10/07/2016 07:19 EDT | Updated 10/07/2016 07:19 EDT

Quebec Native Affairs Minister Geoffrey Kelley Rebuked For Using Term 'Indian Time'

Geoffrey Kelley mused about the fact a new bill recognizing indigenous customs related to adopting children took eight years to complete.

QUEBEC — A joke by Quebec's native affairs minister stereotyping indigenous peoples' concept of time did not go down well with at least one Cree official Thursday.

Speaking at a news conference announcing a new bill recognizing indigenous customs related to adopting children, Geoffrey Kelley mused about the fact it took eight years to complete.

"We have finally introduced this bill,'' he told reporters. "In certain circles, some make comments on the notion of 'Indian time', but 'government time' is at times also something that leaves much to be desired.''

A few minutes after the joke, Cree health spokeswoman Bella Moses Petawabano corrected Kelley.

Geoffrey Kelley said his reference to "Indian time" was a joke. (Photo: CP)

"I just want to say a few words about Indian time,'' she told the news conference. "That the true meaning of Indian time is really getting things done before the expected time. That is a true meaning and I don't know who changed it along the way."

A reporter pounced on Kelley's comments and asked whether he had been clumsy to use such a term at a news conference.

"No, no, it was a joke,'' he replied. "But honestly, I want to say it takes time, because these are complex questions."

The new legislation, known as Bill 113, amends Quebec's Civil Code and Youth Protection Act with regard to the adoption process in Quebec.

It includes official recognition — when it's in the interest of the child — of the rights and obligations between an adopted aboriginal child and his or her parent of origin.

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