to highlight that there was an interest by the RCMP to assist in enforcement.
If they were given the tools to do so, first nations may be better suited to exercise the law-making capacities with the assistance of their neighbouring police detachments or through their own officers where applicable. This latter option obviously comes at the nation's own cost to draft bylaws; apply to become an authorized employer of an officer; purchase equipment, including appropriate vehicles, uniforms, firearms, etc.; and hire a fair complement of officers to ensure coverage to the nation. Many nations do not have spare funds to even consider engaging in these activities, as they have other pressing issues to deal with, including the ongoing demands of the pandemic.
Over the course of my work on these issues, I've been stonewalled by the Public Prosecution Service of Canada with regard to the enforcement of bylaws for first nations.
Mr. Richstone raised this issue before the committee the other day.
The public prosecutions office is not seized with the ability to prosecute these bylaws, which Mr. Richstone affectionately referred to as “community laws”.
I would argue that such bylaws, formed under the act, are within the ambit of federal laws, given the first nations' stature within the federation. However, I would go one step further and recognize that Mr. Richstone was correct in his statement that laws passed by first nations should be attracted with the appropriate enforcement by all levels of law enforcement in Canada. Many of your agents are offering their willingness to do so, and I would further argue that they are trying to be good treaty partners in extending their willingness to enforce our laws. It is now your turn.
In sum, I make three major recommendations: a review of the bylaw-making capacities of first nations to amend the act to reflect that first nations have the authority to enact laws, not just bylaws; that such laws be adequately funded for first nations to develop and/or enforce; and finally, that such laws be enforced by those charged to do so, akin to the laws of other law-making jurisdictions in the federation, including your own.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
View Jaime Battiste Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Jaime Battiste Profile
2021-05-13 12:58
Yes, and I agree with you, Brooks, on that.
One of the things I'm hearing about from the chiefs is the inadequacy of expanding powers within the Indian Act. With all the treaties and all of the different jurisdictions, I have heard Indigenous Bar Association members in presentations talk about having a treaty or inherent right attorney general to help guide the current Attorney General to navigate some of these to ensure....
The bottom line is that people on reserve in indigenous communities want to feel safe and they want to know that their laws to keep themselves safe will not only be enforced but will be prosecuted. What kind of mechanism do we need on this?
You have about two minutes. Can you expand on what you see as being needed for us to be able to find solutions to this challenge?
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