An Act to amend the Bills of Exchange Act, the Interpretation Act and the Canada Labour Code (National Day for Truth and Reconciliation)

This bill was last introduced in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2019.


Georgina Jolibois  NDP

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


Second reading (Senate), as of April 2, 2019
(This bill did not become law.)


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

This enactment amends certain Acts to make National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, observed on September 30, a holiday.


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, an excellent resource from the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.


March 20, 2019 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-369, An Act to amend the Bills of Exchange Act, the Interpretation Act and the Canada Labour Code (National Day for Truth and Reconciliation)
Sept. 26, 2018 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-369, An Act to amend the Bills of Exchange Act, the Interpretation Act and the Canada Labour Code (National Indigenous Peoples Day)

November 16th, 2020 / 12:10 p.m.
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Acting Director, National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation

Stephanie Scott

Good morning. My name is Stephanie Scott, and I'm the acting director of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation. I am joined today by Stephen Kakfwi, who is a member of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation governing circle.

First, I would like to acknowledge that I am speaking to you from the original lands of the Anishinabe, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota and Dene peoples, and the homeland of the Métis nation.

I want to thank the House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage for the invitation to appear in view of your study of Bill C-5.

At the outset, I would also like to note that we owe a debt of gratitude to Georgina Jolibois, who first introduced Bill C-369, in October 2017, to create a national day for truth and reconciliation. Although Bill C-369 died in the Senate, it provided an important opportunity for dialogue and reflection. As Georgina said, “After 151 years of pain and suffering inflicted on First Nations, Métis, and Inuit people, there will now be a time to reflect and to build relationships to strengthen the Canadian society.”

I could not agree more. I spent five years at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and almost five years at the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation. As the manager of statement gathering at the commission, I had a unique opportunity to hear directly from survivors about their pain and suffering. My birth mother, who is in her sixties, says that she will never be the same because of the assimilation policies that took her away from the people she loved and the ones who loved her. May she find peace while she is still alive. To me, that's what reconciliation is all about.

My colleague Ry Moran appeared in front of this committee in 2018. At the time, Ry spoke about the TRC's examination of the place of residential schools in the history of this country, and he stated that “the TRC was forced to conclude that there are no words for it other than 'cultural genocide'.”

In 2019, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls also concluded that there has been “a race-based genocide of Indigenous Peoples [that] has been empowered by colonial structures evidenced notably by the Indian Act, the Sixties Scoop, residential schools and breaches of human and Indigenous rights”.

I too am a Sixties Scoop survivor.

The international human rights legal framework requires Canada to provide redress for past harms caused to indigenous peoples, such as those described by the commission and the national inquiry. Redress can be individual or collective and may have material as well as symbolic components. Symbolic components, such as commemoration, are powerful medicine to bring comfort to survivors and keep the truth of their experiences in front of the nation.

This is why the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's call to action 80 for a national day for truth and reconciliation is so important. Survivors and their families, and others affected by the residential school system, need a day for Canadians to acknowledge them and the history of human rights violations they have endured, while they are still living. The time to act is now.

In addition, we believe that the government must also implement the TRC's calls to action 81 and 82, which call for the federal, provincial and territorial governments, in collaboration with survivors, to establish monuments in capital cities across the country “to honour Survivors and all the children who were lost to their families and communities.”

Canadians need to know the truth and understand what happened in order to foster true reconciliation and healing. Commemoration and education are critical to understand the complicated and difficult history that we share as indigenous and non-indigenous Canadians. We have seen time and time again what a difference education can make to the journey we are now all on together to reconcile our past and create a bright future for all of the generations to follow.

I would now like to turn the floor over to Mr. Kakfwi.

Bills of Exchange ActGovernment Orders

October 30th, 2020 / 12:15 p.m.
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Mount Royal Québec


Anthony Housefather LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak in support of Bill C-5 to amend certain acts to add a new holiday, namely national day for truth and reconciliation.

Bill C-5 addresses a very important issue that every member of the House takes very seriously. The residential school system is a national tragedy, a stain of colonialism upheld by systemic racism. It is important to never forget this tragic part of our history and the legacy of residential schools. For that we must acknowledge the past and tell Canadians about the experiences indigenous children had in these schools.

As part of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission documented the experience of survivors, families, communities and those personally affected by residential schools. The commission presented a final report in 2015 with 94 calls to action to redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the process of reconciliation.

I want to read call to action 80. It states, “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.”

Although Bill C-5 seeks to address call to action 80, the Government of Canada remains committed to fully implementing the 76 calls to action that fall under federal responsibility.

As part of that commitment, the Government of Canada took an important step toward responding to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's call to action 80 by introducing a bill to create a national day for truth and reconciliation that, for federally regulated workers, will be observed as a statutory holiday on September 30.

September 30 was chosen because it is also Orange Shirt Day. Orange Shirt Day is about commemorating the legacy of residential schools and promoting reconciliation.

When it comes to such an important issue, creating a day for truth and reconciliation seems like a small gesture, but I would suggest it is an important one. It is important because there are too many people and too many communities in this country that continue to suffer from the injustice and stigma of racism.

During the current pandemic, we have seen the disproportionate impact of this crisis on racialized people, indigenous people, immigrant communities and other vulnerable Canadians.

Recently, we have seen racial injustice right before our eyes across the border. The killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis by police shocked many of us. We also saw the killing of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta, Daniel Prude in Rochester, and we cannot forget what happened a few years ago to Eric Garner in New York. Those brutal killings of Black people by police have shocked our consciousness.

Canadians cannot say that everything is fine in Canada. In my own province of Quebec in the Joliette hospital, we saw the death of Joyce Echaquan, an indigenous woman who livestreamed racist slurs, neglect and abuse while she was in the care of nurses and the staff of the hospital. This was in my own province.

This is a tragic example of the racism and intolerance indigenous peoples continue to face in Canada. It was heartbreaking and beyond unconscionable. If anyone dares to say that systemic racism does not exist in Canada, they should be ashamed.

How can we create a climate of trust, respect and mutual understanding?

We need to take time to acknowledge the oppression and discrimination that indigenous peoples experienced in Canada for centuries and to reflect on the challenges faced by indigenous communities.

The national day for truth and reconciliation will provide federally regulated workers with the opportunity to reflect on this issue and participate in educational and commemorative activities.

