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 (Senate), as of May 8, 2018

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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.

Votes

April 18, 2018 Passed Concurrence at report stage of Bill C-374, An Act to amend the Historic Sites and Monuments Act (composition of the Board)

Business of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

May 8th, 2018 / 10:10 a.m.
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Conservative

Mark Strahl Conservative Chilliwack—Hope, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank all members of the House for their understanding and flexibility as we adjust the schedule and voting a little in order to honour our late colleague Gordon Brown.

With that in mind, I would like to ask for unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:

That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, Bill C-374, An Act to amend the Historic Sites and Monuments Act (composition of the Board), standing in the name of the Member for Cloverdale—Langley City, be deemed read a third time and passed; Bill C-377, An Act to change the name of the electoral district of Châteauguay—Lacolle, standing in the name of the member for Châteauguay—Lacolle, be deemed concurred in at the report stage; that any recorded division requested on the motion for second reading of Bill S-218, An Act respecting Latin American Heritage Month, standing in the name of the member for Thornhill, be deferred to Wednesday, May 23, 2018, immediately before the time provided for Private Members' Business; and that the recorded division on the motion for third reading of Bill C-48, An Act respecting the regulation of vessels that transport crude oil or persistent oil to or from ports or marine installations located along British Columbia's north coast, be further deferred until the end of the time provided for Government Orders later this day.

Historic Sites and Monuments ActPrivate Members' Business

May 3rd, 2018 / 5:30 p.m.
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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 third time and passed.

Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak to 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 that we are gathered here today on the traditional land of the Algonquin people. This recognition is a small but important way in which to advance reconciliation with indigenous peoples.

Bill C-374 shares the same objective of advancing reconciliation and to ensuring that the perspectives of indigenous peoples are incorporated in our decision making processes federally. I am extremely privileged to have Bill C-374 make it to third reading in the House and thankful for cross-partisan support of this legislation.

Bill C-374 seeks to include a much-needed indigenous representation on the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada. The board, which is responsible for advising the Government of Canada through the Minister of Environment on the designation of people, places, and events of national historic significance, currently lacks formal statutorily mandated representation of indigenous peoples on its board.

The fact is that we cannot hope to accurately commemorate issues of historical significance if we do not fully include the perspectives of the first peoples of this land.

My personal motivation to put forward Bill C-374 is rooted in a career spanning more than three decades with Parks Canada. I had the opportunity to live and work with indigenous communities in a variety of settings and it helped inform my opinions about the need to do things differently with indigenous communities. When I was elected, I came across the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

In the TRC's Summary of Final Report, there is a section on commemorations which spoke quite personally to me about the need in the commemorations field to do things differently. Drawn out of this section were calls to action to change and improve upon the ways in which we commemorate our past.

Bill C-374 is specifically intended to implement call to action 79(i), which 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”, and this is the section that is covered in Bill C-374, “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 implementation of call to action 79 was also put forward by the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development. In our report, “Preserving Canada's Heritage: the Foundation for Tomorrow”, the committee recommended the implementation of several of the TRC calls to action, including 79, as reflected in our committee's 17th recommendation of the report.

Our government has made clear our support for the Truth and Reconciliation calls to action. Implementation of over two-thirds of the calls to action under federal responsibility is ongoing, and Bill C-374 continues in this spirit.

We have endorsed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, without qualification, and committed to its full implementation. This includes support for Bill C-262.

In February, the Prime Minister announced in this place the creation of a recognition and implementation of indigenous rights framework. This will ensure that the recognition and implementation of rights is the basis for all relations between indigenous peoples and the federal government going forward. To ensure the protection, preservation, and revitalization of indigenous languages in the country, we are working with first nations, Métis, and Inuit communities to co-develop an indigenous languages act.

In this spirit of indigenous language preservation, I have also worked with Senator Jaffer on a bill to designate February 21 as international mother language day. The bill has been tabled in the Senate and debate has already started on it, another small step toward reconciliation.

This week, we witnessed all-party support for a motion respecting TRC call to action 58, calling for a formal papal apology for the role of the Catholic Church in the establishment, operation, and abuses of residential schools.

