An Act to amend the Bills of Exchange Act, the Interpretation Act and the Canada Labour Code (National Indigenous People Day)

Sponsor

Georgina Jolibois  NDP

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)

Status

Second reading (House), as of March 20, 2018

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-369.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends certain Acts to make National Indigenous Peoples Day a holiday.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Bills of Exchange ActPrivate Members' Business

March 20th, 2018 / 6:40 p.m.
See context

NDP

Georgina Jolibois NDP Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

moved that Bill C-369, An Act to amend the Bills of Exchange Act, the Interpretation Act and the Canada Labour Code (National Indigenous Peoples Day), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise today in the House of Commons to present the first hour of debate on my private member's bill, Bill C-369. In short, my bill seeks to make National Indigenous Peoples Day a national statutory holiday.

My bill proposes that June 21 be designated a day to honour and recognize the unique culture and views of first nations, Inuit, and Métis status and non-status peoples and the contributions they have made to our collective society.

As a first nations woman and the member of Parliament for Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, I stand in determination not only for the communities in my riding but in solidarity with the first nations, Inuit, and Métis from coast to coast to coast. I also stand with those indigenous youth who are no longer with us.

It is important for this House to recognize that my bill was originally meant to be presented on February 14, but it was pushed back because of the take-note debate on the indigenous experience in Canada's justice system.

The lives and memories of indigenous peoples affect us all, in both profound and simple ways. I would encourage all members to take a moment to reflect on these influences today.

One aim of my bill is to bring a sense of hope to indigenous communities across Canada by creating a day that recognizes their lives, their culture, and their influence. My bill responds to one of the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The commission said:

We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, to establish, as a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to honour Survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.

It does not get any clearer than that. If we, as partners in reconciliation, want to take the process of reconciliation seriously, it is crucial that the members of this House support my bill. My bill would create a public opportunity to better engage and understand the impacts of critical issues affecting indigenous peoples and settler society. Among these issues are the long-lasting impacts of residential schools, the 60s scoop, child foster care issues, our treaty relationships, and missing and murdered indigenous women.

These are not issues that exist in the past. First nations, Métis, and northern children and youth are hurting. Their families and communities are struggling to secure employment and make ends meet. Families do not have access to services and they become trapped in the cycle of poverty and foster care.

In Saskatchewan alone, 87% of children in foster care are indigenous. We must ask ourselves what our children see. Do indigenous children and youth, girls in particular, see a country that, in both word and deed, champions their intrinsic importance? Do the different levels of government and those in different positions of authority, communicate that their lives are valued?

Let us reflect on these questions as we consider the overrepresentation of indigenous children in foster care, the high rates of missing and murdered Indigenous women, and the overrepresentation of first nation, Inuit, and Métis in corrections facilities and prisons.

More than two years ago, the ruling of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal was clear. The Canadian government was guilty of racially discriminating against tens of thousands of first nation children in systematically underfunding federal services. The tribunal's ruling called on the federal government for immediate, medium-, and long-term reforms so that children can receive the treatment they deserve. Children are entitled to feel safe, to be cared for, and to feel and be valued, and they deserve the same opportunities as everyone else.

Now that we see the budget for 2018, we acknowledge the commitment of the government to help indigenous people in Canada. However, funding is only one aspect of the reconciliation project. Canadians also need encouragement towards understanding indigenous history, identity, and nationhood, in tandem with Canadian history.

In order to strengthen the public's awareness and increase support of the nation-to-nation process that is vital to reconciliation, my bill provides an opportunity for all people living in Canada to celebrate, recognize, and honour first nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples' diverse historical, cultural, and linguistic contributions.

Passing Bill C-369 allows for a national opportunity, not only to reflect on our history but also to celebrate indigenous culture. My bill would create time for all Canadians to reflect on our treaty relationships and other agreements with indigenous nations. It creates a platform for us all to gather and involve ourselves in the conversation that leads to a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities within indigenous communities. Only when we work together can we make progress toward reconciliation. After all, we are stronger when we are together.

My bill is not the first time that National Aboriginal Day has been brought up in the House. National Aboriginal Day was the result of consultations and statements of support made by indigenous groups across the country. In 1982, the National Indian Brotherhood, now known as the Assembly of First Nations, launched a campaign to have National Aboriginal Day recognized as a national holiday. In 1986, June 21 was proclaimed National Aboriginal Day by then Governor General of Canada Roméo LeBlanc.

