‘Epic Fail’: Government Bungled Response to Youth Reconciliation Call to Action, Advisors Say

Lack of communication and consultation in awarding $15.2-million contract, failure to act on report cited.

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Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett: ‘Our government is ensuring that the voices of Indigenous youth from coast to coast to coast are heard and incorporated into decision-making process.’ Photo via Shutterstock.

The federal government’s response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action on Indigenous youth is “an epic fail,” says Gabrielle Fayant, a former government advisor.

Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett announced this month that Canadian Roots Exchange, a Toronto-based charity, would get $15.2 million over three years to implement Call to Action 66 on youth reconciliation.

The Call to Action urged “multi-year funding for community-based youth organizations to deliver programs on reconciliation and establish a national network to share information and best practices.”

But Fayant, one of three youth advisors appointed in 2017 to guide the government’s response to the Call for Action, said Bennett’s announcement falls short of what is needed and ignores key recommendations of their report, titled “A Roadmap to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Call to Action #66.”

The report called for the creation of an independent, community-based and Indigenous-led organization called Indigenous Youth Voices to hold the government accountable on Indigenous youth welfare in Canada.

“The money that we asked for, the $15.2 million, was specifically to start an organization to hold the government accountable,” said Andre Bear, another one of the three advisors.

Fayant agreed. “TRC [Call to Action] 66 was always about getting funds to grassroots for multi-year funding,” she said. “CRE has done a lot of great work around building relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth, but that’s not what TRC 66 is about.”

Bear said the government initially wanted them to develop plans for a national Indigenous youth advisory council.

But the youth advisors rejected that approach, because there was no assurance it would be independent, he said. Future governments could easily turn the council into “puppets,” said Bear, who is from the Little Pine First Nation in Saskatchewan.

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Gabrielle Fayant and Andre Bear, both former Special Youth Advisors to the Minster of Indigenous-Crown Relations. Photo courtesy of Gabrielle Fayant and Andre Bear.

“We advised that the ‘TRC 66’ calls for a national network to share best practices, so we said we’d build that national network instead of the youth council,” he said.

Over 2.5 years, the three advisors travelled to Indigenous communities, administered a national survey, and organized a national youth gathering to get feedback on the best ways to address the diverse needs of Indigenous youth.

The government failed to implement their proposal in the 2018 budget. MORE

 

 

Wilson-Raybould battled Bennett, other ministers over Indigenous rights framework

Privy Council Clerk Michael Wernick denied Globe and Mail report he rebuked Wilson-Raybould over speeches


Privy Council Clerk Michael Wernick said former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, right, battled Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett, left, and other ministers over an Indigenous rights framework. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

The federal government’s top bureaucrat revealed Thursday that Jody Wilson-Raybould, the former Justice minister, was locked in a fierce battle with Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett and other ministers over the direction of a promised piece of legislation central to the government’s reconciliation agenda.

Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick said a Sept. 17, 2018, meeting between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Wilson-Raybould, which has emerged as a key event in the SNC-Lavalin affair, was actually in response to cabinet tensions over the direction of the promised recognition and implementation of an Indigenous rights framework.

The framework was meant to enshrine the Constitution’s section 35, which affirms Aboriginal rights, in federal law, allowing First Nations to reconstitute their governance structures outside the Indian Act. Trudeau announced the framework during a speech in the House of Commons in February 2018.

Wernick said the prime minister met with Wilson-Raybould to discuss “very serious policy differences” between the former justice minister, Bennett and other ministers over the framework. MORE

 

Did the PMO ‘sideline’ Wilson-Raybould on failed framework negotiations? This chief believes so

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As the scandal involving the Prime Minister’s Office and former justice minister and attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould continues to grow by the day, everything that led up to it erupting last week is now getting a closer look.

That includes Wilson-Raybould’s involvement in the failed Indigenous rights framework that fell apart late last year.

Or more so, her apparent lack of involvement in what was supposed to be a game-changer for First Nations and the dismantling of the Indian Act.

“I feel the Prime Minister’s Office held (Wilson-Raybould) back on this work,” said Chief Judy Wilson of the Neskonlith Indian Band in British Columbia. “We were dealing mostly with Minister (Carolyn) Bennett who, as you know, rolled it out very terribly.” MORE

Indian Act to blame for pipeline gridlock in northern B.C.: federal minister

Canada’s Indian Act blamed for creating a gridlock in northern British Columbia where some hereditary clan chiefs say a liquefied natural gas pipeline doesn’t have their consent.

 

VANCOUVER — Canada’s minister of Crown-Indigenous relations is pointing her finger at the Indian Act for creating a gridlock in northern British Columbia where some hereditary clan chiefs say a liquefied natural gas pipeline doesn’t have their consent.

Carolyn Bennett would not say whether she believes the hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation have jurisdiction over the 22,000 square kilometres they claim as their traditional territory, saying that it is up to each community to determine its leadership structure.

But she says the situation is an example of why the federal government is working to increase First Nations capacity for self-governance, including a new funding program to rebuild hereditary structures. MORE