These are important steps forward, but the work does not end here. Reconciliation is a complex and difficult journey that grapples with the relationship between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples. The TRC summary of the final report discussed this complexity:

To some people, reconciliation is the re-establishment of a conciliatory state. However, this is a state that many Aboriginal people assert never has existed between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. To others, reconciliation, in the context of Indian residential schools, is similar to dealing with a situation of family violence. It's about coming to terms with events of the past in a manner that overcomes conflict and establishes a respectful and healthy relationship among people, going forward. It is in the latter context that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada has approached the question of reconciliation.

To the Commission, reconciliation is about establishing and maintaining a mutually respectful relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples in this country. In order for that to happen, there has to be awareness of the past, acknowledgement of the harm that has been inflicted, atonement for the causes, and action to change behaviour.

The report goes on, and this is important in the context of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada and the changes that Bill C-374 would make. It states:

Too many Canadians know little or nothing about the the deep historical roots of these conflicts. This lack of historical knowledge has serious consequences for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples, and for Canada as a whole. In government circles, it makes for poor public policy decisions. In the public realm, it reinforces racist attitudes and fuels civic distrust between Aboriginal peoples and other Canadians.

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 would ensure that indigenous perspectives are fully incorporated into our commemorations process federally. Indigenous peoples' participation in our commemorations decision-making process will help us move beyond the colonialist and paternalistic approaches of the past and allow us to engage in a more frank and authentic manner.

This bill is not a criticism of the work of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board over the past 100 years of their existence but shows that there is a need to evolve by creating structural inclusion for indigenous perspectives in how we commemorate the persons, places, and events that are of national significance.

Our history is as messy and complex as the process of reconciliation itself. The legacy of our residential school system is a stark and tragic reminder of this. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission explored this complexity:

For Survivors who came forward at the TRC's National Events and Community Hearings, remembering their childhood often meant reliving horrific memories of abuse, hunger, and neglect. It meant dredging up painful feelings of loneliness, abandonment, and shame. Many still struggle to heal deep wounds of the past. Words fail to do justice to their courage in standing up and speaking out.

There were other memories too: of resilience; of lifetime friendships forged with classmates and teachers; of taking pride in art, music, or sports accomplishments; of becoming leaders in their communities and in the life of the nation. Survivors shared their memories with Canada and the world so that the truth could no longer be denied.Survivors also remembered so that other Canadians could learn from these hard lessons of the past. They want Canadians to know, to remember, to care, and to change.

During our heritage study at the environment committee, we heard the powerful testimony of Mr. Ry Moran, the director of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, who discussed the intricate and delicate nature of commemorating residential schools. Our report stated:

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

That includes the burial locations of the missing children.

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.

During my 32-year career with Parks Canada working with heritage spaces, I similarly encountered the often difficult nature of commemorations. I witnessed both successful and unsuccessful approaches to commemorating people, places, and events of historical significance.

I have spoken about those in the House, including the great success of retelling the story of the place of Yuquot, originally commemorated as Friendly Cove and celebrated as the first point of European contact. That location was actually the birthplace of the Nuu-chah-nulth people. The repackaging and rethinking of that designation showed it as a place of welcome by the indigenous people, who had lived there since the beginning of time, and a place of welcome to the Europeans when they arrived in Canada. It was the indigenous people's voice that helped with the retelling and reframing of that story.

I am proud that Bill C-374 has made it to third reading with unanimous support at report stage. This is a proud reflection of the non-partisan nature of reconciliation. Reconciliation is not an indigenous issue. It is truly a Canadian issue.

The success of Bill C-374 and this opportunity to advance reconciliation would not have been possible without the support of the government and a royal recommendation to deal with remuneration provisions in the bill. I am grateful to the government for supporting Bill C-374 and for granting it a royal recommendation, which is the third of its kind since 1994, to the best of my knowledge. This support reflects our government's commitment to a renewed relationship with indigenous peoples based on a recognition of rights, mutual respect, co-operation, and partnership.

The road to reconciliation is a long and difficult one, but with Bill C-374 we have the opportunity to advance this objective by improving upon the ways in which we commemorate our past. I am hopeful that all members will join me in supporting this important legislation.

Bill C-374 is poised to move to the Senate, where I am proud to have the support of Senator Murray Sinclair, who has agreed to sponsor the bill in the Senate. Members will no doubt know that Senator Sinclair has a distinguished 25-year career in the justice system and served as the chief commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. I hope members of the other place will recognize the importance of this legislation and work, as we have in this place, to continue advancing reconciliation.