Those who are paying attention will note that June 21 is also the summer solstice, which holds a special significance to many indigenous peoples in Canada. Now known as National Indigenous Peoples Day, June 21 is recognized as a statutory holiday in the Northwest Territories, and last May it was declared a statutory holiday in Yukon. A similar bill was tabled in the Ontario legislature in September 2017, which was titled “Indigenous Day Act: A Path to Truth and Reconciliation”. My bill is not unprecedented, and its principles have had success in Canada in the past.

The Assembly of First Nations has been pushing for National Indigenous Peoples Day to be recognized federally for years. In fact, in 2016, the AFN passed a resolution at its annual general assembly calling for June 21 to be a statutory holiday.

Chief Bobby Cameron of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations has supported my motion. The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples supported Bill C-369 when it was tabled under its original name. National Chief Robert Bertrand was present at the press conference to voice his support publicly. UFCW Canada has endorsed this bill, and reports that in six collective agreements in four different provinces, National Indigenous Peoples Day is recognized as a paid holiday. The Ontario Public Service Employees Union has endorsed the call for National Indigenous Peoples Day to become a statutory holiday. The Vancouver Aboriginal Child & Family Services Society has expressed the need to make National Indigenous Peoples Day a statutory holiday. We have received numerous letters and calls from Canadians, indigenous and non-indigenous, who are in favour of making June 21 a statutory holiday.

Despite the historical precedent and significant support, I want to speak to some of the criticism I have received about my bill. It is no surprise to members of this House that the nature of our jobs brings criticism from those people who do not believe we are doing our jobs well enough. However, a lot of what I have heard with regard to this bill has been unprofessional, illogical, uncalled for and, plainly put, racist. Being a first nations woman from northern Saskatchewan, I have heard this type of language before, and I will hear it again in the future. Too many indigenous peoples live with this language on a daily basis, and I firmly believe that taking steps toward reconciliation will alleviate at least some of the pain caused by this language.

My bill has also been discussed publicly at the same time as the verdicts in the cases related to Colten Boushie and Tina Fontaine. While much of the public conversation about Colten and Tina has been filled with love and calls for justice, too much of it has been about hate, misconceptions, biases, and individuals saying that the system worked. This is the language that a settler society uses to continue its oppression of indigenous peoples.

Individuals will always be free to speak their minds, but if the government is committed to changing the conversation with and about indigenous peoples in this country, we need to take steps that will change the spaces in which those conversations take place. My bill is one such step. We as a government cannot change the hearts and minds of Canadians or limit their expression, but what we can do together is change the environment where the process of reconciliation is taking place.

As I have already said, my bill creates a day of reflection and celebration of indigenous history and contributions to our collective society. It takes the extra step of allowing most Canadians a day off work to join our indigenous friends and neighbours in celebrating their cultures and remembering their history. My bill is a necessary step toward changing the public conversation about indigenous people in this country. It is on us as members of this House to make time to do those things.

We all know it is not unprecedented for this House to make time for everyone in Canada to celebrate together. Every year, Canadians gather on July 1 to celebrate the history of our nation, and most people are given the day off to celebrate with their neighbours. Every year, Canadians are given the day off work to celebrate Christmas or to take the day to spend time with their families and celebrate their own religious holidays. We also recognize new beginnings and give Canadians January 1 to think about the new year ahead of them. These days, among others, are days of national celebration.

Further, this House recognizes days of reflection and mourning as part of our national experience. November 11 is our day of remembrance, a day to understand and appreciate those who have served Canada in war, armed conflict, and peace. We also use Labour Day to remember the workers who have suffered in dangerous conditions and enshrined workers' rights as human rights.

In both of these respects, celebration and reflection, my bill fits with the historical precedent of statutory holidays in Canada. Let us not be bogged down by the conversations I have both listened to and been a part of that another statutory holiday is unnecessary and goes too far. Canada is a complex country full of complex peoples and complex ideas. In many ways, we have too much to celebrate and too much to remember, but that should not take away from our national project of reconciliation.

It feels as though the time will never be right for a bill that asks for special recognition of indigenous culture and history, but the government has continuously stated that the most important relationship is the one with indigenous peoples. That same government has committed to answer the calls of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the spirit of healing and truth. It begs the question, when is the right time?

