Statement by Ministers Bennett, Vandal and Miller on World’s Indigenous Peoples Day

OTTAWA, ON, Aug. 9, 2021 /CNW/ – Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations; Daniel Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs; and Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services, issued the following statement to commemorate  World Indigenous Peoples Day:

“Today, on  World Indigenous Peoples Day, we celebrate the cultures, languages, traditions and contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis in Canada, and Indigenous Peoples around the world. We also reinforce our commitment to affirm Indigenous rights and ensure Indigenous rights are respected.

The theme of this year’s  World Indigenous Peoples Day is “Leaving no one behind: Indigenous Peoples and the call for a new social contract.” This year, we are asked to examine one simple premise: the inclusion of Indigenous Peoples everywhere in the creation of a system that contains social, economic and environmental benefit for all.

In Canada, we are working with Indigenous partners to address the devastating legacy of colonial practices, policies and systemic racism, the effects of which are still felt today. Residential schools are a shameful part of racist and colonial policies that promoted the removal of Indigenous children from their communities, their families, and the destruction of languages and cultures. Every Indigenous person and family in Canada have been affected by residential schools, and we accept our responsibility to support the process of healing which is  Indigenous led and culturally respectful and recognizes the intergenerational trauma ..

It is the responsibility of the Government of Canada to make transformative change within our federal institutions collaboratively with Indigenous Peoples. We continue to review our laws and policies in partnership with Indigenous Peoples as we work to improve health, education and economic  outcomes for Indigenous Peoples

On June 21, 2021, Canada was one of the first countries in the world to pass legislation to advance the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This is a historic step toward fully recognizing, respecting, and protecting the human rights of Indigenous Peoples. We are now working with Indigenous partners on an Action Plan that will be effective in the implementation of the Declaration in Canada. The Action Plan will provide  an important framework for reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples to advance social and economic equality, promote economic participation, and protect Indigenous governance and laws, lands and territories, and cultures and languages.

We are proud that Canada has passed the Indigenous Languages Act, An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Metis children, youth and families, changed the Oath of Citizenship to acknowledge Indigenous and Treaty rights, and legislated  September 30 as the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation.  The Impact Assessment Act provides for better recognition of the right to self-determination through early and inclusive engagement with Indigenous Peoples and through greater transparency of how Indigenous knowledge is taken into account in the decision-making process.

Recognizing and respecting Indigenous rights means that Indigenous Peoples are at the table for decisions that impact their rights. We must recognize that participation in economic development is a reflection of self-determination that holds tremendous opportunity to improve the well-being of Indigenous communities. Over time, this participation will help create stronger and healthier communities, and contribute to jobs and economic growth both within Canada and around the world. A stronger economy for all means that we close socio-economic gaps that exist between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, gaps that are a result of antiquated colonial policies, social inequities and systemic discrimination.

This work will complement other important initiatives already underway, including legislative commitments around health and policing legislation, and the development of an Indigenous Justice Strategy. Budget 2021 announced historic investments to improve the quality of life and create new opportunities for people living in Indigenous communities, including meaningful action on the new approach that was launched with Indigenous partners to end the national tragedy of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, one which addresses the root causes and the scope of the violence.

These investments support recent launch of the Federal Pathway, the government’s contribution to the 2021 Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People National Action Plan: Ending Violence Against Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People.

We are working to right the wrongs of the past in tandem with  accelerating the implementation of  rights in partnership with Indigenous Peoples,  on the path to self-determination.  Indigenous groups now design their agreements  with Canada based on their community priorities. We are engaged in discussions with Indigenous partners at over 170 discussion tables across the country to explore new ways of working together to advance the recognition of Indigenous rights and self-determination. These discussions involve more than 500 Indigenous communities, with a total population of nearly one million people. Changing the relationship from paternalism to a true partnership based upon the recognition of Indigenous and Treaty rights, respect and cooperation continues to a priority of the Prime Minister and the Government of Canada.

We have very rich lessons to learn by respecting and welcoming Indigenous ways of knowing into the wider culture and society, including Indigenous relationships to the land. Listening and learning from Indigenous world views is  essential as we face the immense environmental challenges as a result of climate change, and as we work towards a more inclusive society. As Canada moves forward on a renewed relationship with Indigenous Peoples based on the affirmation of rights, respect, cooperation and partnership  we know that it is imperative that all Canadians feel part of the journey of reconciliation as together  we build a better more inclusive future for all.”

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