Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller’s on his first 100 days
OTTAWA, ON, Feb. 7, 2022 – The Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations, Marc Miller, issued the following statement:
“My first 100 days as Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations have been quite busy and, in my own view, quite productive, despite all the work that remains.
On January 4, 2022, Canada announced that Agreements-in-Principle (AIPs) were reached with the Parties, namely, the Assembly of First Nations, the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, the Chiefs of Ontario, the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, and counsel for the plaintiffs in the Moushoom and Trout class actions. The AIPs are on a global resolution related to compensation for those harmed by discriminatory underfunding of First Nations child and family services and to achieve long-term reform of the First Nations Child and Family Services program to ensure that no child faces discrimination again. The AIPs provide a basis for final settlement agreements to be negotiated over the coming months with the Parties. Once the final settlement agreements are reached and the necessary Canadian Human Rights Tribunal and Federal Court orders are made, children and families harmed by discriminatory underfunding will be compensated, and measures will be implemented to better meet the needs of children, youth and families, and to prevent this type of discrimination from recurring. This will also support future work on a renewed approach to Jordan’s Principle.
Our relationships are strengthened when we collectively pursue the truth, as painful as it can be. Concrete actions must follow this truth and that is why we launched the Residential Schools Missing Children – Community Support Funding on June 4, 2021. Since then, we have worked closely with Indigenous communities to ensure they have access to this and other funding and resources available across government in a coordinated fashion, so they can continue the important work of uncovering the truth, and begin the healing process from the painful legacy of residential schools, consistent with the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. My department is moving quickly to process and flow funds to communities that are leading this important work. To date, 48 proposals have been approved from across the country. We will continue to process proposals rapidly to support Indigenous communities in their efforts to locate and commemorate children who attended residential schools and never returned home to their families, communities, and cultures. I have had the honour to meet with and listen to the testimony of many Survivors. To the Survivors of Residential Schools, this shouldn’t have to be said, but must: « We believe you. Canada believes you. »
To assist with this search for the truth, we are working closely with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) to ensure relevant documentation is within their collection. Since signing the January 20, 2022, Memorandum of Agreement with the NCTR, we have shared Residential School narratives not previously in their collection and are working with the NCTR on the next category of information to be shared, more than one million documents converted to a more readable format. Our joint work is occurring in an order and timeline set by the NCTR. We are also working closely with various church entities and third party archives to facilitate the sharing of their collections to the fullest extent, and work is underway to create a project team and committee focused on the departmental document review announced on December 10, 2021. We expect this work to begin within the next month. As well, and out of an abundance of caution, I have recently issued a directive to my department to retain any and all documents relating to these types of records.
Also, the creation of a National Council for Reconciliation (NCR) as a national Indigenous-led oversight body is a vital milestone to implementing the Calls to Action from the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and further demonstrates the Government of Canada’s commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. This work has begun through the creation of a Transitional Committee, which held their inaugural meeting this past December. This Indigenous-led committee has already begun to have discussions on a vision for the Council and identified key milestones, timelines, and a proposed engagement approach.
In December 2021, the Government of Canada and Inuit leaders continued to work in partnership on shared priorities at the Inuit Crown Partnership Committee meeting. These discussions included a key focus on continuing work to co-develop the Inuit Nunangat Policy while also addressing the social and economic inequities across Inuit Nunangat.
In December 2021, we announced jointly with the Department of Justice a key next step to advance work with Indigenous partners to implement the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act. We marked the launch of a consultation and engagement process with Indigenous Peoples to develop an action plan and a call for proposals for funding to support Indigenous participation in the process. This is an opportunity to work together on concrete measures to address injustices, combat prejudice and eliminate systemic racism and discrimination. We look forward to hearing from Indigenous Peoples about their priorities for action and to advancing this vital collaborative work together over the coming year.
While dialogue on the action plan is underway, we are also advancing community-driven discussions with Indigenous partners to co-develop solutions to recognize and implement Indigenous rights and support their visions of self-determination. In November, for example, I traveled to Treaty 7 First Nations in Alberta where I met with Chiefs from Bearspaw, Chiniki and Wesley First Nations to discuss our Treaty obligations. This was also an opportunity to meet with the leadership of Tsuut’ina Nation, and fulfil a longstanding commitment to visit Siksika Nation. In December 2021, I signed a Memorandum of Agreement to Advance Reconciliation with the Summit of Treaty Five Sovereign Nations (whose membership consists of Treaty 5 Nations from Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario). This Memorandum of Agreement will set the stage for discussions on Treaty implementation, economic self-sufficiency, self-government and other priorities.
We look forward to continuing to work in a spirit of collaboration with all of our partners in the spirit of self-determination, by renewing Treaty relationships where they exist, including pre-confederation Treaties, and by building viable, trusting, and respectful relationships as we enter and implement modern Treaties and self-government agreements.
We have made progress in these first 100 days, and we recognize there is more work to accomplish. Reconciliation is not free, and it does not come easily – however – we remain committed to making further progress, addressing the past wrongs and Canada’s historical failures towards Indigenous Peoples, as well as addressing the current impacts still felt today.”