In 2018-19, the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage studied private member's Bill C-369, by our former colleague, Georgina Jolibois, which sought to make a national indigenous peoples statutory holiday. Witnesses from indigenous organizations were in favour of the creation of a statutory holiday to commemorate the history and legacy of residential schools.

Now let me address the legislation itself, which would amend the Bills of Exchange Act, the Interpretation Act and part 3 of the Canada Labour Code. Part 3 of the Canada Labour Code would be amended to establish the national day for truth and reconciliation as a holiday. It would provide federally regulated private sector employees with a paid holiday. It is on this portion of the bill that I focus.

Part 3 of the code covers approximately 955,000 employees and 18,500 employers. It contains provisions setting out minimum labour standards for workplaces in the federally regulated private sector and in most federal crown corporations. It includes important industries such as interprovincial and international transportation, banking, telecommunications and broadcasting, as well as some government activities on first nation reserves.

Part 3 does not apply to the federal public service, the Canadian Armed Forces, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police or parliamentary employees, but due to existing provisions in all federal public service collective agreements, as well as past practices to extend similar terms of employment to the RCMP and the Canadian Armed Forces, employees in the federal public sector would also be entitled to the new federal holiday.

Of course, as we all know, the Government of Canada does not have the constitutional authority to impose a statutory holiday for those employees who fall within the authority of provincial governments. That said, I would like to say a few words about the implementation of this new holiday.

A national day for truth and reconciliation would give over 955,000 federally regulated private sector employees an opportunity to participate in educational and commemorative activities related to residential schools and reconciliation. The day would also focus on the experiences of first nations, Inuit and Métis men and women, including those who work in federally regulated private sector organizations and in the federal public service.

The Government of Canada remains committed to reconciliation and to fully implementing the 76 calls to action that fall under federal responsibility.

Reconciliation remains a priority for us and the introduction of Bill C-5 is a step forward in the healing process for survivors who were harmed under the federally operated residential school system. Let us work together toward a renewed partnership built on respect, dialogue and recognition of rights.

Bill C-68—Time Allocation MotionFisheries ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2019 / 10:50 a.m.
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Robert-Falcon Ouellette Liberal Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, in the Senate there are a number of bills that are so important, just like this exact bill here, Bill C-68. There are also Bill C-88, Bill C-91, Bill C-92, Bill C-93, Bill C-391, Bill C-374, Bill C-369 and Bill CC-262. All these bills are being delayed by the Senate because they are taking far too long.

I was wondering if the hon. minister could tell us why the Conservative senators are delaying all these bills, delaying us from doing the job that Canadians have sent us here to do. They gave us a mandate in 2015, after a decade of darkness with the Conservatives, to repair the damage they had done to the environment and to indigenous communities and to make sure we get this job done.

Can the hon. minister talk a little bit about that, please?

The EnvironmentGovernment Orders

May 16th, 2019 / 5:05 p.m.
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Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, I can answer with just two words: Bill C-369. We have a way of evaluating environmentally sensitive projects such as a pipeline, but we are looking at having that pipeline provide a cleaner source of energy for old coal technologies used around the world. It will also give an economic benefit to enable us to pay for the transition into the new economy, which is something we have been very public about. The environment and the economy are connected. It is a matter of getting sustainable development of our environment using bills such as the one that is in the other place, Bill C-369, to have upstream and downstream emissions be part of the approval process. There are 156 conditions, and counting, that need to be met, including the indigenous conditions in that case.

We will work together with indigenous brothers and sisters and with the transition into the new economy.

Indigenous Languages ActGovernment Orders

May 9th, 2019 / 4:10 p.m.
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Sheri Benson NDP Saskatoon West, SK

Mr. Speaker, I want to begin my remarks, as many have today, by saying that we meet today on the traditional and unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinabeg. I hope that one day we will begin all our daily proceedings in this place with this acknowledgement. I also want to acknowledge that my riding is situated in Treaty 6 territory and on the ancestral homeland of the Métis people.

Tansi. On behalf of my constituents of Saskatoon West, I am honoured to offer a very small greeting in Cree. I do not speak the language. Of Canada's 70-plus indigenous languages, Cree is the most widely spoken in my riding of Saskatoon West.

We know that the ancestral languages spoken by the first peoples of Saskatchewan and Canada are at risk of not just decline but in many cases of extinction.

Of all the people reporting an indigenous mother tongue in Canada, the third-highest proportion lives in Saskatchewan. For centuries, Saskatchewan has been the ancestral home of many first peoples, including the Cree, Assiniboine, Saulteaux, Dene, Dakota, Atsina and Blackfoot. Many people would not know that we have five indigenous languages spoken in my riding: Cree, Ojibwa, Dene, Dakota and Michif. Indeed, most would not know that the vast majority of indigenous languages in this country are endangered and that there is a critical need to rise to the challenge and ensure their preservation, protection and promotion.

While Bill C-91 seeks to preserve and protect indigenous languages in Canada and to try to put our colonial past behind us, I find it deeply flawed. Sadly, I do not believe it would accomplish all that it is set up to do.

My esteemed New Democrat colleague from Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, who helped draft the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, expressed at second reading some significant concerns about the effectiveness of the legislation that he hoped would be addressed by the committee. I thought I would share his concerns.

First, the bill does not provide or indicate that significant funding will be dedicated for the protection of indigenous languages in Canada.

Protecting and promoting indigenous languages requires stable and long-term financial support based upon the needs of indigenous communities and provided within the principles of free, prior and informed consent. However, for four long years, instead of a federal government taking decisive action to protect, preserve, promote and invest in indigenous languages, the responsibility to educate our young people has continued to fall primarily on dedicated teachers, elders and individual speakers. These community leaders and language keepers have done an amazing job in building curricula and facilities, creating teaching materials and doing fundraising to help protect their languages.

One of those leaders, who lives in my riding of Saskatoon West, is Belinda Daniels. Belinda is a member of the Sturgeon Lake First Nation and an educator and teacher with Saskatoon Public Schools. Belinda comes from a generation of Cree people who grew up feeling shame and trepidation for trying to learn their own language, so as an adult, Belinda founded the Nehiyawak Summer Language Experience, a Saskatchewan language immersion summer camp that has been held annually for the last 13 years at Wanuskewin and is open to anyone wishing to learn Cree.

Belinda is a true leader, and I want to thank her for all her great and hard work in preserving and promoting the language of her people.

