IssuesIndigenous Affairs

Indigenous Affairs

First Published: Sep 13, 2019
Last Updated: Sep 13, 2019
Monitored by: Hugues Théorêt

Background

The Government of Canada is committed to achieving reconciliation with Indigenous peoples through a renewed, nation-to-nation, government-to-government, and Inuit-Crown relationship based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership as the foundation for transformative change.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) was officially launched in 2008 as part of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (IRSSA). Intended to be a process that would guide Canadians through the difficult discovery of the facts behind the residential school system, the TRC was also meant to lay the foundation for lasting reconciliation across Canada.

Between 2007 and 2015, the Government of Canada provided about $72 million to support the TRC's work. The TRC spent 6 years travelling to all parts of Canada and heard from more than 6,500 witnesses. The TRC also hosted 7 national events across Canada to engage the Canadian public, educate people about the history and legacy of the residential schools system, and share and honour the experiences of former students and their families.

The Government of Canada also recognizes that true reconciliation goes beyond the scope of the commission's recommendations. The Prime Minister announced that Canada will work with leaders of First Nations, the Métis Nation, Inuit, provinces and territories, parties to the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement, and other key partners, to design a national engagement strategy for developing and implementing a national reconciliation framework, informed by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's recommendations.

Current Status

The first stage of the journey of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada is now complete. As of December 18 2015, the TRC offices are now closed, but the journey of Truth and Reconciliation is far from over. The work of the TRC has now been transferred to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.

The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls released its final report on June 3 and an advocate recommended families and survivors not to watch it alone. The report concludes that the violence they endure is a "planned genocide". The voluminous 1,100-page report is very critical and harsh on the part of the federal government, which has failed to protect indigenous women and girls in this country.

Liberal

The Trudeau government plans to invest $ 4.6 billion over the next five years to continue the process of reconciliation with Aboriginal peoples.

The spending plan includes $126.5 million in 2020-21 to establish a national council on reconciliation designed to be a permanent reminder of the fraught past between Canada and Indigenous Peoples and to contribute to a better understanding of it.

There is also $333.7 million over the next five years earmarked for helping to revitalize Indigenous languages — a move that follows legislation introduced in February. The funding will help create a commissioner of Indigenous languages.

The budget also includes plans to invest $220 million over five years, beginning in 2019-2020, to provide services to Inuit children who face unique challenges to access health and social services due to the remoteness of their communities and limited availability of culturally appropriate care.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has repeatedly said there is no relationship more important than the Canadian government's with Indigenous Peoples, though some Indigenous leaders and the federal NDP have raised concerns about the rate of progress.

Conservatives

It was former prime minister Stephen Harper who delivered the apology for the Indian residential schools system and established the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to examine its legacy of abuse.

Concerning MP Georgina Jolibois’ Bill C-369, to make the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation a statutory holiday, Kamloops MP Cathy McLeod, also the critic for Indigenous affairs, says a new Indigenous stat holiday would have financial repercussions.

NDP

New Democrats will work with Indigenous peoples to co-develop a National Action Plan for Reconciliation, drawing directly from the Calls to Action and the Declaration to ensure that Canada’s laws, policies, and practices are consistent with Canada’s human rights commitments – including cultural rights, land rights, and rights to self-determination and self-government.

Through legislation, the NDP will establish a National Council for Reconciliation to provide oversight and accountability for this process, reporting regularly to Parliament and Canadians.

Green Party

In partnership with Aboriginal Peoples, the Green Party will work towards the creation of an Aboriginal Lands and Treaties Tribunal Act to establish an independent body to decide on specific claims, ensure that treaty negotiations are conducted and financed fairly, and ensure that treaty negotiations and claims resolutions do not result in the extinguishment of Aboriginal and treaty rights.

People's Party

No specific proposals yet.

Bloc Quebecois

The BQ is supporting the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. The party is also a strong supporter of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

September 13, 2019
Roberto Chavez

Team Trudeau has been making substantial face-time for Nunavut in the lead up to the federal election, an analysis of ministerial travel shows — with the Prime Minister, seven different ministers and one parliamentary secretary flying north since the beginning of July.

Their visits translate to a marked increase in the Liberals’ in-person presence in the territory. Where six unique federal representatives, including Trudeau, visited Nunavut in the six-month period between January and June, nine including the Prime Minister have attended 19 events in the two months of July and August — including a community feast, an apology to the Inuit of Baffin Island and a daycare ribbon-cutting.

Mostly, representatives of the federal government have travelled north in recent months to make announcements — from $200,000 in funding for the ilinniapaa Skills Development Centre to a $71.7 million pledge for transportation projects.

Prime Minister Trudeau visited in early August, marking his second trip to Nunavut this year after travelling north in March. Ministers Seamus O’Regan (Indigenous Services), Carolyn Bennett (Crown-Indigenous Relations), Bernadette Jordan (Rural Economic Development), Marc Garneau (Transport), Jonathan Wilkinson (Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard), Catherine McKenna (Environment and Climate Change) and David Lametti (Justice) also each made their way northward to attend events between July 8 and Aug. 19.

August 28, 2019
Roberto Chavez

First Nations elder criticizes Trudeau government during funding announcement.  What was supposed to be a routine press conference turned into a political kerfuffle as an Ontario First Nations Ojibway elder Garry Sault criticized the Canadian government over an apparent lack of consultation regarding the future home of an education and welcome centre at the Rouge National Urban Park in Scarborough.

“When it comes time to have the negotiations here, they should have their elders. Our people don’t even know what you’re doing here,” Sault told reporters Tuesday morning. “They haven’t informed us. And that makes me angry inside of my heart.”

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