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Results: 1 - 15 of 94
View Marc Miller Profile
Lib. (QC)
moved for leave to introduce Bill C‑45, An Act to amend the First Nations Fiscal Management Act, to make consequential amendments to other Acts, and to make a clarification relating to another Act.
View Marc Miller Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, indeed, it is a disgrace that these survivors have not been compensated up to now. I sat down with a number of them this summer and had the opportunity to hear the pain that they continue to be going through. This is retriggered by a number of the settlements that we are achieving across Canada.
These survivors deserve justice. Unfortunately, the Government of Saskatchewan has not acted up to this date, and it needs to be at the table with us. These were administered by the Government of Saskatchewan. It needs to be held accountable. Reconciliation is not only the job of the federal government, which is to be held to account, but for all levels of government. We need the Government of Saskatchewan to step up.
View Marc Miller Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, the member's question is an important one, not only for all the survivors and families that were sent to this hideous institution but also for the communities that are going through a lot of pain and trauma trying to come to grips with that grim reality. This continues to shock the conscience of Canadians.
I have spoken to Chief Councillor Ken Watts on a number of occasions and have visited the community twice. I have undertaken to do all we can on behalf of Canada to make sure there is some measure of healing that is afforded to those survivors as well as to the community.
View Marc Miller Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I will note at the outset that I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Sydney—Victoria.
Kwe, ullukkut, tansi, hello and bonjour.
I will also acknowledge this debate is taking place on the unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinabe people as we acknowledge the horrific and devastating murder of four indigenous women in Winnipeg.
This is a week where the expression “being treated like garbage” took on a tragic and literal meaning. These women were and are the victims of senseless violence. Their lives were taken from them. Their futures were stolen from them and their families. Each of them were cherished and loved by members of their families and communities.
I had the privilege yesterday of meeting one of the families. I am obviously humbled by our conversations, and I want them to know, although I had little opportunity to speak as it was not my place, that I heard them. Nobody should have to go through this pain or the trauma of uncovering the truth. No one should have to struggle to obtain justice, and nobody should have to sift through the trash looking for their loved ones.
In a sad twist of fate, yesterday was the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. It was a violent femicide when 14 women were killed and 13 others were injured at the École Polytechnique de Montréal 33 years ago.
Quite frankly, I am disgusted by what is happening. There is a crisis involving the disappearance and murder of indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQI+ people. Together, as a nation and at various levels of government, we have the responsibility to respond to the calls for justice and to provide access to safe spaces and programs that help the most vulnerable to not be targeted.
Canada needs to do better for all of the families, the survivors and the communities that have to live with the consequences.
It was made clear in the final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls that the federal government, all other levels of governments, the private sector and civil society each has a responsibility to address this national crisis that is ongoing. The report made clear that “jurisdiction” was a poisonous word and a word that contributes to the killing of indigenous women and girls.
While we are focused on a very tragic murder and the circumstances surrounding it, as governments and as people, we need to focus on every step of the way that put these indigenous women and girls in the vulnerable situation they found themselves in. Today, women on the street perhaps face that same challenge.
As a result of the final report on missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, Canada funded projects to support families and survivors, build cultural spaces and strengthen capacity for indigenous women and girls and 2SLGBTQI+ organizations, as well as launched indigenous-led data initiatives. This includes many initiatives in Manitoba that many members have spoken about.
Over the past year, Canada has supported 65 cultural spaces and provided infrastructure investments that speak specifically to the priorities identified in call for justice 2.3. Despite these investments and despite the work we are doing to implement the calls to action, the progress is slow, and we keep failing indigenous women and girls across this country. Sadly, it is shameful that I am standing in the House saying that I do not know with any certainty whether any of those investments, had they been made in the places where they needed to be made, would have saved lives.
I will not go on much longer with this speech, but I do want to say that as a nation we have a duty to keep breaking down jurisdictional boundaries and keep breaking down the silos within our own government that keep failing indigenous women and girls. As I have heard from the House tonight, this needs to be multipartisan. I welcome initiatives from the House. I welcome initiatives for increased oversight to make sure the federal government is doing its part in responding to this tragedy.