Belinda and others working hard to teach indigenous language need a federal government that will provide substantial and meaningful financial support to help them preserve and protect our traditional languages and cultures in Canada, but there is no such provision in Bill C-91, and the government rejected all opposition amendments that sought to provide this assurance.

A second shortcoming of the bill relates to the status given to indigenous languages. During the drafting process, the government was reputedly told that the status of indigenous languages in Canada must be defined, yet this bill provides no such framework. New Democrats would like to see indigenous languages recognized as official languages or given special status and would like to see this recognition articulated and implemented in collaboration with indigenous peoples.

A third issue, which I have already raised in the debate today, pertains to indigenous rights, and specifically to articles 11 to 16 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The bill before us today does not include within the text, and therefore the legally binding sections of the bill, the inherent rights of indigenous peoples to their languages, as articulated in the UN declaration.

New Democrats wanted to see articles 11 to 16 explicitly referenced in legislation, and we tabled an amendment that would do so. However, it was defeated by the government.

I have two final points I wish to raise that are particularly troubling to me and to others.

First, for some reason the government failed to include the sixties scoop in the preamble, where the bill references the racist and discriminatory policies and laws of the Canadian government that were detrimental to indigenous languages and contributed significantly to the erosion of these languages.

Over 20,000 indigenous children were stolen from their families, placed into foster care and adopted by non-indigenous families by the sixties scoop. During this time, the Saskatchewan government implemented the “adopt an Indian Métis” child program, or AIM, as it was called. AIM, promoted sometimes through classified ads in local newspapers, encouraged the adoption of indigenous children by non-indigenous families. This program was jointly funded by the Canadian government and the Province of Saskatchewan.

The sixties scoop and AIM were distinct racist government policies to devastate indigenous families, and in so doing to deny indigenous children and their families their basic human rights, including the right to their indigenous language and culture.

Bill C-91 should have acknowledged these racist government policies to ensure we all understand how we got here today and why a bill like Bill C-91 is so needed.

Finally, Bill C-91 would not require that the indigenous language commissioner be an indigenous person. This is the office that would oversee the progress of this legislation, yet government members rejected the NDP's attempts to ensure indigenous oversight over the bill's implementation.

Although government speakers promised at second reading to work with opposition parties and other members of the House and to be open to amendments that would improve the bill, I feel this legislation has found its way to the floor of the House today with virtually no opposition amendments of substance included.

To recap, the government rejected opposition and other members' calls to define the status of indigenous languages in Canada, strengthen indigenous oversight over federal programs, explicitly refer to our country's obligations under UNDRIP, include significant moments in our colonial history and, finally, to provide adequate funding so that indigenous languages can enter into a new era of revitalization.

Clearly, colonialism is not yet behind us, and I urge all members of the House to do better.

To end, I am profoundly disappointed—I think that would be the word— that this Parliament has missed the opportunity to really and truly co-create with indigenous people an indigenous language bill that would have truly transformed people's lives.

In closing, I want to acknowledge the work of my colleague, the member for Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River. This member has shown parliamentarians how to collaborate and work together on legislation. She has proven that working together yields positive outcomes. Her leadership on her own private member's bill, Bill C-369, is nothing short of commendable.

Unfortunately, when it came to Bill C-91, her leadership and knowledge as an indigenous Dene woman were discounted. Despite the great personal cost of her efforts, we are being asked to support a bill that falls well short. I quote her words:

While the bill would be a step forward, to what goal and to what end are we walking toward? Is the goal one of half measures that would marginally improve indigenous language education in Canada, or is the end goal one of fundamental change to Canadian society that fully respects the needs of indigenous languages, recognizes their place in our culture and creates a generation of indigenous youth who speak the same languages that generations of people before them spoke?

I wish we were today debating a bill that was the fundamental change my colleague had hoped for.

April 9th, 2019 / 4:35 p.m.
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Honoré-Mercier Québec


Pablo Rodriguez LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism

Thank you, Madam Chair.

Members of the committee, good afternoon.

Thank you for inviting me to speak before the committee.

Before we begin, I would like to acknowledge that we are gathered on the traditional territory of the Algonquin Anishinabeg.

As you mentioned, I am joined by Ms. Laurendeau and Mr. Francis.

Before we get into the supplementary estimates, I will thank the committee for all your hard work in the last couple of months on Bill C-91, regarding indigenous languages; on the review of the Copyright Act; on Bill C-369, to establish a national day for truth and reconciliation, just name a few. Those are very important issues to Canadians, and your work is making a difference in their lives.

Thank you for all your hard work.

Today I'm honoured to speak to you about the investments we're making in Canadian arts and culture. This year's budget reflects a promise we made to Canadians four years ago, a promise to support the middle class and the people working hard to join it. Canadian Heritage will continue to reinvest in our creators and cultural industries.

Why do we do it? We do it because culture matters. It matters to all Canadians. We all love going to the movies, singing along to a favourite band, or enjoying a great book. Judging from your reactions to a certain Canadian rock icon who recently paid this committee a visit, I think members of the committee can agree that some of our best memories are from concerts we've been to.

I often say that culture is fun, but it is also good for the economy. In fact, culture contributes more than $53 billion to the Canadian economy. The cultural sectors also employ over 650,000 Canadians and create many more jobs in the tourism industry. This means indirect job opportunities in restaurants, transportation and construction, among others. It has a major impact across the board.

Lastly, we've reinvested in culture because diversity and inclusion are important to Canadians. These values are part of our identity, part of who we are. Sadly, we know that Canada is not immune to racism, discrimination and the politics of division. That is why we're investing to celebrate our diversity and promote inclusion.

The investments in budget 2019 will allow us to keep the promise we made to Canadians.

We're supporting our music industry by investing $20 million over two years, or $10 million a year, in the Canada Music Fund. We're supporting our creators, festivals and shows by investing $16 million over two years in the Canada Arts Presentation Fund.

We're also supporting local celebrations, especially those of diverse groups such as pride festivals and powwows, by investing $34 million over two years in the Building Communities through Arts and Heritage Program and in the Celebration and Commemoration Program.

It should be noted that the amount also includes $10 million over two years to mark the new National Truth and Reconciliation Day and to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day.

Through the multiculturalism program, we support projects to eliminate discrimination, racism and prejudice in communities across Canada. In budget 2019, we proposed to provide $45 million over three years, starting this year, for a new anti-racism strategy. We want to find ways to combat racism in all its forms, while focusing on community projects. At the governmental level, these efforts will be coordinated by an anti-racism secretariat.

