North Island-Powell River candidates comment on reconciliation with first nations

Candidates running for election in the North Island-Powell River riding provided the Peak with statements on the subject of reconciliation with First Nations, after time constraints at last week’s all-candidates meeting prevented the issue from being discussed in detail.

Although the topic of reconciliation was raised during the open-mic section of the town hall-style meeting, several candidates told the audience they wished they could spend longer discussing their parties’ approaches to the issue.

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For this week’s final Peak Q&A prior to federal election day on Monday, October 21, candidates were asked to submit a maximum 200-word response outlining measures they or their party would take in working toward meaningful reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

Responses are listed in alphabetical order, based on the last names.

Rachel Blaney, NDP

During my time in parliament, I spent almost two years as the vice chair in the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Committee. Building a path to reconciliation is both complex and simple at the same time. Step one would be acknowledging rights and title.

How this is addressed is implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This would result in Indigenous communities having a leadership role, like every other community in Canada, for any project in their traditional territory. This would also seriously address the continued economic marginalization of Indigenous communities across the country.

Second, implement all of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal orders in the proven case that Indigenous children are being discriminated against in Canada. This is an issue of fairness for children and should be done. All children deserve a childhood; the NDP will fully implement the Spirit Bear Plan.

Clean drinking water will be another priority of an NDP government. Grassy Narrows, whose only water source has had mercury poisoning for decades, would not longer be ignored. Reconciliation is all of us working together to acknowledge the past, the present and move positively into the future.

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Mark de Bruijn, Green Party

Greens believe that Canada cannot reach its full potential as a nation until the socioeconomic gap between indigenous peoples and the rest of Canada is closed.

To achieve this Greens will work under the lead of Indigenous communities to: create an Indigenous Lands and Treaties Tribunal Act, ensuring negotiations are conducted and financed fairly; ensure sustainable hunting, fishing and trapping rights on traditional lands; repudiate all doctrines of superiority; grounded in the doctrine of free, prior and informed consent, transition nations off the Indian Act; enshrine in law the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; implement all recommendations of the 1996 Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, the calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls; include First Nations on a Council of Canadian Governments; remove the two per cent funding cap for post-secondary education; honour the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling to compensate every child taken from their home on reserve; incorporating traditional wisdoms, ensure the standard of living afforded all Canadians, including quality education, drinking water, housing, food security, mental and maternal health and infant care.

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Shelley Downey, Conservative Party

 

Reconciliation begins with relationship and respect. The Conservative Party supports the reconciliation process with Indigenous peoples. We are focused on bringing forward policies that make real and measurable improvements in the lives of Canada’s Indigenous peoples.

Conservatives support effective investments in important areas, such as access to housing, health services and good quality drinking water. It is critical that government spending translates into meaningful results on the ground.

The Trudeau Liberals have failed to create sustainable, economic opportunities for Indigenous peoples. As well, they have created endless barriers to the economic development for Indigenous communities, including the cancelling of the Northern Gateway pipeline, the five-year moratorium on off-shore oil and gas extraction in the Arctic, and the imposed carbon tax.

There can be no true and lasting reconciliation without economic reconciliation. The government must act to empower Indigenous communities to share in the wealth that Canada is so capable of creating. It is time we work together to create a positive future for Indigenous youth, including increasing economic and educational opportunities.

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Carla Neal, Marxist-Leninist Party

Indigenous peoples in Canada are defending their rights against energy monopolies, mining companies and governments and police forces in their service. This battle puts the urgent need for nation-to-nation relations on a modern basis between Canada and the Indigenous peoples front and centre in this election. Establishing nation-to-nation relations will open the door to end the crimes being committed against Indigenous peoples by Canada and for reconciliation between Canada and the Indigenous peoples.

The Indigenous peoples have the right to a say over all the affairs of Canada due to the historical and present debt of colonialism and Canada's presence on all their ancestral lands. We stand with the Wet’suwet’en land defenders against Coastal GasLink and the state violence against them. We stand with the First Nations challenging Site C and all those who are defending the land and their rights against the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion, projects which are being pushed through without their consent.

We stand for an end to colonial injustice and a new constitution which enshrines a free and equal union between Indigenous nations, Canada and Quebec, a constitution that defends the rights of all.

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Brian Rundle, People’s Party

We want to replace the Indian Act with an agreement that would make the First Nations leadership responsible for their own solutions to the issues they have. 

We recognize the special relationship and history of Canada with the First Nations community and want to have a relationship that is more empowering for them to address and solve their issues.

We want First Nations to be treated as equal citizens in Canada and participate in our economy and culture while helping to build this country.

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Peter Schwarzhoff, Liberal Party

The Liberal government is committed to a renewed relationship with Indigenous peoples based on recognition of rights, respect, cooperation and partnership.

We are committed to implementing the calls to action from the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and building a true nation-to-nation relationship.

We’ve provided new resources to child and family service agencies, while also increasing prevention resources for communities, so that children are safe and families can stay together. We have begun to redress the harm caused by the Sixties Scoop.

We have begun to take action on the report on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

85 boil-water communities have been restored to clean water; the last 57 will be finished by 2021. We have made transformative investments in education and health applying Jordan’s Principle to close the gap.

Although we have only taken the first steps toward reconciliation, Pelly Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, has said: “Under this Liberal government, I can say they’ve done more for First Nations people than any government has for the past 50 years.”

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Glen Staples, Independent 

I have been fortunate to live and learn in three different first nations communities.

In Canada the treatment of Indigenous people was especially inexcusable after the Indian Act in 1876 set up an apartheid system, which later inspired South Africa and Israel to do similar systems. Having rights dependent on race is always a bad idea whether it tips one way or the other. The table tipped the opposite way after 1960 so aboriginals now have equal rights plus. 

But the incorrect belief that aboriginals are inferior still exists largely subconsciously. Racists use it to explain high rates of alcohol abuse or incarceration. The subconscious form is more common in people who demand extra help for aboriginals. Beneath the pity is racist belief. An aboriginal man applied for and was offered a job. When the interviewer told him he got the job because he was aboriginal, he was so insulted, he walked out. Pity can be harsher than hate for one who wants respect.

We can’t send all the European descendants back to Europe. We have to do serious truth and reconciliation to the point where we can form a new Canada with only one kind of citizen.

Copyright © Powell River Peak

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