An Act to amend the Historic Sites and Monuments Act (composition of the Board)

Sponsor

John Aldag  Liberal

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

Status

Second reading (House), as of Dec. 13, 2017

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Summary

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

This enactment amends the Historic Sites and Monuments Act to increase the number of members of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada and to provide for First Nations, Inuit and Métis representation on the Board. It also modifies the en­titlements of Board members.

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.

Historic Sites and Monuments ActPrivate Members' Business

December 13th, 2017 / 4:55 p.m.
See context

Liberal

John Aldag Liberal Cloverdale—Langley City, BC

moved that Bill C-374, An Act to amend the Historic Sites and Monuments Act (composition of the Board), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise in the House to speak about my private member's bill, Bill C-374, An Act to amend the Historic Sites and Monuments Act (composition of the Board).

I would like to begin by recognizing we are on the traditional territory of the Algonquin people. As we all recognize, acknowledging traditional territories is a small but meaningful way to promote reconciliation with indigenous people.

Bill C-374 would amend section 4(d) of the Historic Sites and Monuments Act to include three new indigenous representatives on the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, or HSMBC, one each for first nations, Métis, and Inuit.

While section 4(d) of the Historic Sites and Monuments Act currently provides for one representative from each province and territory, and while there is an indigenous affairs and cultural affairs directorate from Parks Canada, there is no formal representation of indigenous peoples, organizations, or governments on the board.

Bill C-374 would address this by implementing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's call to action 79.i, which calls upon the federal government to “amend the Historic Sites and Monuments Act to include First Nations, Inuit, and Métis representation on the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada and its Secretariat.” This change is crucial to continue breaking down the walls of exclusion, which have historically existed between the federal government and indigenous people in Canada.

The fact is no relationship is more important to our government and to Canadians than the one with indigenous people. We have been clear that we are committed to a renewed relationship based on recognition of rights, mutual respect, co-operation, and partnership. It is critical we recognize the journey toward true reconciliation is far from over, and that we can and must do more in repairing our relationships with indigenous people.

Our government has been clear in our support for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action, and indeed have made progress on 41 of them. Bill C-374 and the inclusion of indigenous persons on the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada presents an opportunity for all members in this House to continue this important work.

The Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada plays a fundamental role in the ways in which we recognize historical persons, places, and events in Canada. It evaluates applications for designating national historic places, heritage railway stations, and heritage lighthouses.

The Historic Sites and Monuments Act grants the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada the power to: receive and consider recommendations respecting the marking or commemoration of historic places; establish historic museums, and the administration, preservation, and maintenance of historic places and museums; and advise the minister in carrying out his powers under this act.

The board has the mandate to advise the Minister of Environment on the designation of national historic sites, heritage railway stations, heritage railway lighthouses, persons of national significance, and events of national significance.

Today, Canada's network of national heritage designations encompasses nearly 1,000 sites, 650 persons, and 400 events. My home province of British Columbia has 94 designated sites, 40 events, and 52 persons of national significance. Through these designations, we are able to deepen our understanding of the past, appreciate the present, create a better future.

Reconciliation involves a similar process, linking past, present, and future. To forge a new relationship with indigenous people, based on mutual respect and recognition, we must first critically re-examine Canada's history, and how that history influences our modern reality.

The changes proposed in Bill C-374 address a specific aspect of reconciliation: the designation and commemoration of historic places, persons, and events. The Government of Canada is committed to achieving reconciliation with indigenous peoples based on the recognition of rights, and through mutual respect, co-operation, and partnership.

Senator Murray Sinclair put the issue poignantly. He said, “Reconciliation is not an aboriginal problem, it is a Canadian problem. It involves all of us.”

I am hopeful that members on both sides of this House will join me in supporting Bill C-374, and help advance reconciliation with indigenous peoples in Canada. I am proud of the progress that our government has made and continues to make in advancing reconciliation with indigenous peoples.

Our government took the unprecedented move of dismantling the paternalistic and colonist approach to indigenous affairs, creating two new federal departments: Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, and Indigenous Services. We recognized that a new relationship required new structures.