In terms of reconciliation, our government is taking a decisive step in the right direction by tabling our bill on indigenous languages. Thank you all for doing the pre-study and completing your report on the bill. What you did is so important, because as you know, the situation is urgent. Three-quarters of indigenous languages spoken in Canada are endangered. That is why we will provide adequate, stable and sustainable funding to reclaim, revitalize, maintain and strengthen indigenous languages.

In our 2019 budget, we're proposing major investments. You saw it: more than $333 million over five years, starting right now, starting this year, and more than $115 million every year after that.

The bill proposes responsive and flexible mechanisms that will allow us to direct funds to Indigenous communities, namely regional and national Indigenous organizations, and self-governing Indigenous governments.

They are the ones working on the ground, and they know local needs much better than I do, much better than we do. They are, therefore, best placed to define the solutions that will work best for them. They will have the freedom they need to allocate the funds appropriately.

Madam Chair, we look forward to continuing to work with you, members of the committee, and the Senate to pass the bill before the House adjourns for the summer.

In addition to the investments laid out in the budget, we're pleased that the supplementary estimates (B) include the additional funding we requested. It amounts to an increase of $9.34 million.

Allow me to review quickly the main items included in that amount. First, the amount of $5 million will go to the Vancouver Foundation to improve access to Canada's justice system. It's also our government's way of recognizing the enormous contributions of Beverley McLachlin, former chief justice of Canada. These funds are used to support projects that help break down barriers to civil and family justice.

Our government is committed to ensuring that Canadians have the best possible access to the justice system. It's key to having a healthy, democratic and inclusive society.

In honour of the former Governor General of Canada, the Right Honourable David Johnston, Supplementary Estimates (B) also include a grant of more than $2 million to support a foundation, which mobilizes Canadians around promising projects that contribute to a stronger Canada.

Thirdly, Supplementary Estimates (B) includes more than $1 million for the Canadian Soccer Association to support the 2026 FIFA Men’s World Cup of Soccer. Those who know me know that I'm very pleased about that.

Finally, I'd also like to mention an investment of more than $500,000 for an initiative of vital importance to all Canadian citizens: ensuring a healthy digital democracy.

The health of our democracy depends on the reliability and diversity of our news and information sources. Every citizen is entitled to develop informed opinions, hold governments and individuals to account, and participate in public discourse. There is a rise in false, misleading and harmful information online and in social media. In this matter, our government takes its role very seriously.

We support projects that equip Canadians with the ability to evaluate online information with a critical eye. In our 2019 budget, we want to strengthen this digital democracy project, so we're proposing an investment of more than $19 million over four years. These funds will create a program that will help us better understand the impacts of misinformation and identify ways to fight it. This investment will also allow Canadians to lead an international initiative to strengthen citizens' resilience to misinformation and promote diversity of online content.

It is in the same perspective that we want to support journalists across Canada. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Professional journalism is one of the pillars of our democracy.

When we see how quickly our newspapers are disappearing, we cannot stand idly by. Our government is playing a major role in that as well. It will continue to play a major role and we will do something about it.

You know that, you saw it in the fall 2018 economic statement: we announced our intention to bring in targeted tax measures in support of Canadian journalism, including through tax credits and tax incentives. I want to assure you that the fundamental principles of an independent and free press will be absolutely upheld in the granting of these credits and incentives.

Madam Chair, arts and culture remain priorities for our government, and we'll continue to support our artists and creators, just as we will continue to create jobs and protect our inclusive diversity.

Madam Chair, honourable colleagues, thank you for your attention.

I also want to thank my parliamentary secretary, Andy Filmore, for his absolutely extraordinary work. We are lucky to have him.

I would be pleased to answer your questions.

The House resumed from February 28 consideration of the motion that Bill C-369, An Act to amend the Bills of Exchange Act, the Interpretation Act and the Canada Labour Code (National Day for Truth and Reconciliation), be read the third time and passed.

National Day for Truth and ReconciliationStatements By Members

March 20th, 2019 / 2:05 p.m.
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Joe Peschisolido Liberal Steveston—Richmond East, BC

Mr. Speaker, over the span of 130 years, 150,000 indigenous children were forcibly taken from their parents and placed in Indian residential schools. The goal was to assimilate them into Canadian society and make them forget their culture and their history.

Today, I will be voting in favour of Bill C-369, which seeks to designate September 30 as a national day for truth and reconciliation. The date was chosen to coincide with Orange Shirt Day, which was created by Phyllis Webstad and Joan Sorley. I want to thank them for their leadership, and I also want to thank the member for Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River for introducing this vitally important bill.

Bills of Exchange ActPrivate Members' Business

February 28th, 2019 / 6:20 p.m.
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Georgina Jolibois NDP Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

Mr. Speaker, there are elder teachings, and many elders teach throughout Canada. I am going to make a comment to reflect this very moment.

To not love is to be fearful, to not be humble is to be self-centred, to not be honest is to be dishonest, to not be courageous is to be cowardly. In my line of work, historically and until now, when I am in the circles with indigenous people in communities, elders are very significant. The use of a circle, the teachings and learning to be humble are very significant.

I want to thank all hon. colleagues in the House of Commons for their time and for sharing their thoughts on Bill C-369. How we will fulfill the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action requires an active, all-party effort from everyone, and I appreciate that we saw that effort for call to action no. 80.

We still have a little time before all members gather here to vote on my bill, and I want to take a moment to respond to some of the points of debate that came up.

First, as I said a few nights ago, I welcome the amendments to my bill that came from a multipartisan effort to make sure this holiday was done in consultation with survivors of residential schools, with elders, with regional chiefs and with the major national indigenous organizations. The committee was thorough and well-meaning and ultimately came to the correct decision.

June 21 will remain National Indigenous Peoples Day and be celebrated by all Canadians, including first nations, Métis and Inuit people from coast to coast to coast. September 30 will be known as the national day for truth and reconciliation and will serve as an opportunity for Canadians to reflect on the history of residential schools and how the impact of our national shame continues to live on in Canada.

I have expressed my concerns about how the government will be honouring this holiday. Yes, a holiday will be created, but it is only meaningful if the resources are provided for Canadians to truly understand what that holiday means. That means a comprehensive engagement process with federal government employees to understand how their offices can meaningfully work with first nations, Métis and Inuit people. That means providing funding for cross-country memorial ceremonies done in partnership with survivors and first nations, Métis and Inuit organizations. That means creating culturally appropriate learning materials for education systems across the country, so that generations of Canadians will never forget what happened to indigenous people in this country. We are still waiting for answers to all of these questions.

