(February 15, 2018)
TORONTO- In the wake of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announcing an overhaul of the way the federal government relates to Indigenous Peoples in Canada including new legislation paving the way to stronger rights and greater control Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day says questions are being left unanswered.
“Yesterday’s announcement by the government of Canada, in its commitment to establish a new “recognition and implementation of Indigenous rights framework”, leaves many open questions. First Nations and Canada must now engage on a significant and broad range of Section 35 rights within a limited mandate and timeframe.”
He said the “national engagement proposed is an enormous undertaking and the government must fully engage and work directly with the rights holders on this new framework.”
He says “this announcement is key to the start of the Nation to Nation process that was promised by Prime Minister Trudeau since 2015. The world is watching Canada to see if reconciliation will be in line with the full implementation of the 94 Calls to Action in the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions final report released in June 2015. I am mindful, that even with the recognition and implementation of our rights in a new legal framework, it must not be the end game. We need our rights to be formally recognized and respected throughout all pertinent federal law and policy, as well as implemented at the nation to nation level.”
Ontario Regional Chief Day said “We acknowledge the overture by the Prime Minister that this framework will ensure the full and meaningful implementation of treaties, and we look forward to that conversation. As these discussions begin, we strongly encourage our treaty partners to jointly develop processes recognizing all facets of capacity needs for First Nations to be equitably involved. As we move forward, we cannot continue with the federal government making overtures of full involvement and partnership only to have those words fall flat. There can be no more half-measures. We can only advance our nations if the principles and outcomes of equalization, justice, security, and self determination are visible and enshrined in law – this is what we must see in this new approach. We hold out hope that the words spoken yesterday, are more than another empty statement. We must demand this as it is vital to securing a better future for our children.” said Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day
The prime minister said the new approach, to be developed in partnership with First Nations, Metis and Inuit, is needed to tackle the many challenges
facing their communities, including overcrowded housing, unsafe drinking water and high rates of suicide among Indigenous youth.
“All of these things demand real, positive action, action that must include the full recognition and implementation of Indigenous rights,” Trudeau said.
“We need to get to a place where Indigenous Peoples in Canada are in control of their own destiny, making their own decisions about the future.”
The new Recognition and Implementation of Indigenous Rights Framework will be unveiled later this year following consultations led by Carolyn Bennett, the
minister for Crown-Indigenous relations, and Justice Minister Jody Wilson- Raybould, will include new legislation. Trudeau said the Liberals intend to implement it in time for the 2019 election.