Further, we have committed a new integrated approach to Jordan's principle, resulting in 1,500 additional children now receiving care. We committed full support of, and commitment to fully implement, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We launched a national inquiry on missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. We developed bilateral mechanisms with indigenous organizations to develop policy on shared priorities.

This last point, new bilateral mechanisms, is one I would like to highlight in particular as it reflects our government's commitment to new ways of engaging with indigenous peoples, as well as ensuring their voices are represented in government decision-making processes. That is why the bill is so important. It would ensure indigenous persons would be given a voice at the decision-making levels of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada.

How can we expect to accurately commemorate our heritage spaces if we lack the voices of first peoples of this land?

The need for inclusion of indigenous voices in commemorating our past was highlighted through the recent work of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, a committee on which I participate. As members in this place will know, our committee recently tabled a study on the state of heritage preservation in Canada, entitled “Preserving Canada's Heritage: the Foundation for Tomorrow.”

The Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development believes the federal government needs to take stronger action to preserve Canada's historic places. During our study, we heard from numerous witnesses. During his appearance before the committee, Mr. Ry Moran, director of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, reminded the committee about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's recommendations regarding the protection and conservation of indigenous heritage in Canada.

Mr. Moran expressed particular concern about the state of conservation of the 17 remaining residential schools if nothing was done to preserve them. He explained to the committee that some indigenous communities wanted to preserve these residential schools as evidence of history. However, he said that it was easier to obtain funding to demolish these schools. Mr. Moran noted that indigenous communities wanted to be able to choose whether they preserved or demolished these buildings. Moreover, he emphasized the need to commemorate the places where demolished residential schools once stood, as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommended.

The committee heard that the inclusion of indigenous people was a priority and a necessity for the heritage community; that today's heritage organizations, departments, and agencies were ill-equipped to protect and preserve indigenous heritage; that indigenous people must be involved in defining, designating, commemorating, and preserving their heritage; and that indigenous communities, governments, and organizations wanted to have a voice and a place for their people to have a voice in heritage conservation.

Ms. Joëlle Montminy, vice-president of indigenous affairs and cultural heritage directorate, Parks Canada Agency, commented:

...we have started engaging with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, for instance, specifically on call to action 79(iii), the aspects of commemorating the legacy of residential schools. We're looking at how we're going to be implementing that. There's also, as you know, under 79, the appointment of members to the board—indigenous members, Métis, first nations, and Inuit. We're working on that, and that will done in consultation with indigenous groups. There's also the other section of 79, in relation to reviewing our policies, protocols, and practices to make sure we are inclusive of indigenous perspectives and voices...of the board.

Bill C-374 would directly support this work by Parks Canada by creating the legislative framework to implement call to action 79(i).

Mr. Christophe Rivet, president of ICOMOS Canada, also provided testimony to the recent study. He noted:

I will certainly not pretend to speak on behalf of indigenous people. However, I will share some of the echos of what we've heard, and we have indigenous people on our board of directors. What we see is that Canada is not equipped to deal with protecting things that are important to our indigenous people. It does so through certain legislation, but there are some big challenges. One of them is the protection of cultural landscapes. Another is the protection of archeological sites. These are significant shortcomings in thinking about how to, for example, implement the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This is something we are noticing, and this is why our committee is looking at it as a priority. We feel ill-equipped to respect, express, and protect the world vision of the many indigenous communities.

Returning to Mr. Moran's testimony, he further noted:

This is an exceptionally important conversation that we're going to have here, and not only in regard to heritage. What I will be presenting strikes at the very heart of our national identity: what we choose to remember, what we choose to forget, and the essential requirement asked of us as Canadians to preserve and remember a history that is deeply troubling, has been deeply damaging, and will continue to affect this country for generations to come.

He further stated:

Central within those calls to action are a number of calls related directly to commemoration. Those commemoration calls relate directly to the creation or establishment of a “national memory” and our ongoing need as a country to make sure we continue to shine light into the darkest corners of our history.

He went on to say, “We know there's broad support for implementing those calls to action.”