I would like to thank all members for their consideration of this bill and ask for their support at third reading so this important piece of legislation can move one step closer to becoming law.

Historic Sites and Monuments ActPrivate Members' Business

May 3rd, 2018 / 5:45 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, I am so glad to be able to get in on private members' business. Given my status in this place, I am not allowed to make a speech on the bill, but I am very proud to be a seconder of this private member's bill. Bill C-374, an act to amend the Historic Sites and Monuments Act, is an important step in reconciliation. I would like to thank my friend from Cloverdale—Langley City for bringing it forward.

I wonder if my colleague would like to explain how he sees the process of selecting indigenous participation once this goes forward. I sure hope it has the support of enough members of Parliament to go forward.

Historic Sites and Monuments ActPrivate Members' Business

May 3rd, 2018 / 5:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise again in support of my colleague from Cloverdale—Langley City's Bill C-374. I would also like to add that I am very pleased with the overall support this legislation is getting from both sides of the House. It is unusual for a private member's bill to pass second reading with unanimous support.

I would be remiss if I did not recognize that we are on the traditional territory of the Algonquin people. Since we are discussing inclusion and participation of indigenous peoples on the Historic Sites and Monuments Board, I think it is very important that we recognize regularly the historic site that we are right now standing on.

Bill C-374 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. There are two further recommendations under the “Commemoration” heading that have not been discussed in this bill.

The mandate of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada is:

...to advise the Government of Canada, through the Minister of the Environment, 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, event or person on national historic significance.

It further states:

The Board is composed of a representative from each province and territory...[with] appointments of up to five years with 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 also acts as the Board’s Secretary.

Presently, quorum sits at 10. With the passage of Bill C-374, that number would rise from 10 to 13.

During the second reading debate on Bill C-374, the author and the member for Cloverdale—Langley City said this, which stuck with me:

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.

He is absolutely correct. We cannot hope to achieve reconciliation if we continue to deny portions of our history. The three additional voices representative of our indigenous population on the Historic Sites and Monuments Board will be a significant step in bringing new ideas and a fresh perspective to the board, as well as a comprehensive history going forward.

As I mentioned in my earlier remarks, my home province of Saskatchewan has many national historic sites, some of which are in my community of Saskatoon. I spoke about the Wanuskewin Heritage Park, and I believe it is worth repeating here today that on that 240 hectares there are 19 sites that represent both the active and the historical society of northern plains people. Six thousand years ago, indigenous peoples from across the northern plains gathered there to hunt bison, gather food and herbs, and escape the winter winds. The story of Wanuskewin is just beginning to be uncovered in my home province of Saskatchewan.

Another fine example of a national historic site in my own backyard is the Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park and Zoo. The area called the Sutherland Forest Nursery Station played a vital role in the settlement and development of the Prairies from the years 1913 to 1966. Shipping 147 million trees over that span of 50 years, the nursery supplied the northern part of the prairie provinces with an abundance of ash, along with maple, elm, and willow.

When the nursery was closed, a portion of the site was reopened as the Forestry Farm and Park by the City of Saskatoon in 1966. Designated a national historic site, the forestry farm continues to strengthen the roots of our community, while providing an awe-inspiring landscape for the park and zoo. The zoo is home to 300 animals, including two mobs of meerkats.

Another national historic site right in our province would be the legislative building in Regina. I spoke about that earlier in my remarks. I also mentioned its resemblance to where we are right now. Both buildings were built by the same Montreal company, Peter Lyall and Sons Construction Co. Ltd., and the fine craftsmen he employed back then, not only for the city of Regina's legislative building but the House of Commons in Ottawa. Both buildings are truly beautiful.

I know we are going to have at least a 10-year shutdown of the House of Commons to refurbish it, but I encourage anyone visiting Ottawa or Regina to tour them quickly and get to know two of our most beautiful sites in the country.

I have served on the Canadian heritage committee, and I currently sit on the indigenous and northern affairs committee. My experience on both committees, along with the opportunity recently to tour communities in Nunavut with Senator Dennis Patterson for a week this spring, have given me a pretty good perspective on what we can do to bring a much more inclusive attitude to our non-indigenous population.

