‘I’m sure many of the Indigenous people are pondering questions about which party they’re going to vote for come election time,’ says Dehcho First Nations Grand Chief Gladys Norwegian.
Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami President Natan Obed, left, Mohawk activist Ellen Gabriel, Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde, and Daughters of the Vote delegate Georgina Johnston. The Hill Times photographs by Andrew Meade and courtesy of Facebook
Indigenous leaders from across Canada say their trust in the Liberal government’s promise of a renewed relationship with Indigenous peoples has been broken and they’re looking for concrete action, soon, or it could mean punishment at the polls in October.
“The prime minister may have meant what he said, and I don’t doubt that he did, but the actions that he has demonstrated throughout his time as prime minister contradict that,” said Ellen Gabriel, an activist and member of the Kanesatake Mohawk First Nation.
“Reconciliation has not happened, the status quo continues,” she said in a phone interview last week.
“Everybody had high hopes that this would be a government that would be a little different than previous governments, whether it was Liberal or Conservative. And, in some respect, it has been, but what really they’ve done is spin-doctor and repackage colonial laws and policies differently. It’s the same beast, it just looks a little bit more glossy,” Ms. Gabriel said.
During the 2015 campaign, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Papineau, Que.) promised to restore and renew the federal government’s relationship with Indigenous peoples and bring about a true nation-to-nation relationship. Since then, the prime minister has repeatedly stated that reconciliation is core to his government’s mandate and legacy.
The launch of a national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women was among the commitments made to Indigenous peoples in the 2015 Liberal platform; that inquiry launched in September 2016 and will deliver its final report by the end of the month. The Liberals also committed to enact the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 calls to action, “starting with the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”
To date, 10 calls to action are deemed completed, based on the CBC’s Beyond 94 tracker, while 55 are in progress (underway or proposed), and 29 have not been started on.
Chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues Mariam Wallet Med Aboubakrine, left, prominent Inuk human rights advocate Rosemarie Kuptana, Amnesty International Canada Secretary General Alex Neve, and Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde speak at a press conference in the National Press Theatre to urge the Senate to pass Bill C-262, the UN Declaration implementation bill, on April 1, 2019. The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade
The call to adopt and implement the UNDRIP is among those deemed in progress with projects proposed; that proposal is in the form of a private member’s bill from NDP MP Romeo Saganash (Abitibi-Baie-James-Nunavik-Eeyou, Que.), Bill C-262, which currently sits at second reading in the Senate. MORE