Karen Aird, president, and Madeleine Redfern, director, of the Indigenous Heritage Circle, also provided testimony.

Karen Aird stated:

...in this time, this time of reconciliation, this time when we see a new change in government, there's a need for people to start thinking differently about heritage, and moving it beyond built heritage, and thinking...how indigenous people perceive it and how we want to protect it. We do have our own mechanisms. We do have our own methods and approaches to protecting and interpreting heritage, and we feel it's really time...for indigenous people to have a voice in this.

She goes on to say, “There's a need for a voice and a place for people to have a voice.”

Ms. Lisa Prosper provided testimony. She stated:

The apparatus that we have in place—not just us, it's the heritage apparatus—is born out of a particular trajectory, and is, in my opinion, ill-equipped to currently address the context of indigenous cultural heritage.

She also stated:

...I would say that the broad objective should be to get to a place where the indigenous community sees themselves reflected back to them in what is recognized as Canadian heritage....The immediate steps are to work within existing frameworks. If the Historic Sites and Monuments Board is the vehicle by which...[this] can happen, and then therefore the recognition of important sites to commemorate, if you want, a sort of backlog of potential sites for commemoration, is a possibility, and some sort of recognition of the residential school system and various other elements that are out there.

Prior to working in politics, I was a long-time worker with Parks Canada and had the opportunity to manage a number of national historic sites. I was also involved with the commemorations program. Here are some examples.

One that I turn to is Yuquot. It is an amazing site on the west coast of Vancouver Island. It was commemorated first in 1923 as Friendly Cove. It was designated as a place discovered by James Cook in March of 1778. Yuquot or Friendly Cove is the heart of the Mowachaht/Muchalaht community from the beginning of time. It was really the heart of their social, political, and economic world. In 1985, through lobbying of the Mowachaht/Muchalaht community, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada revisited that commemoration and commemorated it for what it actually is, the heart of the Mowachaht/Muchalaht nation, and the point where the first contact with Europeans happened. This is the kind of voice that an indigenous perspective can bring to these very important conversations.

I will say that Parks Canada works with 300-plus indigenous partners and communities on the conservation, restoration, and presentation of natural and cultural spaces. All of these accomplishments reflect progress made in Canada's relationship with indigenous peoples. Despite these facts, Canada's network of historic designations reflects a rather narrow view of the past. For millennia, indigenous peoples have thrived on this land. They farmed, fished, and hunted. They established vast trade networks, and celebrated their heritage. Reconciliation involves a multi-faceted, deliberate, and ongoing process. Many call it a journey. Along the way, we must acknowledge the wrongs of the past, learn more about the diversity of our history, and work together to implement indigenous rights.

As it stands today, Canada's historic designation system is outdated. Many past designations, along with the board's composition, are rooted in this country's colonial history. We should celebrate Canada's entire past. We should tell a broader, more inclusive, and more accurate story.

This is an issue that impacts all Canadians, and we have a unique opportunity for members of this House of Commons to come together and advance the process of reconciliation. To that end, I am asking my hon. colleagues to support Bill C-374.

Historic Sites and Monuments ActPrivate Members' Business

December 13th, 2017 / 5:15 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak in support of Bill C-374, put forward by my colleague from Cloverdale—Langley City. This piece of legislation seeks to amend the Historic Sites and Monuments Act. The bill addresses call to action No. 79 from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's report, which reads:

Commemoration 79. We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Survivors, Aboriginal organizations, and the arts community, to develop a reconciliation framework for Canadian heritage and commemoration. This would include, but not be limited to: i. Amending the Historic Sites and Monuments Act to include First Nations, Inuit, and Métis representation on the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada and its Secretariat.

There are two further recommendations under the commemoration heading of the commission, but these are not discussed in this legislation.

Prior to being assigned to the indigenous and northern affairs committee, I was a member of the heritage committee for a year and a half. While the majority of the heritage committee meetings were dedicated to a media study on the impact of digital technology on print media and other media in this country, including indigenous publications and broadcasting, there were also four very interesting meetings concerning the state of Canadian museums.