If the burden of reconciliation is too difficult for us to take on as a country, then we must seriously consider our roles as elected leaders in Canada. If reconciliation is too hard for our government to support in full, then we must seriously reconsider our government. Reconciliation was not meant to be a label or a chapter title for a settler government to adopt as a symbol of progress. Reconciliation is not a feel good promise of better days ahead for a colonial society. Reconciliation is not seeing the indigenization of our institutions for the betterment of those who are already in power. First nations, Inuit, and Métis people are tired of waiting for the right time to come along. Indigenous people cannot wait for the next election year to get another empty promise from the government.

I ask that as elected officials we go beyond talking points and formally make June 21, National Indigenous Peoples Day, a statutory holiday. This would create an opportunity to share, to celebrate, and to open up a dialogue for all people living in Canada to better understand and empathize with first nations, Inuit, and Métis people. I encourage hon. members on all sides to consider this bill to begin building the bridges of understanding between Canada and the first nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples.

Bills of Exchange ActPrivate Members' Business

March 20th, 2018 / 7 p.m.
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Charlottetown P.E.I.

Liberal

Sean Casey LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-369, an act to amend the Bills of Exchange Act, the Interpretation Act and the Canada Labour Code (National Indigenous People Day), introduced by the member for Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River.

The bill proposes to amend the Bills of Exchange Act, the Interpretation Act and the Canada Labour Code to modify the definition of holidays within each of these acts to include National Indigenous Peoples Day as part of these definitions. As a result, it would establish National Indigenous Peoples Day as a paid non-working holiday for approximately 904,000 employees working in the federally regulated private sector. This represents about 6% of Canada's workforce.

National Indigenous Peoples Day has been celebrated across Canada for 21 years. In 1996, the Government of Canada, in co-operation with national indigenous organizations, designated June 21, the summer solstice, as a day to recognize indigenous peoples in Canada. This day was designated National Aboriginal Day by way of a proclamation signed by the Right Hon. Roméo LeBlanc, the then Governor General of Canada, on the advice of the Queen's Privy Council. In 2017, the Prime Minister announced that the government intended to rename June 21 National Indigenous Peoples Day.

This day aims to highlight the unique and significant heritage, cultures, and contributions of first nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples. Celebrating National Indigenous Peoples Day fosters greater knowledge and understanding of our history and of the traditions and customs that played a key role in shaping the country we know today as Canada. It provides the perfect opportunity to learn about the people, places, and events that are a part of the history of our land and it permits us to realize the importance that diversity plays in our great country.

National Indigenous Peoples Day is one of the four celebrate Canada days. This suite of special days starts on June 21 with National Indigenous Peoples Day and includes Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day on June 24, Canadian Multiculturalism Day on June 27, and Canada Day on July 1. The celebrate Canada days put a spotlight on Canada's diverse cultures. They help us honour the heritage and backgrounds of those who came before us and those who continue to strive for a Canada that is reflective of all its citizens, a Canada that is truly inclusive.

Celebrations in 2017 were an opportunity for a greater number of Canadians to participate in activities in all parts of the country. Indeed, as we marked the 150th anniversary of Confederation, more Canadians than ever took part in community events and celebrations on National Indigenous Peoples Day.

Through its celebrate Canada program, the Government of Canada made such investments so as to provide funding for over 1,700 community celebrations in 2017. Events were held in each province and territory. Additionally, high impact events marking the day were held in eight cities across Canada and were broadcast through a partnership with the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network and through social media. An unprecedented 1.2 million Canadians had the chance to take in these celebrations.

Every year, there is a wide range of activities on offer, including ceremonies, cultural displays, and stage performances. These activities highlight the traditions and contemporary vision of indigenous peoples. They give children and families a chance to taste foods, listen to stories, and marvel at the art and artistry of the descendants of the first inhabitants of this land.

From traditional smudging ceremonies to concerts, National Indigenous Peoples Day showcases a broad spectrum of indigenous culture and proves that it is alive and important.

The legacy of residential schools is a stain on our past and we must seize every chance we get to rebuild relationships between indigenous communities and the rest of Canada. As the Prime Minister has stated, no relationship is more important to Canada than the relationship with indigenous peoples.

