Speaking at the recent Global Fund replenishment conference in Montreal, Mr. Trudeau touted that "Canada will continue to lead by example, and show the world what we can accomplish when we unite in pursuit of a larger goal." However, this declaration came at a time when HIV rates have been steadily rising across the country, people with HIV being criminalized for non-disclosure and underfunding for HIV organizations.
Before Gord, Mike Downie and Pearl (Chanie Wenjack's sister) got on stage at WE Day, I knew about the conditions of the indigenous communities, but like most Canadians, we weren't taught what a residential school was and why both the truth and reconciliation is so important to not only the indigenous community.
Canadians agree that the conditions Indigenous people face economically and socially are unacceptable and long overdue for change. But to start that process would require Indigenous people to be at the table to represent their concerns themselves. Here, Canada's current voting system is a key barrier.
This group thinks Aboriginal Peoples are getting a free ride with status cards and tax exemptions (limited, and specific) and they want in on it. Do these people not realize that Aboriginal Peoples do pay taxes? If not, it is unlikely they have thought further about the history of cards and tax exemptions.
When I hear about more suicide pacts, attempts, successes, my heart breaks into pieces. I see their faces. I see them smiling, joking, wrestling with life's mysteries, reaching out to their grandparents and my heart bursts with love, pride and despair. When I see them dance, sing, drum, draw, write and speak eloquently about the world as they see it, my mind is overwhelmed by their potential. And I am struck dumb by the idea that their potential is being smothered. Willfully. With impunity.
There is a complete blind spot on indigenous human/civil rights. Every time I mention First Nation mascots, I am told to get over it, that they are honouring us. Many native people even sing the Canadian cultural tune. I am unable to turn a blind eye to it, though. I can suck it up, I just choose not to. Why should any First Nation person learn to deal with abuse to survive?
Aboriginal communities are increasingly advocating interest-based negotiations as a critical tool in processes designed to reconcile differences and achieve mutually beneficial outcomes. Seven core concepts are critical to effective interest-based negotiations including relationships, communication, interests, options, legitimacy, alternatives and commitment.
Indigenous leaders today are faced with the daunting task of balancing the socio-economic needs and priorities of their people with the finite resources passed on from government and their own source revenues. So, what is the answer to closing these socio-economic gaps and creating a more promising future?
If Ring of Fire development is to be successful, the question should not be whether the development is happening fast enough. It should be whether the process is taking place based on a foundation of recognition and respect for Webequie First Nation and the other Indigenous nations who call this land home. No longer can our Treaty be ignored and violated. New agreements cannot be reached while existing ones are treated as if they don't exist.
Do you know how many beautiful indigenous children there are, right now, living under the poverty line in Canada? Half of all status First Nations children are living in poverty and that number goes up to more than 60% in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. For Métis, non-status and Inuit children the number living in poverty is still shockingly high at 27%.
Assimilation of indigenous peoples in Canada been attempted spiritually (missionaries), culturally (the banning of ceremonies through the Indian Act), politically (the imposing of the band and council system), and economically (far too many examples to list). None have been successes. All, in the language of today, are a fail.
Given the cynicism about politics today, some people ask me why I would want to be a MP at all. You see, I wasn't anxiously waiting for a chance to get involved in federal politics. But along with other candidates, staff, volunteers and, as it turned out, a whole lot of Canadians, we agreed to begin a journey together.