My experience on the indigenous and northern affairs committee has been limited to land claims and the response of indigenous communities, including those in Saskatchewan, to the wildfires this past year. Nonetheless, it has also given me some insight into how the communities work. I believe my experiences on both the heritage and indigenous affairs committees have served me well in addressing the merits of the bill before us.

The mandate of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada is to advise the Government of Canada, through the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, on the commemoration of nationally significant aspects of Canada's history.

Following a thorough evaluation process and recommendation by the board, the minister declares the site, the event, or person of national historic significance.

In addition to handling designations of national significance, the board provides advice on the other related laws and programs.

The board comprises a representative from each province and territory, with appointments of up to five years and the possibility of additional terms. There is also the librarian and archivist of Canada, an officer of the Canadian Museum of History, and the vice-president of Parks Canada's heritage conservation and commemoration directorate, who acts as the board's secretary. Presently, quorum sits at 10.

My home province of Saskatchewan has many national historic sites, some of which are in my own backyard. A very good example is the Wanuskewin Heritage Park in Saskatoon. I have walked the land of Wanuskewin many times. It is 240 hectares and there are 19 sites that represent the active and historical society of the northern plains peoples. Six thousand years ago indigenous peoples from across the northern plains gathered there to hunt bison and gather food and herbs and to escape the winter winds.

The story of Wanuskewin is just beginning to be uncovered. Along the Trail of Discovery one will find the University of Saskatchewan hard at work at excavation sites. These sites provide clues to the daily existence of early peoples. The park also provides unique experiences such as tipi camping.

Always looking forward, the management board of the Wanuskewin park has launched a $40 million fundraising campaign called “Thundering Ahead”. In a very short time it has nearly reached its goal. I am so proud of the people on the board of the Wanuskewin Heritage Park in my city.

The renewal plan includes reintroducing interactive exhibit galleries, improving educational offerings, expanding and renovating the facility, and introducing a herd of plains bison.

All this is being done with a view to it becoming a UNESCO world heritage site. We do not have any in Saskatchewan. This would be the very first. It is a lofty goal, but it is very exciting to see a bison herd back on these plains. None of this would be happening if the Historic Sites and Monuments Board had not proclaimed Wanuskewin a national historic site.

Another national historic site in my province is our legislative building in the capital city of Regina. According to the Parks Canada directory of heritage designations website, key elements that express the heritage value of this site include the cultural landscape of the legislative building within its grounds and centred on Wascana Lake; its fine exterior masonry of Tyndall sandstone; the high quality of the materials, including stone, marble, and wood, all carved with great skill by craftsmen brought in for their expertise; the stone carving within the facades of shields; the stone carvings of allegorical figures of settlers and aboriginal people, wheat sheaves, and garlands; and its original layout and public spaces, such as the grand staircase, the skylit rotunda under the dome, and the library, galleries, and legislative chamber, with their fine finishes featuring marble, oak, and carved limestone detailing.

If any of the description bears a passing resemblance to where we sit today, it is because both the House of Commons, after the fire of 1916, and the Saskatchewan legislature were built by the same Montreal company, Peter Lyall and Sons Construction Co., and the fine craftsmen he employed both here in Ottawa and in Regina, the capital of Saskatchewan. If members have not been there, the Saskatchewan legislative building is truly a beautiful building, and I would encourage anyone to take a tour of it when in our provincial capital of Regina.

Now on to the matters at hand. There is a wonderful resource available to our members of Parliament. It is called House of Commons Procedure and Practice. I have used it many times, especially when I sponsored my own private member's bill, Bill C-241, which, sadly, was unsuccessful.

I mentioned here before that under the heading “Private Members' Business”, it states:

There is a constitutional requirement that bills proposing the expenditure of public funds must be accompanied by a Royal Recommendation, which can only be obtained from the Government and presented by a Minister. A private Member may introduce a public bill containing provisions requiring the expenditure of public funds, provided that a Royal Recommendation is obtained by a Minister before the bill is read a third time and passed.