In 2015, the truth and reconciliation commission presented a report that included 94 calls to action to redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the process of reconciliation. The Government of Canada committed to implementing these recommendations, including call to action 80 that urges the federal government, in collaboration with aboriginal peoples, to establish, as a statutory holiday, a national day for truth and reconciliation to honour survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure the public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.

To that end, the hon. member for Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River has introduced a bill to make National Indigenous Peoples Day a paid statutory holiday for some of Canada's workforce, namely federally regulated private-sector employees.

Under the Canadian constitutional framework, this is the first step in establishing a new statutory holiday. It is important to note that in order for us to designate this day as a paid holiday for all Canadians, federal public service collective agreements have to be amended, and the provinces and territories have to amend their respective laws if they have not done so already.

I should note that June 21 has been a paid statutory holiday in the Northwest Territories since 2001 and in Yukon since 2017.

I am pleased to contribute to today's debate and to call upon the House to carefully consider all the implications of the bill before us. I think we can aspire to an outcome that is aligned with the commitment to renew the relationship between Canada and indigenous peoples based on recognition of rights, respect, and co-operation in the same way the designation of National Indigenous Peoples Day 21 years ago was the result of a process that engaged and co-operated with the community.

Bills of Exchange ActPrivate Members' Business

March 20th, 2018 / 7:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join this important debate on my colleague's private member's bill, Bill C-369, which proposes to turn National Indigenous Peoples Day into a statutory holiday.

Conservatives have proudly marked National Indigenous Peoples Day annually, both in government and in opposition. We have encouraged Canadians to take part in local celebrations to learn our history and also celebrate the immense contributions of indigenous peoples to Canada.

The leader of the official opposition has stated that National Aboriginal Day is a celebration of the cultural heritage, achievements, and contributions made by first nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples in Canada. National Indigenous Peoples Day is not considered a national federal holiday. Bill C-369 seeks to change that. As such, it would amend the Bills of Exchange Act and the Interpretation Act in order to take this new holiday into account in the computation of time. It would also amend the Canada Labour Code in order to include the National Indigenous Peoples Day in the definition of a general holiday.

We certainly heard from the speaker just prior to me that this would not be a holiday for all Canadians. This bill would actually impact 6% of the labour force. There are issues with the provinces and territories. It is important to be very clear that this is not something that would happen across Canada.

We believe in reconciliation with all indigenous peoples. The opportunity for poverty reduction should be a key priority. First nations people should expect and have the right to a transparent and open government. We respect and appreciate National Indigenous Peoples Day, but we are not sure that creating a federal statutory holiday is the approach to take.

As I look over time, we have had many additions to our national holidays, but we have never actually talked about taking any away. I know private industry becomes increasingly concerned as more challenges are put on them, but what we never do is look at what might be more important than an existing holiday. If the House is going to support a measure like this to go forward, we need to look at existing holidays and talk about if all of them still make sense.

Quite frankly, when the non-partisan Library of Parliament was asked to consider what the costs would be to Canada's economy, it said that there did not appear to be any empirical studies. We will actually be voting on something, adding something, not taking anything away, and we will not have any real understanding of what the costs would be related to that. This is a private member's bill that would have significant impact, and I think we need to have a pretty clear understanding of what that impact would be.

We also know that we currently have a government that is spending lots of money. The Liberals are spending more money than they said they would spend. The deficit is going to be significantly higher than what was committed to Canadians. The Liberals' spending is out of control. To add more costs in terms of what the government is doing means we need to find out where it is going to start being sensible about its expenditures. More importantly, there is the issue of whether there is a holiday that should be taken away if we are going to look at adding one on. There is a significant impact on federally regulated businesses, but also potentially in terms of the federal public service.

I go back to the Royal Canadian Legion and the whole discussion around Remembrance Day and whether it is a statutory holiday. It is very different across the country. Legion officials have always expressed their worries that having the day off does not encourage people to attend the celebrations. The War Amps of Canada officials explicitly stated, “Our stance is that it should never be a holiday; you take away the uniqueness of being able to educate the younger generation on the horrors of war.”

In terms of the National Indigenous Peoples Day, I have had the privilege and honour to be both in my riding and in Ottawa on June 21. In McDonald Park in Kamloops, people come together and the celebration is amazing. Teachers come with their students to the park. Parents come to the park. It is truly an honour and a celebration. It is a recognition, locally, of the incredible contribution. Later that day, we gather on the grounds, and they have another celebration. These are very well-attended celebrations. The schoolchildren who come, and many do come and join us, are particularly enlightened, in terms of having the opportunity to benefit.