Second, there has been some conversation about replacing other holidays that already exist. That is a fair question, but a debate that should happen at a different time. Generations of indigenous people have been told time and time again that they are in the way, that their concerns are secondary to everything else going on in Canada. For generations, indigenous people have been left out of political processes, left out of decisions that affect their ways of life, left out of decisions that say what languages they can speak and what gods they can pray to. If members of this House want to discuss the number of holidays in Canada, that debate should not be associated with the importance of this bill. The loss of a colonial holiday should not come at the expense of survivors and indigenous people gaining a holiday. I refuse to believe that this holiday will bear the weight of inconvenience to a colonial system.

As a final thought, I want to return to the positives of this bill, because far too many of our conversations rely on reliving trauma and discussing the problems in our first nations, Métis and Inuit communities.

This bill will not solve the housing crisis indigenous people live through and it will not fix the overrepresentation of indigenous children in foster care and it will not close the education gap that leaves indigenous children behind.

However, it will give Canadians the opportunity to fully understand why those problems exist. It would give space and time for the government to reflect on its failures and remind itself why it so important to work for and with indigenous people every other day of the year.

Progress will take time, but through my bill, we are taking the time to make progress and are moving forward.

Bills of Exchange ActPrivate Members' Business

February 28th, 2019 / 6:15 p.m.
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Marc Miller Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, Lib.

Mr. Speaker, it is with great honour I rise today to speak about this significant piece of legislation. We can all agree on the importance of acknowledging the impact of Indian residential schools on first nations, Inuit and Métis people.

Bill C-369, an act to amend the Bills of Exchange Act, the Interpretation Act and the Canada Labour Code (National Day for Truth and Reconciliation), calls for a day of commemoration, but an essential part of this day would be about educating Canadians.

I represent an area of Montreal that is traditional indigenous territory. It does not have a reserve on it, but it has many indigenous people and was a meeting place for indigenous peoples well before my people arrived.

The challenges we face as non-indigenous people in understanding what has gone on in the past are great. Before the word “reconciliation” comes the word “truth”, and that is perhaps the biggest challenge we face not only in this House but across Canada. What we still do not know is the truth. Often the truth is exceedingly painful.

I have had the privilege of starting on a very long path of learning an indigenous language, and not surprisingly, it has come with some surprises. As someone who was taught English and French, and has taken them both for granted, my conception of language is kind of a string on two soup cans between the people talking. It just vibrates, and that is what language is.

Naively, I embarked on this attempt to learn Kanyen'kéha, or Mohawk, thinking, like an idiot, “How hard could it be?" It is exceedingly hard. Having put perhaps an hour a day into it, I come out of these learning sessions, whether I am doing passive listening or working in my workbooks, with my brain completely fried.

One would think of it as if I were embarking on learning another Indo-European language that had some similarities with English and French. It is quite the contrary. It is a process of learning root words and piecing together ideas and images that are then conveyed onto other people. In this, one gains a very small glimpse into a window—

Bills of Exchange ActPrivate Members' Business

February 28th, 2019 / 5:55 p.m.
See context


Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is my absolute honour to rise today in support of Bill C-369.

It is also my honour to recognize that we are gathering today on the unceded territories of the Algonquin peoples.

This bill has been tabled by my colleague, the member of Parliament for Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River. I wish to share here that I witnessed how powerful it was for her to finally deliver her first speech on another bill in her Dene language, a language shared by many in her riding and across our northern communities. Having travelled with her in her northern Saskatchewan riding last summer, I can attest to how important it is that she can now finally speak in this place in one of the indigenous languages spoken by her constituents back home. What a joy it was to experience her in her community with her fellow community members, speaking their indigenous languages.

The intention of this bill is to create a statutory holiday on September 30 each year, starting this year. This delivers on call to action 80, issued by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The title of the report, “Honouring the truth, reconciling for the future”, conveys the depth of the tragedy and the need for action.

It may be noted that the Prime Minister, early in his mandate, publicly committed to deliver on all 94 calls to action. Therefore, we need to be grateful that my colleague has brought forward the opportunity to deliver on at least one of them.

I want to read call to action 80. It states:

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 is my understanding and my hope that there is now multiple-party support by members in this place for this bill. I noted that my colleague, in speaking to her bill yesterday, reminded us that we are all responsible for becoming actively engaged in reconciliation.

The intent of the bill is therefore twofold: first, to recognize the continuing need for support for healing for survivors of the residential school system in recognition of the continued impacts down through generations, and to recognize it as a cultural genocide; and second, to directly inform and engage Canadians in knowledge of the residential school system and the harm it caused.

I wish to honour the dedication of the commissioners, Justice Murray Sinclair, Chief Wilton Littlechild and Dr. Marie Wilson, in undertaking the momentous process of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It is important to honour the many residential school survivors and their families who came forward to share their experiences.

The report conveys the principle that reconciliation is a relationship. I would like to share what the report says. It states:

For many Survivors and their families, this commitment is foremost about healing themselves, their communities, and nations, in ways that revitalize individuals as well as Indigenous cultures, languages, spirituality, laws, and governance systems. For governments, building a respectful relationship involves dismantling a centuries-old political and bureaucratic culture in which, all too often, policies and programs are still based on failed notions of assimilation.

My hon. colleague spoke to this when she spoke to this bill previously, and we were very close to the place where the residential school was unfortunately created.

It also states:

Schools must teach history in ways that foster mutual respect, empathy, and engagement. All Canadian children and youth deserve to know Canada’s honest history, including what happened in the residential schools, and to appreciate the rich history and knowledge of Indigenous nations who continue to make such a strong contribution to Canada, including our very name and collective identity as a country. For Canadians from all walks of life, reconciliation offers a new way of living together.

Canada already celebrates our first nations, Métis and Inuit cultures and languages every year on June 21, National Indigenous Peoples Day, which is during the summer solstice. My understanding is that initially, my colleague proposed that it be that day. However, she has very graciously agreed to change her bill, so we are going to have a day of celebration in June during the solstice, and then we would have a day of recognition and learning at the end of September each year.

I have had the delight of attending many of the events on June 21 in my riding, joining in the round dances and attempting a jig. Who can resist another bannock burger? It is wonderful to see all the schoolchildren joining in those activities.