No one should be bragging about what they are doing until every single indigenous woman, child and 2SLGBTQI+ person in this country is safe.
View Marc Miller Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, in this context, independent oversight is absolutely key. I welcome the House's support of Bill C-29 to create a national council for reconciliation, which would be able to monitor, in particular, the TRC calls to action.
The government is also open to appointing an ombudsperson, in the right context, to monitor specifically the calls for justice from the final report on missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. This work will have to be done in partnership. The Government of Canada cannot single-handedly impose that ombudsman without doing the engagement that is necessary. I think people's patience is quite thin in making sure that there are independent mechanisms to verify what we are doing as a government, but we would welcome that initiative.
View Marc Miller Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I should have clarified my thought. We are supportive of putting in place call for justice 1.7, which does call for an ombudsperson. We need that engagement to occur so that it is done in the proper procedural way. This is something the government is open to and will be moving on.
As for the calls that we have heard from the families, I would have to see what exactly is being called for with respect to that site. I heard it clearly yesterday, but we need to understand exactly what needs to be put in place to support that. We clearly do not want remains being disturbed. The feasibility of doing searches, given the toxic nature of the land site, is something that I do not have expertise on. We need that expertise. We also need to put the resources in place to make sure these women are properly honoured and that if searches are done, they are done in an exhaustive fashion.
View Marc Miller Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, it is very difficult to answer this in a short time, but clearly what the final report said is that structural and generational elements have put women in the vulnerable situation they find themselves in today.
The member opposite mentioned land, extractive activities, the reform of child and family services and education as contributing factors that put women in this vulnerable situation. These are all reforms that take time. It is frustrating to hear that, but if there is anything the final report told us, it is that we need to attack this in a systemic and systematic way, and some of those reforms absolutely do take time. It does not mean lack of effort. It means the understanding that the genesis of this goes back decades, and it will take time to make sure that every indigenous woman and child is safe in this country.
View Marc Miller Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, our hearts go out to the families of the victims. It is not on a day like this that we can sit here and pat ourselves on the back about what we have been doing as a government. Obviously, it has not been enough. It is very puzzling to hear the news that this landfill will not be searched. I spoke to the mayor of Winnipeg yesterday about this and hope to get some clear answers shortly. Clearly, the federal government needs to play a role in an area where jurisdiction is a poisonous word and continues to kill indigenous women and children in this country.
View Marc Miller Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, extremism of the nature described by the member opposite is one of the biggest terrorist threats in this country, and it continues to prey on those who are most vulnerable, including indigenous women, children, girls and LGBTQ folks across the country.
We need a comprehensive federal response. We need a comprehensive provincial response. We need a comprehensive municipal response.
It is why, in part, I have called for a federal, provincial, territorial and indigenous meeting in January to discuss the painful issue of MMIWG and why we continue to fail as governments in making sure that everyone in this country is indeed safe.
View Marc Miller Profile
Lib. (QC)
moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.
He said: Mr. Speaker, kwe, kwe. Ullukkut. Tansi. Hello. Bonjour.
First, before I begin the more formal parts of my speech, I want to acknowledge that we are on the unceded traditional territory of the Algonquin Anishinabe people.
At this time, I would also like to seek unanimous consent of the House to split my time with the member for Sydney—Victoria.
View Marc Miller Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to begin third reading debate on Bill C-29, an act that would provide the establishment of a national council for reconciliation.
First, I would like to thank my colleagues from all parties in the House who supported this bill and expressed their comments and concerns about the bill at second reading. We heard their input.
Many of these comments were taken up in committee and amendments were adopted. In this regard, I would also like to thank all the members of the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs for their thorough consideration of Bill C-29. In the past month and a half, during the seven meetings on this bill, the committee heard from 32 witnesses.
I would like to acknowledge all the witnesses who took the time to present their perspectives and answer the committee's questions. Every piece of testimony was critical. It allowed us to make important amendments to strengthen the bill before us today.