Historic Sites and Monuments ActPrivate Members' Business

May 3rd, 2018 / 5:55 p.m.
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NDP

Wayne Stetski NDP Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise for the third time to speak in favour of Bill C-374. Once again, I would like to extend my compliments and gratitude to the member for Cloverdale—Langley City for his work bringing this important piece of legislation to the floor of the House.

When that member and I listened to witnesses speak to the Standing Committee on the Environment and Climate Change regarding issues of national heritage, we learned that our treatment of indigenous heritage has been severely lacking, consistent with much of our treatment of indigenous peoples. The committee heard that the federal government offers funding to tear down former residential school sites, but no funding to preserve them. That is a shocking disregard of an important, though dark, time in Canada's history.

To quote Ry Moran, director of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, when speaking of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report's calls to action:

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.

We are fortunate in my riding of Kootenay—Columbia that the former St. Eugene Mission residential school has been converted to a hotel, visitor centre, casino, and golf course operated by the Ktunaxa Nation Council. Visitors to the centre can take a tour to learn the grim history of the building. We almost lost this important building. The first idea was to tear it down, and of course we know how much anger many indigenous people have toward residential schools. The plans were well under way when one of the Ktunaxa elders came forward and said that we needed to stop the demolition, that we needed to take a dark piece of their history and turn it into a positive future. It is a good thing we did. It is a magnificent resort.

In my riding, first nations bands include the Aq'am, whose chief is Joe Pierre, Jr. The name of the band means “deep dense woods”. There is the Akisqnuk, led by Chief Alfred Joseph. The band name means “place of two lakes”. Chief Mary Mahseelah leads the Tobacco Plains Band, which is also known as Akan'kunik, meaning the “people of the place of the flying head. Chief Michael “Jason” Louie leads the Yaqan Nukiy, meaning “where the rock stands”, otherwise known as the Lower Kootenay Band. They are all members of the Ktunaxa peoples.

I would be remiss if I did not mention one other Ktunaxa leader, Chief Sophie Pierre. Chief Sophie Pierre served on the council of the St. Mary's Indian Band, now known as Aq'am, of the Ktunaxa Nation for 30 years, 26 of them as chief. She is a recipient of the Order of Canada, the Order of British Columbia, and the National Aboriginal Achievement Award, as well as two honorary doctorates of law, from the University of British Columbia and the University of Canada West.

To the north, the Shuswap Indian Band is led by Chief Barbara Cote. Shuswap is derived from a phrase that means the “trout children”. Chief Wayne Christian leads the Splatsin Band Council, also part of the Shuswap people. Splatsin is a Salish word that may mean “meadow flat”. The Shuswap tribe is thought to be a related but distinct people from the Ktunaxa.

I bring them up because they are all great leaders who would make great additions to fill a seat on the Historic Sites and Monuments Board once this act is passed. I say this because the histories of these people are interesting and they are important, yet we spend little time and less money on indigenous history because we do not fully understand it or appreciate it. That is why one of the calls to action in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's report was 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. Of course, Bill C-374 would fulfill this call to action.

The Historic Sites and Monuments Board's mandate, according to its website is:

...to advise the Government of Canada, through the Minister of the Environment, 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, event or person of national historic significance.

That is, the board members evaluate the importance of sites and monuments and decide whether they are significant enough to merit federal protection and support. Currently, the Directory of Federal Heritage Designations includes 3,613 sites and monuments across Canada.

It is difficult to tell how many of those are dedicated to indigenous sites, because often the site will have a name that appears to be related to first nations, Inuit, or Métis, but the site itself is only recognized because of its relationship to the development of our country by Europeans. That is simply unacceptable, and we need to do better. Only by including indigenous people in our decision-making can we expect that their cultural, spiritual, and historic places, activities, and beliefs will be properly respected and honoured. This is precisely what Bill C-374 hopes to achieve. In the context of the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the evidence presented to our committee, passage of this very fundamental bill makes tremendous sense.

Bill C-374also improves the board's composition to ensure that all members have the knowledge and experience that will assist with the business of the board.

As pleased as I am and as hopeful as I am, I have serious concerns that government is slow to accept the critical importance of indigenous history and culture.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission issued 94 calls to action. They were grouped into categories of child welfare, education, language and culture, health, and justice. I am proud to say that earlier this week the House supported one of those calls to action in a resolution moved by my colleague, the member for Timmins—James Bay.