Because Bill C-374 would require additional expenditures for the Historic Sites and Monuments Board to cover the expenses of three additional members, I wonder how this could be achieved, even for a member of the governing party. Is there a plan in place to acquire the royal recommendation before third reading? I will leave that to my colleague, the member for Cloverdale—Langley City, to answer during the question and answer period.

I would like to suggest an alternative plan, without the need for a royal recommendation, a trip to the committee, and a trip to the Senate, all of which take a great deal of time, as we know in this House. The alternative would simply mean an amendment to the composition of the board membership by including the requirement that three of the 13 provincial and territorial members be first nations, Inuit, and Métis. This could be done in relatively short order. In fact, there are two vacancies on the board right now, one in the province of Quebec and one in Yukon. I believe a third will become vacant next month, in January. I do not know if the author of Bill C-374 has given this alternative any thought.

I see that my time is up. I want to wish you, Mr. Speaker, your family, and all those in the House a merry Christmas as we take a break heading into this month and January.

Historic Sites and Monuments ActPrivate Members' Business

December 13th, 2017 / 5:25 p.m.
See context

NDP

Wayne Stetski NDP Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my friend from Cloverdale—Langley City for bringing the legislation to the House of Commons. The member and I both sat on the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development. For the past three months we studied heritage issues. Our final report from that committee was recently tabled in the House.

The committee found many concerns, including a lack of attention paid to Canada's archeological sites, limited support for the owners of heritage buildings, inconsistencies with how the federal government protected the heritage buildings it owned, and critically, there was currently no federal legislation to protect UNESCO World Heritage sites in Canada.

Of all the witness testimony we heard, perhaps the most surprising and certainly the most moving came from representatives of indigenous groups.

Mr. Ry Moran, director of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, told the committee about the neglected legacy of Canada's residential school system. He told us we did not have a program for preserving the residential schools. Nor had we considered how to commemorate the schools that still stood or the ones that had been torn down.

In my riding of Kootenay—Columbia, the St. Eugene Mission School in Cranbrook was transformed by the Ktunaxa Nation into a successful hotel, casino, and golf course resort. However, it also contains photos from its days as a residential school, and Ktunaxa guides provide tours to keep the history alive. As Mr. Moran told the committee, St. Eugene was a rare exception. In fact, while the federal government offered funding to tear down residential schools, it offered nothing to commemorate them.

Mr. Moran also told us about the residential schools graveyards. As we know, thousands of the children forced into the schools never returned home, and their whereabouts are unknown to this day. The schools buried many of those children, and there are at least 400 cemetery locations across the country. Many of them are forgotten and neglected.

It may surprise members in the House to learn that when I was a young child, my brother Greg and I attended a residential school in Chesterfield Inlet, about 500 kilometres north of Churchill on Hudson's Bay. The residential school and the Hudson's Bay store were located on one side of the inlet and our home was located on the other. We were able to go home every night, but my classmates, as young as five years old, did not. They were allowed to go home at Christmas and in the summertime. Even as a young child, I knew that not being able to go home when one was only five years old was wrong.

My sympathy for those kids back then extends to my heartfelt feelings today. We must commemorate the residential schools so we never forget a past that must never be repeated.

The committee also heard from two representatives of the Indigenous Heritage Circle, Ms. Karen Aird, the president; and Ms. Madeleine Redfern, a director. They pointed out something of which I do not believe the committee members were aware. Many of us consider heritage to refer to things like buildings and sites, but indigenous heritage may include intangibles, like laws, stories, and oral histories. It may mean a sacred place, or certain artifacts.

When we met with one of the chiefs in Jasper, he said something that really stayed with me. He said that the good Lord did not give them the written language, so their story was written on the land and that they could still find it today.

Ms. Aird said:

We feel that in this time, this time of reconciliation, this time when we see a new change in government, there's a need for people to start thinking differently about heritage, and moving it beyond built heritage, and thinking about how indigenous people perceive it and how we want to protect it. We do have our own mechanisms. We do have our own methods and approaches to protecting and interpreting heritage, and we feel it's really time now for indigenous people to have a voice in this.