The day proposed by Bill C-369 would be a more solemn day, however, to learn about the sufferings of those who were torn from their families, forced to travel far from their families and stripped of their language, beliefs and cultures. For far too many, this was for their entire childhood.

As was pointed out by my colleague, it will be necessary that the government commit well in advance of September 20 this year the necessary funds to ensure that the intents are achieved and that there are clear plans for the day. It is absolutely important that this be in direct consultation with the first nation, Métis and Inuit peoples, in particular in the communities where the activities would occur, which I hope will be every community across this country. The intention is to honour the suffering and provide opportunities for teaching.

My colleague has asked that this day also be recognized as a time for reconciliation for those children torn from their language and culture during the sixties scoop and those from the day schools and boarding schools not yet recognized.

I have been inspired by the initiative of many indigenous people to engage us in the process of reconciliation. My dear friends Hunter and Jacquelyn Cardinal, children of my friend Lewis Cardinal, have founded the Edmonton company Naheyawin, which is reaching out through theatre, through the arts and through round tables to teach people about the treaties. It is a very important action that has not been done across this country. It is so important to my province, where we are the land of the historic treaties and there have been constant calls by first nations leaders for recognition of those treaties.

As Jacquelyn has shared, she wants people to move past feelings of guilt from past wrongs and focus on a better future. She wants people to get past the guilt many feel for the past and look forward to making things better. She hopes the round tables will be based on the Cree word tatawaw, which means, “There is room for you. Welcome.”

I am also very grateful that the famous Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival last year featured and honoured indigenous culture and incorporated many ceremonies to honour first nations, Métis and Inuit throughout the festival.

I am very grateful to my colleague, and I wish to thank her.

Bills of Exchange ActPrivate Members' Business

February 28th, 2019 / 5:45 p.m.
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Dan Vandal Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indigenous Services, Lib.

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House today on behalf of the people of Saint Boniface—Saint Vital to talk about this bill, which is extremely important for our country.

It is a great honour to rise to speak to Bill C-369, a bill very close to my heart. It seeks to create a new federal statutory holiday for truth and reconciliation.

First, it is imperative that we acknowledge and thank the hon. member for Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River for bringing the bill to the floor of the House for debate, but, more important, for being an extremely strong advocate for indigenous rights and advocating for indigenous people not only in her riding but across Canada.

I have had the honour to speak in the House many times about our country's path toward reconciliation. It is quite clear to me that reconciliation does not belong to a single political party or an individual. Instead, it is a shared path for all Canadians. The pathway toward reconciliation is one that we must walk together, and this bill exemplifies the journey. It was honour to work with my colleagues from all political parties on the legislation.

I had the privilege to sit in on testimony at the Standing Committee for Heritage, which studied the bill. It was this testimony that we heard that ultimately shaped my views on the bill and solidified my belief on the importance of passing it into law.

In the greater conversation about reconciliation, it would be too easy to dismiss the bill and neglect to see its importance.

First, we must recognize that the act of creating a new statutory holiday is not minor in itself. In fact, this day will be the first new holiday created at the federal level in over 60 years. It joins in ranks of importance with Canada Day and Labour Day, highlighting the significance and importance of this day.

Second, we must consider the importance that this day will have personally for indigenous people. Throughout the witness testimony, we heard from many organizations and groups that highlighted the significance of a day of commemoration, the important need to have a day to reflect on the harm that had been historically inflicted on first nations, Inuit and Métis people. The importance is reflected by its inclusion as a call to action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

I was disappointed to hear my hon. colleague from the Conservative Party, in the House last Tuesday, say that the party would not be supporting the bill. The hon. member argued that rather than creating a new holiday, an existing holiday should be appropriated and transformed. Of course, I disagree with that.

The question would become this. Which other day should be appropriated? Would it be Labour Day, a day to celebrate the hard-won fights of the labour movement in Canada? Would it be Canada Day, a day meant to unite all Canadians in pride of this great nation? Would it be Remembrance Day, when we solemnly commemorate the sacrifices of our veterans, including our honoured first Nations, Inuit and Métis veterans? Which holiday would the Conservatives prefer to see reimagined?

Moreover, none of the existing holidays have any significance to the indigenous community relating to the legacy of residential schools. It is my belief that it is the survivors who should have the ultimate authority over which day should be chosen.

September 30 was a date chosen deliberately for its significance to indigenous people. Currently September 30 is the date of a grassroots movement, started by the formidable Phyllis Webstad, called Orange Shirt Day. lt was named for the orange shirt that Ms. Webstad painstakingly selected for her first day of residential school only to have it ripped away from her upon her entrance into the school. Her orange shirt is symbolic of the culture, language and childhoods that were ripped away from the students of residential schools.

We heard at committee that September was a painful time for many indigenous people, as it was the month that their children were taken, year after year, to return to school, leaving their loved ones and communities behind.

It is appropriate to mark this pain with a solemn day of reflection and reconciliation in action. This bill represents that.

It has always been my belief that one of the pillars of reconciliation is education. The creation of a national day for truth and reconciliation is emblematic of education in action. Students still return to school each year in September. Beyond the great symbolic importance of this new date, it would also provide a magnificent opportunity for learning and education within our school systems.

I envisage a day when schools across the country mark the holiday with ceremonies and a day of learning. lt is my hope that schools will invite elders to come into classrooms to teach both indigenous and non-indigenous children about the painful history of indigenous people across the country, but also about the hope all indigenous people have for the future.

I think of the way schools across the country use Remembrance Day as a learning tool for children of all ages to learn about the horrors and conflicts Canada has been involved in, and believe this new day for truth and reconciliation would be a perfect opportunity to be a learning tool for another important part of Canada's history.

Unfortunately only half of Canadians are familiar with the residential school system and its long-term effects on the indigenous population. This, frankly, is a devastating and unacceptable statistic. The key, in my opinion, is to fix this statistic through education.

I must emphasize the continued great work of our party and government on reconciliation and the advancement of indigenous rights.

ln my home province of Manitoba, I am extremely proud to celebrate with the community of Shoal Lake 40 on the progress of Freedom Road. After many years, it was our government that stepped up and pledged the necessary funding to ensure this community was finally connected to the mainland, after the construction of Winnipeg's aqueduct in 1919 turned Shoal Lake into an island. The completion of Freedom Road will allow the community to build its own water treatment plant.