In Ottawa, it is the same thing. Many of us here have gone to the ceremony when the sun comes up and have enjoyed the Inuit music. We have enjoyed the celebrations, the dancing and singing of the Métis and the first nations. We all come together.

I am not always convinced that giving a day off is the best way to celebrate and honour this, and for people to learn. Again, I look at the experience in the community of Kamloops and across British Columbia. The evening newscasts on June 21 show amazing celebrations across the country.

I recognize the important intent of what my colleague would like to do. I think it needs some really important discussion to see if this is the best way to honour and recognize this, or whether continuing as we are is the best way forward.

I noticed that when my colleague was talking about the people who support this, she actually did not talk about the people who are going to be directly impacted, in terms of the federally regulated industries also providing their support for this particular bill. That is certainly something that is important, to see that federally regulated institutes across this country are on board. To date, we have not seen that.

In conclusion, we are having an important debate right now. I think we need to make sure it is a very fulsome debate.

Bills of Exchange ActPrivate Members' Business

March 20th, 2018 / 7:20 p.m.
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NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today to speak to my NDP colleague's Bill C-369. I am especially pleased that she introduced this bill, because this subject is very important to me. Designating a national indigenous peoples day would allow indigenous peoples to organize activities and talk about their culture, their history, and how they have influenced this country. On top of that, making this day a holiday would allow non-indigenous people to take part in the activities. That is the most important part.

Sadly, the history of the indigenous peoples is often poorly explained in our history books. We all took history classes in school, and we often heard the official version, rather than what really happened. There are still many people who do not know what really happened in the residential schools, for example. There are still people who do not know that such schools even existed.

This day would allow us to draw closer. It is important to understand the reality and experiences of indigenous peoples. That is why a statutory holiday is needed, because it would allow people to participate in activities. The indigenous communities in our ridings could organize events and invite people to join them, and people would be able to go because it would be a statutory holiday. People are happy to have the opportunity to participate in family activities. If this day were made a statutory holiday, the whole community could participate.

In its report, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission indicated that reconciliation is not an indigenous problem, it is a Canadian problem. We must be able to re-examine all aspects of Canadian society, and turning National Indigenous Peoples Day into a statutory holiday, as my colleague's bill proposes, would be a way of doing just that.

Neighbouring communities must help indigenous communities preserve their culture. We need to get involved because we all have a responsibility to contribute. Whether we like it or not, indigenous culture is part of the history of our regions. Abitibi-Témiscamingue would never have been the same without the contribution of indigenous peoples. Our history is closely tied to what happened with the Algonquin.

When the first settlers arrived in Abitibi-Témiscamingue, they were practically abandoned. They were told that they would get land and that they would have to fend for themselves and hope to survive winter. Without help from indigenous communities and the Algonquin who were living in the region and who showed these people how to survive and adapt to this reality, we would not be here today. I think it is right for us to celebrate this day together. We are talking about a holiday in celebration of one of our country's founding nations. Our country would definitely not be the same without the indigenous peoples. It is even likely that the first settlers would not have survived without help from indigenous peoples and that the venture would simply have been abandoned.

The first settlers who arrived with Jacques Cartier would probably not have survived if not for indigenous peoples. They would probably all have died of scurvy. I do not understand how anyone could think that such an important time in our history should not be celebrated with a holiday. This is about increasing dialogue between communities, so that we can eventually work towards reconciliation. It should be a time to pause.

Over the past few years, I have had the opportunity to participate in powwows held in my riding in mid-June. This has given me the chance to learn more about the communities. I have also learned about the traditional foods, because there are all kinds of learning activities on indigenous and Algonquin culture at these powwows.

Every time I go to one, I think about how wonderful it is that we can attend, because there used to be some uncertainty. Lots of people were not even sure they were welcome. Some people approached the community of Pikogan, which is one of the powwows I have attended. Community members said they would be pleased to welcome non-indigenous people. It is a learning opportunity for people. For example, when an eagle feather falls, they take the time to explain what is going to happen and what has to be done. Hundreds of people from my riding who attended the event learned more about indigenous peoples. If this day is not a statutory holiday, it will be hard to get people to go to an event happening after supper, when everyone is busy running around doing all the things they have to do.

