There are several bills before the Senate that can make a significant impact in Canada’s path to reconciliation with Indigenous people. They are:
• Bill C-262, An Act to ensure that the laws of Canada are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
• Bill C-91, An Act respecting Indigenous languages
• Bill C-92, An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families
I urge you to support each of these bills for adoption and royal assent as soon as possible. When it comes to matters of reconciliation, there is simply no time to waste and no excuse for delay.
The Government of Canada has a shameful record in addressing the rights of Indigenous people. This was explicitly recognized in the apology offered by then Prime Minister Stephen Harper on June 11, 2008 for the abuse and loss of culture resulting from residential schools. Indeed, reconciliation is truly a non-partisan issue.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) undertook the most comprehensive Indigenous-led investigation into what actions should be taken to inspire reconciliation. The bills listed above are consistent with the recommendations of the TRC, which underscores the need for the Senate to pass this legislation.
All Canadians benefit when Indigenous people thrive, which is exactly what these bills are designed to do. In the words of the Assembly of First Nations, Bill 262 “will provide certainty to business and industry, reduce conflict over large infrastructure projects and minimize court challenges.” Bills 91 and 92 are complementary to this effort and will help revitalize many Indigenous cultures.
I hope you can champion these bills and make a positive contribution towards truth and reconciliation for the Indigenous peoples of Canada.