On the topic of access to clean water, our government has committed to ending all long-term boil water advisories by 2021, a task previous governments have neglected. Our government recognizes and affirms the right of communities to access clean and safe drinking water. I am proud to say we have been able to lift 80 long-term drinking water advisories since 2015.

lt is my honour to serve as the parliamentary secretary for the Minister of Indigenous Services. Today, we tabled important legislation on the welfare of first nations, Métis and Inuit children in care. There is an ongoing crisis in indigenous communities. Too many children are being removed from their homes and communities. This crisis is particularly staggering in Manitoba. This legislation would reaffirm the inherent right of indigenous people over their own children. I look forward to the upcoming debate in the House on this very important legislation.

I have had the privilege to again attend meetings of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage as it undertakes a study on an act respecting indigenous languages, which also seeks to implement several important calls to action. My own indigenous language, Michif, is at risk of extinction. The bill would allow for its preservation, but also for more Métis across the country to learn and revitalize it.

There is much more work to be done, but we can be proud of what we have accomplished together in the last three years of government. I look forward to further advancing these files and continuing to work hard for indigenous people across our great country.

Bills of Exchange ActPrivate Members' Business

February 28th, 2019 / 5:25 p.m.
See context


Martin Shields Conservative Bow River, AB

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-369, an act to amend the Bills of Exchange Act, the Interpretation Act and the Canada Labour Code, regarding national indigenous peoples day.

As we spoke about this and had several witnesses come to the committee, it became evident that there was no consensus on this issue. There were a lot of differences of opinion and a lot of different ideas expressed. Not being able to reach consensus, one of the amendments I proposed was to just withdraw one of our national holidays as it is named and replace it with this particular one. That was not accepted and had to be withdrawn. However, let me say why I would suggest that.

The goal of the legislation is absolutely laudable for reconciliation with indigenous peoples as a national objective, but I am not sure that adding a different national holiday, as described in this process, makes sense because of the variety of opinions and reasons we heard discussed at the committee.

The residential schools were a dark chapter in Canada's history. We understand that. In 2008, Prime Minister Harper delivered a historic apology to former students, their families and communities for Canada's role in the operation of the schools.

Our former Conservative government also created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as part of the 2007 Indian residential schools settlement agreement. That agreement recognized that the residential school system had a profoundly lasting and damaging impact on indigenous culture, heritage and language. I know there are several members in the House who had connections to those residential schools. I can only speak from the opportunity I have had to visit those residential schools in recent times.

My mother was a teacher who taught in a former residential school, after it had been changed from a residential school to a band-controlled school, so it was a different building at that time. I have had the opportunity to walk through residential schools with elders and listen to the stories they tell about the disastrous, horrendous things that happened to them as children in these particular schools. I have had that experience. Although that is nothing comparable, I have had a little insight.

We must remember this dark chapter in our history and do our best to achieve reconciliation. However, the government must also keep its promises to improve the lives of indigenous peoples. I sat in the committee for the last number of days, hour after hour, listening to great indigenous people talk about indigenous languages and what they need to do to deal with those languages, because it is such an integral part of their lives, their communities and their nations.

I think about the historic challenges we have with that piece of legislation as proposed, and we have had all sorts of members in the House bring up issues about clean drinking water for reserves, improved education and improved housing. When I think about a national holiday, we have to look at the cost of this if all federal employees were on a paid holiday. What does that do for reconciliation if those people have a paid holiday?

What if we were to take those hundreds of thousands of dollars, and some people would say hundreds of billions of dollars, up to a bigger number, and put that directly into the indigenous languages program? We do not have the funding in there now. Other than this term “adequate” and three commissioners, there is no funding and most of our witnesses talked about the issue of funding for indigenous languages.

If we were instead to take the money that would have given federal employees a holiday and put it into the indigenous languages program, which is so critical to the foundation of these particular bands, indigenous cultures, Métis and Inuit settlements and put that money into reconciliation, into something that would work for them, that would be a benefit for their culture because it would bring their languages more to life.

We could also talk about drinking water. If we took those hundreds of millions of dollars and put it directly into drinking water, that would also be a good move.

There have been many issues brought up and addressed with housing and the horrendous conditions of housing. If we took that money and instead of giving it as a holiday for federal employees, put it into housing, it would make much more sense. I suggested an amendment that we take one of our national holidays now and substitute this one in. Some indigenous groups came to see us. I understand totally that June 21, the solstice, the first day of summer, is an incredible day, one that is celebrated. Many heritage activities take place. Many schools are involved in it.

In many parts of the country there are many Remembrance Day activities that occur without a national holiday. Many of the witnesses at committee talked about the importance of June 21 as a celebration, a solstice, as the beginning of summer. We would all like to have it warm up a little here and spring to come soon, but the significance of June 21 was important to many of our witnesses.

The other important one is Orange Shirt Day. Orange Shirt Day is specifically for reconciliation for the residential schools. Many of our witnesses talked about the importance of recognizing Orange Shirt Day and many of the stories we heard from witnesses were about residential schools, the challenges and the horrendous things that happened and why Orange Shirt Day was important.

Again, there was a difference of opinion. Some of them would say we should have recognition on June 21 and other people wanted Orange Shirt Day as recognition. I proposed removing one of the statutory holidays we have now because there was no agreement between either date. Some would say if we cannot agree on one or the other, just do both. That is not quite what the witnesses wanted either.

It occurred to me that we had a very short time period trying to make a decision for other people again. When we talked to witnesses, the consultation was too short. It did not give them the time to look at this issue and discuss whether it was June 21, Orange Shirt Day or another day that could be used. They did not have the time to consult across the country and bring a voice back to us to say this is what they want. We have a piece of legislation telling them what they should do. Let us do more of what we thought we should have done in the first place. This is a very important issue, but if we set it out and say this is what they should do, we have not consulted on this in the right way.

Orange Shirt Day is a critical piece of reconciliation. June 21, the solstice, is celebrated now in many parts of the country. It is a learning experience in schools and in communities with indigenous people, but we should not be dictating the day for them. We should take the time to consult, work with it and get the answer from them that they would like, rather than passing legislation saying that this is what they should do.

We should not give a paid holiday to government employees when we could take that money and do something about indigenous languages, housing and water. Let us not waste it. Let us get something appropriate done.

The House resumed from February 26 consideration of the motion that Bill C-369, An Act to amend the Bills of Exchange Act, the Interpretation Act and the Canada Labour Code (National Day for Truth and Reconciliation), be read the third time and passed.