We need to take the time to stop and learn about what indigenous peoples have contributed to our society and the challenges they face. We really need a dialogue between what are unfortunately, in some cases, two solitudes. I think we would all benefit from that.

I cannot express how fascinating it is even just to learn about the languages of our indigenous peoples. In Abitibi-Témiscamingue, many waterways, towns, villages, and mountains have Algonquin names. It is really interesting to learn where these names come from, why they were chosen, and what they mean.

I believe that all parliamentarians should support this bill because it is about the reconciliation of indigenous people and the communities living in the same territory. Once again, we need a statutory holiday to be able to truly take advantage of this time and what it can bring us.

The trauma of the past is too great for us to continue living in isolation, apart from one another. I hope that we as parliamentarians are ready to give indigenous people this day so that we can learn about one another. It would be so beneficial to learn about and discover one another. We should never close ourselves off from approaches that facilitate such exchanges.

I strongly recommend that all my colleagues support this bill and read what all the different indigenous organizations had to say about it. I believe that the majority of these organizations support the bill. Several members of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission support it. Therefore, I invite all my colleagues to read this excellent bill, to learn about it, and to support it.

Again, I thank my colleague. She has done a remarkable job. I am pleased to sit with her and to constantly have discussions with her.

Bills of Exchange ActPrivate Members' Business

March 20th, 2018 / 7:25 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, what a pleasure it is to rise and speak to a very important issue. It is virtually universally well received how important the National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21 is. Community members throughout our great nation, indigenous and non-indigenous, have made a note of that particular day. They recognize just how important it is that we take time to appreciate the many different contributions that indigenous people have made to who we are today as a nation. After listening to other members provide comments with respect to Bill C-369, I want to add a few thoughts.

First and foremost, I would like to recognize the efforts that the Prime Minister has put into this particular issue of indigenous people and the sense of commitment he brings to the table, wanting to work with indigenous people and garner the respect that is warranted in order to move forward, which is quite different from what we have seen with previous prime ministers. We see that attitude and that special relationship being incorporated and encouraged, from the Prime Minister's Office to the cabinet table and members of the Liberal caucus, but also members on all sides of the House. Whether or not we hear strong indications of support for the statutory holiday, all members of the House will recognize how important it is that we have a National Indigenous Peoples Day.

I would like to think that whatever side an MP might fall in on the issue, we recognize that something encouraging comes from the House of Commons today, and it is reflected in many of the speeches I have heard over the years. The whole idea of truth and reconciliation, calls to action, and the recommendations we have all been challenged to live up to is something we should all take seriously. It is one of the reasons I was so pleased to see the division of the department. We now have a minister who is looking solely at the issue of services, and we have an incredible minister of indigenous affairs who will do a fantastic job, continuing to go out and meet with individuals, solicit that very important input, and re-establish that relationship.

In my riding of Winnipeg North, I have had the opportunity to participate in the National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21, walking down Selkirk Avenue and on the school grounds of Children of the Earth High School, which is truly a unique school in western Canada, and I would suggest in all of Canada, where there is that special celebration. It is very encouraging that not only is our indigenous community getting engaged, but numerous non-indigenous people take the time to understand and appreciate just how important it is that we value these contributions.

The sponsoring member made reference to some very important issues in addressing the bill. It is important that we recognize the history. I had no idea that this bill was coming up today, but just this past Sunday I was on the grounds of the Manitoba legislature, where there is an individual named Joseph. I do not know his last name. He has a large tent and there are other indigenous people who participate. From what I understand, they are sleeping on the grounds of the Manitoba legislature.

It reminds me of another demonstration that occurred a few years prior to that. Community members beyond the indigenous community were trying to draw attention to the thousand-plus murdered and missing indigenous girls and women and how important it was to have a public inquiry.

In Winnipeg and Manitoba in particular, that issue is starting to resurface in terms of how important it is that the government makes sure we get this right. We had a recent court decision in regard to Tina Fontaine. For those who are not familiar with the Tina Fontaine case, she was a 15-year-old indigenous girl whose body was found in August 2014. She was pulled from the Red River. The sad reality is that there are far too many of those types of actions and discoveries taking place in our country. We need to get a better understanding of that.