Following the advice of the transitional committee, on June 22, 2022, we introduced Bill C-29, which seeks to establish a national council for reconciliation.
The Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs' study was extensive. It is worth noting once again that 32 witnesses provided testimony to the committee, including representatives of national, provincial and territorial indigenous organizations, councils and governments, a former commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, federal officials from the departments of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada and Justice Canada and four of the national council for reconciliation transitional committee members.
Through their testimonies, many witnesses proposed concrete suggestions on how we can strengthen this legislation.
Many of these amendments are now included in the version of the bill that is before Parliament today. I can say that these amendments are consistent with the general legal and policy objectives of Bill C-29, that they do not raise legal risks and that they do not have immediate financial implications.
I will explain some of the major changes we have made together.
First, we made several changes to ensure that the board promotes diversity and inclusion. One thing that was stressed to us on many occasions, as part of our engagement with indigenous peoples and organizations, and again when the committee reviewed the bill, was the importance of having a board that is representative of the realities of indigenous peoples in Canada.
The original bill provided that the board of directors should consist of 9 to 13 persons, two-thirds of whom would be indigenous. It also provided for the inclusion of individuals from the following groups: first nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, as well as other peoples in Canada; Indigenous organizations, including a representative from the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Métis National Council; youth, women, men and gender-diverse persons; and people from various regions of Canada, including urban, rural and remote regions.
Throughout the committee process, we worked with partners and committee members to increase the diversity of the board. We had to ensure the participation of additional voices, including those from the territories, elders and, very importantly, survivors of residential schools and other discriminatory policies, and their descendants.
There was also an amendment to ensure the board must ensure and equitably reflect gender diversity. Gender balance is vital for respecting the rights of women and making progress on issues faced by women and gender diverse peoples. Adding the Native Women's Association of Canada to the list of national indigenous organizations ensures women's voices will be centred and attention will be given to the MMIWG calls to justice.
While the bill already guarantees regional representation, more was needed to ensure the inclusion of a northern perspective based on the fact that indigenous peoples represent a higher percentage of territorial populations. The amended bill provides that at least two of the board's members must be from the north. This is a good development.
In all indigenous cultures, communities and organizations, elders are central figures. As such, an amendment has been made to ensure elders are included in the composition of the council.
Finally, reconciliation cannot happen without including the voices of survivors of residential schools and other discriminatory policies and their families. This ethos was central to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's work and needed to be reflected in the composition of this council, which is why we have made an amendment to guarantee their participation.
When I was in Winnipeg earlier this month, I had the opportunity to speak with survivors, elders and many indigenous peoples at the groundbreaking of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation. Those I listened to reminded me of the importance of education for everyone in Canada about the truth of the residential school system. The council and Canada will benefit from hearing from a diversity of experiences, perspectives and voices. I truly think we have accomplished that with this bill, and I thank the House.
These amendments were put forward on the advice of opposition party members, committee members, and indigenous peoples themselves. Taken together, these amendments will ensure that the council's composition reflects regional, gender and cultural diversity.
We added key provisions about respecting, protecting and promoting indigenous languages. Our goal is to support the participation of all indigenous peoples in the council's work and the revitalization of indigenous languages.
This measure is consistent with the government's commitment to fully implement the Indigenous Languages Act in order to maintain, promote and revitalize indigenous languages in Canada. It contributes to the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Protecting and promoting the rights of indigenous people, including indigenous language rights, is part of reconciliation. It is therefore a natural extension of the council's mandate.
As I mentioned earlier, the national council for reconciliation would provide a structure for advancing reconciliation in Canada. Inclusion of measurable outcomes will support the council by demonstrating progress. To ensure the council is as effective as possible at advancing reconciliation, we have clarified its core duties and functions, allowing the council to determine measurable outcomes and monitor and report on progress toward those outcomes.
Placing this responsibility on the council reinforces its autonomy and authority to choose the best indicators for measuring progress on reconciliation. Maintaining the autonomy of the council is a top priority, and the government supports the independence of the council as a foundational principle.