Canadians saw an example of the lack of understanding of indigenous heritage and spirituality recently when the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the Jumbo Glacier in my riding of Kootenay—Columbia would not be protected from the development of a large ski resort. Jumbo Glacier is also known as Qat'muk and it is a sacred place to the Ktunaxa Nation, which knows it as the home to the Grizzly Bear Spirit. The Court ruled that a specific site or “object of beliefs" could not be protected. As a result, this important spiritual place, where the Grizzly Bear Spirit has been honoured for hundreds or even thousands of years by the Ktunaxa, is now at risk of being destroyed.

How can we solve these issues? What changes must we make, both to our thinking and to our procedures?

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission offered some solutions in its calls to action.

Mr. Moran said:

Central within those calls to action are a number of calls related directly to commemoration. Those commemoration calls relate directly to the creation or establishment of a “national memory” and our ongoing need as a country to make sure we continue to shine light into the darkest corners of our history.

Call to action 79 states:

We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Survivors, Aboriginal organizations, and the arts community, to develop a reconciliation framework for Canadian heritage and commemoration. This would include, but not be limited to:

i. Amending the Historic Sites and Monuments Act to include First Nations, Inuit, and Métis representation on the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada and its Secretariat.

This is exactly what is accomplished by Bill C-374. It goes on to state:

ii. Revising the policies, criteria, and practices of the National Program of Historical Commemoration to integrate Indigenous history, heritage values, and memory practices into Canada’s national heritage and history.

iii. Developing and implementing a national heritage plan and strategy for commemorating residential school sites, the history and legacy of residential schools, and the contributions of Aboriginal peoples to Canada’s history.

Bill C-374 responds directly to call to action 79.i. The bill would increase the number of members of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, and it would provide dedicated spaces for first nations, Inuit, and Métis representatives on the board. It would also provide the necessary financial accommodation for the additional members.

We know the bill does not address all of the sections of call to action 79, but it begins in the right place, which is ensuring there is representation on the board, so that decisions about indigenous heritage include indigenous decision-makers.

When the Truth and Reconciliation Commission first released its report in June 2015, the NDP leader at the time said, “Today, our country is trying to turn the page on the many dark years and to move forward toward a better future for all peoples.” We have the opportunity to take one step forward toward honouring the actions listed by the commission, and in doing so, we honour the past and those who suffered under this terrible past called the residential school system.

I am proud to support Bill C-374,, and have the NDP members in the House joining me in that support.

I would also like to take the opportunity to wish a merry Christmas to all those in the House who celebrate, as well as those back home in Kootenay—Columbia and across Canada.

Best wishes to all for a happy holiday season.

Historic Sites and Monuments ActPrivate Members' Business

December 13th, 2017 / 5:35 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Dan Vandal Liberal Saint Boniface—Saint Vital, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak in support of Bill C-374, an act to amend the Historic Sites and Monuments Act. Before I begin, it is important to acknowledge that we are gathered on traditional Algonquin territory.

As my hon. colleagues are aware, acknowledging the traditional territories of Indigenous peoples represents a small but significant step in reconciliation with Canada's first peoples.

My remarks today address another opportunity to advance reconciliation by ensuring indigenous peoples contribute meaningfully and openly to decisions about the designation of historic places, persons, and events.

Bill C-374 proposes to add dedicated first nations, Inuit, and Métis representation on the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada.

There is no doubt that indigenous peoples have played a key role in the history of our country. Indigenous peoples have forged important economic, cultural, and political relationships by opening up a large number of the routes on land and on navigable waters that we continue to use today.

In 1536, Jacques Cartier's crew would have died of scurvy if not for the remedy administered by the Huron people. The alliance of indigenous peoples led by Tecumseh made it possible for Great Britain to drive back the American invaders in the War of 1812.

Some of Canada's designated historic events, persons, and sites are directly linked to indigenous peoples, but we know that we can do more to recognize the full depth and the full breadth of indigenous history and the significant contributions of indigenous peoples.