The member opposite made reference to the issue of residential schools and the harm that has caused our society. I look at the area that I represent in Winnipeg North and the number of children who are in foster care. We can talk about many other issues where there seems to be a higher percentage of indigenous people, and elected officials need to look at that.

When we think of June 21, it is important to reflect on those types of issues, but it is also important that we celebrate the enormous contributions that indigenous peoples over the years have put in place to enable us to have the homes we have today. Canada as a nation is envied around the world. We would not be where we are today if not for indigenous people.

Getting a better appreciation for what a smudge is, or a powwow, or the many different wonderful contributions that have been made, also need to be highlighted. Earlier this week, I made reference to Folklorama. The Métis community has provided a pavilion over the years. We have had a first nation pavilion. These are popular pavilions. Individuals want to participate so they can become better educated about the culture and heritage of indigenous people. There is so much that is positive.

When I see the Métis tap dance with the violin, and how enthusiastic people are, or the many different types of dances and drums used within our first nations, the heritage of the hoop dance, it is truly amazing. There is a huge interest from the public to get a better understanding of them.

However, it goes far beyond that. I think in terms of indigenous people and the way they treat the environment or mother earth. We have a great deal to learn from that. We have so many other aspects of indigenous culture and heritage. We could be a better society by getting a better understanding of that.

There are many good reasons for why we should be celebrating June 21, and it is a day that I will continue to celebrate. I look forward to the debate on this very important issue in regard to whether it should be made a statutory holiday.

Bills of Exchange ActPrivate Members' Business

March 20th, 2018 / 7:35 p.m.
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NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to be standing in support of the long overdue action to have a National Indigenous Peoples Day made a statutory holiday. This is consistent with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's recommendations. I am very grateful to my colleague, the member of Parliament for Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, for bringing this forward.

If I were the Prime Minister, I would have adopted a bill just like this in 2016, on June 21, or in 2017. It is aligned with what the government says its objectives are. If it truly believes that its relationship with indigenous people is of the highest order and the highest precedence, then surely it would create space in our country for people to come together and talk about the legacy of residential schools, the overrepresentation of children in the child welfare system, and the overrepresentation of indigenous people, women in particular, in our jails.

We have a lot of work to do as a country. For a government that says that it wants to do the right thing and is very willing to spend money on all kinds of things, if it were to put its money where its mouths is, the Liberals would vote yes to this very constructive and concrete proposal.

I am honoured to stand in support of Bill C-369, representing Nanaimo—Ladysmith, and, in my community, to stand with the leaders and communities of Snuneymuxw First Nation, Stz’uminus First Nation, and Snaw-Naw-As, or Nanoose First Nation. These are leaders who have taught me a lot. In our community, on June 21, the solstice is increasingly the space being taken to recognize the past wrongs in the relationship with indigenous peoples in our country and the positive future we can have if we do. As my colleague says, “we are stronger when we are together”.

There is great work to do. For the families of Colton Boushie and Tina Fontaine, I am embarrassed and saddened by the failure to find the killers of their children and to witness the racism that has been unleashed in our country as a result of those trials. It tells us more and more that we have work to do as a country. Voting yes to the member for Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River's bill would be the least we could do.

I urge my colleagues on both sides of the House to vote yes for this constructive, positive, forward-looking motion, consistent with the government's promises on indigenous peoples and consistent with its promises to fully implement the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Bills of Exchange ActRoutine Proceedings

October 16th, 2017 / 3:05 p.m.
See context

NDP

Georgina Jolibois NDP Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-369, An Act to amend the Bills of Exchange Act, the Interpretation Act and the Canada Labour Code (National Indigenous People Day).

Mr. Speaker, in the spirit of reconciliation, it is an honour for me to introduce my bill that seeks to turn national indigenous people day into a statutory holiday. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission report stated, “Reconciliation is not an Aboriginal problem; it is a Canadian one. Virtually all aspects of Canadian society may need to be reconsidered.” My bill seeks to offer an opportunity to all Canadians and all government and community levels to reflect on concrete actions for reconciliation and recognition of first nations, Métis, and Inuit, their history, their rights, their cultures, and their languages.

June 21 would be a day to reflect on treaty relationships and the legacy of residential schools that continue to be a heavy weight on indigenous peoples. I look forward to getting my bill passed in the House.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)