Bills of Exchange ActPrivate Members' Business

February 26th, 2019 / 7:20 p.m.
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Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet NDP Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will begin my speech by acknowledging that the land on which we are gathered today to speak to the important bill introduced by colleague from Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River is part of the traditional unceded territory of the Anishinabe Algonquin people.

I think it is especially important to point that out because, from a reconciliation perspective, I want every elected member of the House to remember that historical fact during this evening's debate.

Call to action 80 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada states:

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 is in this context that my colleague introduced her bill to make National Indigenous Peoples Day a statutory holiday in Canada. As everyone is well aware, there are currently no federal statutory holidays dedicated to indigenous peoples. National Indigenous Peoples Day does exist and has been celebrated on June 21 since 1996, but it is not recognized as a statutory holiday under the Canada Labour Code.

Bill C-369 calls on the federal Parliament to show some leadership and set an example for the provincial and territorial governments that have not yet created this statutory holiday, in response to the call to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

Reconciliation is not an indigenous issue, it is a Canadian issue. To achieve true reconciliation, we may be called upon to re-examine all aspects of Canadian society.

That is why the commission is calling on all levels of government in Canada to take concerted action and measures across the entire country and in all communities in the interest of reconciliation with first nations, Métis and Inuit.

To achieve that goal, merely recognizing the existence of these peoples is not enough. We must also recognize their history, their rights, their cultures and their languages.

By passing Bill C-369, the House of Commons would be sending a clear message about its intention to create space for reconciliation.

Once established, this national holiday would serve as a reminder to us all of what it really means to have a treaty-based nation-to-nation relationship. It would be an expression of respect for the historic and cultural importance of first nations, Métis and Inuit.

The people we wish to recognize by creating this statutory holiday are the first inhabitants of this continent, who arrived when the glaciers disappeared from these lands.

When the first French settlers arrived, indigenous people helped them survive by showing them how to adapt to the environment and the harsh climate, which was unfamiliar to the first Europeans to set foot in North America.

Of course, the bill would not tackle all the socio-economic problems faced by indigenous people, which my party raises all the time in the House.

In passing, I would like to mention the atrocious and intolerable living conditions found in too many indigenous communities throughout the territory that we now call Canada. The federal government continues to drag its feet. We need a targeted housing strategy for indigenous people.

Naturally, the creation of a holiday must be accompanied by significant action to improve living conditions for indigenous peoples in Canada. However, dedicating a holiday to indigenous peoples would provide a time and space for reflection on our colonial history and its lasting effects on the rights of first nations, Métis and Inuit peoples across Canada.

For example, this holiday could become an opportunity to organize events to commemorate and raise awareness about victims of residential schools and Canada's colonial system, the effects of which still weigh heavily on indigenous peoples today.

My colleague's bill is not a new idea. 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.

It was not until 1996 that June 21 was proclaimed National Aboriginal Day by then governor general Roméo LeBlanc.

This date was chosen after consultations with indigenous peoples and statements of support from numerous groups, some of which wanted the summer solstice to become National Aboriginal Day.

When my colleague originally introduced this bill, she also asked that National Aboriginal Day, June 21, be designated a federal statutory holiday.

At the time, the national day for truth and reconciliation was not clearly defined. Since 2016, Orange Shirt Day has become the appropriate day to commemorate the legacy of residential schools and honour their survivors. The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, which was in charge of studying Bill C-369, consulted first nations, Inuit and Métis, and they all agreed that September 30 should be considered the day of commemoration. The bill was amended to designate that date as the national day for truth and reconciliation.

As I said earlier, other governments in Canada have responded to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's call to action 80 by making National Indigenous Peoples Day a statutory holiday. It is a statutory holiday in the Northwest Territories and has been a holiday in Yukon since May 2017.

In June 2017, my colleague from Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River introduced the bill we are debating today to get the federal government on board. In September 2017, provincial NDP MPP Michael Mantha introduced a bill in the Ontario legislature entitled An Act to proclaim Indigenous Day and make it a holiday.

The federal government has stated many times that its most important relationship is its relationship with indigenous peoples. The government also committed to responding to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action in a spirit of reconciliation and healing. Elected officials in other governments get it. This bill gives the government another opportunity to move from words to action.

Inspired by the commission's call to action 80, this bill would give hope to indigenous peoples by fostering awareness of the consequences of residential schools and paying tribute to residential school survivors and victims of foster family abuse, as well as their families and their communities.

In addition, a statutory holiday would give Canadians an opportunity to better understand and acknowledge our shared history, which is a crucial component of reconciliation. This bill gives the federal government, as well as the House of Commons, a chance to participate in the reconciliation process by designating a day to reflect on our dark colonial past and to pay tribute to the contributions, heritage, and diverse cultures and languages of indigenous peoples.

Long before the environment became a topical issue, indigenous people respected the environment and took a sustainable management approach. They developed democratic political and social systems. They understood the importance of forging alliances, and their diplomatic structure played an important role in the early days of settlement. We also have a lot to learn from their customs, including sharing and showing profound respect for elders. Many prominent indigenous figures and indigenous-led projects have helped give them a voice and earn recognition for indigenous contributions, heritage and cultures.

Kondiaronk, also known as Sastaretsi, sacrificed his life to help put an end to devastating wars by signing the Great Peace of Montreal in 1701. In Quebec, Wapikoni Mobile helps young people and gives them a voice. That is how Anishnabe rapper Samian found fame. Cindy Blackstock advocates on behalf of indigenous children who have been abandoned by the Canadian government. Melissa Mollen Dupuis, an Innu from the North Shore who co-founded the Quebec chapter of the Idle No More movement, advocates for environmental protection and for access to education, health care and adequate housing.

New Democrats are not the only ones who support the creation of a statutory holiday to recognize indigenous peoples. The Assembly of First Nations has been calling for this for years. Bobby Cameron, the chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, has supported this measure since 2017. Robert Bertrand, the national chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, has also publicly expressed support.

I would like to conclude my speech by reading an excerpt from the farewell message of our friend Paul Dewar, who was taken from us too soon. At Paul's celebration of life, indigenous leader Claudette Commanda talked about how Paul had been given an eagle feather, which represents honesty, integrity and authenticity, and she thanked him for what he had done for her people.

Paul said:

Ottawa, don’t stop now. Let’s show our strength together. Let’s embrace the vision of Algonquin elder William Commanda for an authentic and organic future, rooted in the wisdom of the Indigenous people upon whose land we reside.