While relatively few Canadians may be familiar with the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, almost all Canadians are familiar with at least one event, one person, or one site that carries a national historic significance. Since 1919, the board has served as an expert advisory body to the Government of Canada on historical matters. The board considers whether a person, event, or place has had a nationally significant impact on, or illustrates an important aspect of, Canadian history. Its recommendations have inspired the Government of Canada to formally recognize nearly 1,000 sites, 650 persons, and 400 events. The board's recommendations help to shape our national identity.

National historic designations are of profound importance to Canadians. They enable us to connect with our past and with the people, places, and events that helped shape our country. They encourage us to appreciate and understand our rich and diverse heritage. They tell their own unique history, contributing a sense of time, identity, and place to our understanding of who we are and how we came to be Canada. They are necessary to the greater story of our great country and to our understanding of Canada as a whole.

The sad truth is that indigenous people have left an indelible mark on our culture and our identity, but their contributions are not fully recognized.

Many Canadians canoe and kayak, for example. In winter, we snowshoe and toboggan down hills. Those are indigenous inventions. Many popular sports in Canada, such as lacrosse, hockey, luge, and bobsleigh have indigenous roots.

It is time to truly celebrate the many contributions of indigenous peoples to our heritage. We must recognize the full extent of the history of indigenous peoples who have lived on our land since time immemorial. Our understanding of Canada is linked to our ability to openly discuss the deep historic roots of the peoples who have lived here forever. Inviting indigenous peoples to participate directly in decisions about historic designations would allow us to enrich our collective knowledge of course, but also to foster reconciliation.

In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada stated this plainly in its report, “What we have learned: Principles of truth and reconciliation”. The report states:

Too many Canadians still do not know the history of Aboriginal peoples’ contributions to Canada, or understand that by virtue of the historical and modern Treaties negotiated by our government, we are all Treaty people. History plays an important role in reconciliation; to build for the future, Canadians must look to, and learn from, the past.

Bill C-374 responds directly to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's call to action report. The report called on Canada to amend the Historic Sites and Monuments Act to include first nations, to include Inuit, and to include Métis representation on the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada.

The board works closely with Parks Canada, and Parks Canada already prioritizes reconciliation with indigenous people through a number of strategies. The agency incorporates indigenous knowledge in its conservation and restoration programs, and promotes events and experiences involving indigenous people and cultures across national parks and national historic sites. Through this work, Parks Canada provides Canadians and visitors alike with opportunities to appreciate the role that indigenous peoples have played in our history.

The truth is that indigenous histories and cultures go far beyond canoes and herbal medicines. It is time for Canadians to open their hearts and minds to learn more about the history of this great land. The voices of indigenous peoples must be heard. Canadians take great pride in our heritage programs. They are cornerstones in the promotion of our collective national identity. Furthermore, Canadians are determined to continue on the journey toward reconciliation with indigenous peoples. Surely it is time that indigenous peoples played a more direct and meaningful role in the decisions about historical designations.

Historic Sites and Monuments ActPrivate Members' Business

December 13th, 2017 / 5:40 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Alain Rayes Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, I dedicate this speech to the thousands of survivors who spoke out during public consultations as part of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and during hearings for the national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. They have initiated this necessary dialogue. We are inspired by their strength, and we have much to learn from them.

I rise today, particularly aware of my duty as a parliamentarian, and with humility and respect, to speak in favour of Bill C-374, an act to amend the Historic Sites and Monuments Act. This bill would increase the number of members of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada to provide for first nations, Inuit, and Métis representation on the board. This bill directly addresses the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's call to action 79. It states:

79. We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Survivors, Aboriginal organizations, and the arts community, to develop a reconciliation framework for Canadian heritage and commemoration. This would include, but not be limited to:

i. Amending the Historic Sites and Monuments Act to include First Nations, Inuit, and Métis representation on the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada and its Secretariat.

The political, social, and cultural engagement of first nations, the Inuit, and the Métis is a crucial component of the management and development of historic sites and monuments. Every government should ensure that each community has a chance to improve and contribute to the country without facing any barriers or discrimination, and this measure is a step in the right direction. We can no longer determine what is historic without considering the views and opinions of the founding nations of our country.