To uphold the autonomy and authority of the council, we have modified the selection process for the first board of directors. To remove some of my own authority, the board of directors will be jointly selected by the members of the transitional committee and myself in my role as Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations.
This change enhances the independence of the council by strengthening the role of the indigenous-led transitional committee. It also helps ensure the selection process to determine the council's first board of directors is open and fair.
As we strengthen the roles and responsibilities of the council, we must also ensure it has access to the information it needs to carry out its work. Even with the amendments we have proposed, I recognize this bill is not perfect. I would like to highlight something that was raised during the committee's study of this bill: More engagement with indigenous communities and Canadians will be done after the council is established as they build their action plan and goals for the council.
Throughout the development of this bill, our government has ensured that members of indigenous communities and political leaders have the opportunity to express their views on the creation of the council. However, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission made it clear in its final report that reconciliation does not just involve indigenous peoples, but all Canadians.
The responsibility for educating people like me often falls on indigenous people, but that should not be the case. There is still a lot of work to be done and a lot of ignorance to be fought. Reconciliation is something that all Canadians, including all levels of government and all areas of the country, must be involved in. The work must be done not just by indigenous people or the federal government, but by all of us.
During the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs' study of the bill, Michael DeGagné, a member of the National Council of Reconciliation Transitional Committee, stated that “reconciliation is not a political process. Certainly it involves politics, but it is not solely a political process. It's a way to engage both indigenous and non-indigenous Canadians in a dialogue around going forward in a good way”.
That is what the council aims to achieve. It will open up lines of communication and connect various sectors of society. It will offer criticisms and make recommendations on ways to improve things. It will hold our government and future governments to account and ensure that the dialogue on reconciliation continues.
It has now been four years after the interim council's final report and eight years since the TRC released its final report and the 94 corresponding calls to action. Creating a national council for reconciliation is long overdue, but we are hoping it will happen now with this legislation.
View Marc Miller Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, it is incumbent on all of the board members to fight precisely what the member opposite is highlighting. There are a number of difficult choices that we have to make when the committee appoints members. We are within a structure that has been imposed on indigenous people, so there is an inherent contradiction in sitting here, appointing board members and deciding who goes on what board for what reason.
This is not a slight on any notion of economic reconciliation. In every interaction I have with indigenous peoples and communities, one of the main points of their economic reconciliation is making sure that they are dealing with someone who has paid the bills over the last 100 years, and in a lot of cases we have not. There is a basis of it that has fuelled the poverty that exists in communities today. The suspicion with which they treat the Government of Canada and anyone they interact with is well justified in hundreds of years of not paying the bills.
It starts with that premise, but it moves on into many other areas of closing the capital gap that exists between non-indigenous and indigenous investors and investments. It spans a much broader range than was normally understood as simply the purview of the economy.
View Marc Miller Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, it is precisely this type of commission that will allow us to make sure we are focused on survivors and their families.
It is not lost on anyone that the vast composition of the House is non-indigenous. We sometimes superimpose our own views of what we think is good or not good for indigenous peoples. Having a commission like that to remind us, particularly in the wake of the last year and a half of discoveries in and around unmarked graves, will be an opportunity and a catalyst to keep reminding the House of the importance of putting survivors and families first, knowing that this is trauma that has passed on from generation to generation.
There are still survivors who are speaking for the first time, courageously. There are also people who are courageously choosing not to speak out about their experiences. We need to honour them and their silence as well. This is a very difficult time still for communities and will be for some time. However, having an institution like this, which will be able to radiate across Canada, will be key in keeping survivors and their families front and centre in this ongoing national tragedy.
View Marc Miller Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I think the committee has a duty to adhere to calls to action 53 to 56. The Prime Minister will report on reconciliation every year.
Certainly, let us talk about the tragic story of residential schools. As my colleagues from the NDP and the Bloc Québécois have said, it will be very important to continue to focus on the survivors and their families, and the traumatic legacy that continues to affect indigenous communities across Canada to this day. A council will allow us to reach out nationally across the country, to raise these issues and to keep highlighting the importance of responding to calls to action 53 to 56.
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