The introduction of this bill coincides with the first Quebec hearings of the national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, which began several days ago in Maliotenam. About 50 families courageously testified. We must respond with equal courage.

The reconciliation process will take time. It will take form through concrete actions, such as the one discussed today, and through our sincere willingness to listen. We need to both hear and listen. Greater awareness will lead to greater understanding. That is how we will build a reciprocal and meaningful relationship between our peoples and our nations.

We need to begin the reconciliation process for future generations. We need to correct mistakes, rebuild bridges, and be candid about what happened. In 2007, Stephen Harper, former prime minister of Canada, recognized that the residential school system had profound and lasting effects on aboriginal cultures, heritages, and languages. As a result, the Conservative government of the time created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

From 1870 to 1996, approximately 150,000 aboriginal children were taken away from their families and sent to denominational schools as a result of a shameful policy designed to civilize first nations. Quebec had 12 federally funded residential schools. According to the Missing Children Project report, at least 3,000 aboriginal children died while attending a residential school and 30,000 of them were physically or sexually abused.

By acting as it did, the federal government of the time diminished the capacity of many former students to raise their own children properly and sealed the fate of future generations. Since then, thousands of people have testified to the cultural genocide experienced by first nations, Inuit, and Métis. Now, we are hearing testimony on the ongoing tragedy of murdered and missing indigenous women and girls.

Indigenous women are three times more likely to experience violence than other Canadian women, and they account for a disproportionate number of missing and murdered women in this country. In 2015, one-quarter of the women murdered in Canada were indigenous. Michèle Audette, a commissioner for the national inquiry, said that missing and murdered women are more than statistics. They are women who had dreams, dreams that were shattered by a society that turned a blind eye.

Now that the truth is out, the next step is reconciliation. Once all of the abuse is brought to light, we will have to rebuild bridges, make reparations, and take meaningful action. The healing process will be long and ongoing. Today we are taking one more step along that path. From now on, we will no longer speak of our national historic sites and monuments without acknowledging the words and opinions of the first inhabitants, first nations, Inuit, and Métis, who are an integral part of our country.

We are also doing this for future generations. We have a duty to educate each other. What we know about others influences how we act toward them. The abuse stems from attitudes and assumptions that fuel the impression that the other can be treated differently. It is by gaining a deeper knowledge of the roots of conflicts and their impact that we begin to understand the repercussions of the public policy decisions that we make here in Parliament. Only then do we shed our false beliefs, prejudices, and lack of education, setting up future generations to be more aware of the consequences of the mistrustful and colonial attitudes of the past. This change of mentality is necessary for reconciliation.

It is also time to begin a new chapter in the history of our beautiful and great country, Canada. It is time to prove that Canada is a prosperous and just democracy. In starting this new chapter, we must strive to build a reciprocal relationship, a rich and meaningful relationship, with the indigenous peoples.

This will take an ongoing commitment and the necessary material resources. If promises are not followed by action, we risk jeopardizing the entire reconciliation process that is being undertaken. Let us not forget that.

We have an opportunity to commit to a fresh start and to leave a legacy of new, healthy, flourishing relationships for our children and grandchildren. Let us not squander this opportunity. The challenge is great, but we must honour all those who agreed to publicly share their painful memories, those that might otherwise have been buried in the past.

Mr. Speaker, thank you for giving me the privilege of speaking to such an important issue, a privilege that I want to share with all those who were affected in the past.

Historic Sites and Monuments ActRoutine Proceedings

October 18th, 2017 / 3:20 p.m.
See context

Liberal

John Aldag Liberal Cloverdale—Langley City, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-374, An Act to amend the Historic Sites and Monuments Act (composition of the Board).

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to introduce my private member's bill, Bill C-374, an act to amend the Historic Sites and Monuments Act, composition of the Board.

The bill would add three indigenous members to the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada: one first nations member, one Inuit member, and one Métis member. It is a direct response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's call to action, No. 79(i). The bill would also updates language within the act.

Reconciliation is a responsibility of all Canadians. While significant work remains to be done, the bill is one small step toward reconciliation.

I look forward to debate and discussion with my colleagues as we advance the bill in the coming months.

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