That resolution said in part that in responding to the call of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to move our nation on a path of true healing for the crimes of the residential school era, the House “...invite Pope Francis to participate in this journey with Canadians by responding to call to action 58 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's report and issue a formal papal apology for the role of the Canadian Catholic Church in the establishment, operations, and abuses of the residential schools”.

According to the CBC, as of March 2018 only 10 of the calls to action had been completed. Bill C-374, if passed, would be number 11 of 94. I congratulate my friend across the floor for bringing this piece of legislation forward. Bill C-374 would advance our nation-to-nation relationship with indigenous people while providing opportunities to preserve critical heritage that we can all learn from.

I look forward to seeing the passage of this important bill. It is a positive step forward for heritage in Canada, but there is much more to do.

Historic Sites and Monuments ActPrivate Members' Business

May 3rd, 2018 / 6 p.m.
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Thunder Bay—Rainy River Ontario

Liberal

Don Rusnak LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indigenous Services

Madam Speaker, I stand today to express the support of our government for Bill C-374,, an act to amend the Historic Sites and Monuments Act, composition of the Board.

I begin by acknowledging that our debate today takes place on the traditional territory of the Algonquin people. As my hon. colleagues recognize, acknowledging the traditional territories of indigenous peoples represents a small but significant step in our journey towards reconciliation.

The legislation now before us proposes to take another step in this journey by improving the way that Canada commemorates the persons, places, and events that have shaped Canada's history since time immemorial. I commend my colleague, the hon. member for Cloverdale—Langley City, for bringing this private member's bill forward. I believe this is only the third time ever that a private member's bill has received royal recommendation, and it is a testament to my colleague's hard work that the bill received unanimous support from this chamber in the report stage vote.

For my colleagues to fully appreciate the context of Bill C-374, it is important to note that the Historic Sites and Monuments Act was first proposed in a Speech from the Throne in November 1952 to give a statutory basis to the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, which had been established in 1919. The act was put forward in response to recommendations in the Massey Commission report of 1951. The bill received royal assent in 1953.

The mandate of the minister responsible for Parks Canada includes deciding which sites, events, or persons are commemorated for their national historic significance. To help make these decisions, the minister relies on the recommendations of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada.

The current board includes a representative from each province and territory and one representative from Library and Archives Canada, the Canadian Museum of History, and Parks Canada.

Under the proposed legislation, the composition of the board will now include one representative each for first nations, Inuit, and Métis. To appreciate the impact of this change, it is important to have an understanding of how the board operates.

The board's main role is to receive and analyze nominations for historic designations. Each year, the board receives about two dozen nominations from members of the public, community groups, and other organizations. The vast majority of official designations originate with nominations sent in by the public, which reflects the interest of Canadians in the history of this land.

The board meets about twice a year to review nominations and make recommendations to the minister as to whether a subject merits designation. In making their recommendations, the board considers whether a person, place, or event has had a nationally significant impact on Canada's history, or illustrates a nationally significant aspect of our history. In virtually all cases, my predecessors and I have accepted the board's recommendations.

Once an official national historic designation is bestowed, Parks Canada organizes a ceremony, and installs and maintains the bronze plaque, which is the usual form of commemoration. This process serves Canadians well.

Today, our country's network of heritage designations includes nearly 1,000 sites, 700 persons, and 500 events. Canadians and visitors to our country appreciate these designations because each one represents one part of the larger stories of Canada. They honour our roots and accomplishments. They reckon with darker chapters of our history. They also describe our aspirations: how we have seen ourselves in the past, how we see ourselves in the present, and how we want to be seen in the future.

In this way, they link past, present, and future. This idea is particularly relevant at a time when so many Canadians are re-thinking the country's relationship with indigenous peoples. For millennia, indigenous peoples thrived in communities across the landscape we now call Canada.

Since the arrival of Europeans a few centuries ago, much of this history has been either ignored or downplayed. There can be no doubt that indigenous peoples have made and continue to make important contributions to the country. Yet, if one were to travel across the country and visit every historical plaque or historic site, I am confident that person would get an extremely limited sense of the history and contributions of indigenous peoples in the country.

The simple truth, of course, is that Canada's network of historic designations reflects a rather narrow view of the past, a view rooted in our colonial history. In recent years, however, Canadians have begun to take a more critical view of our history. Many now recognize that indigenous peoples have long been prevented from participating equally in and contributing fully to this country's prosperity. We must change this sad reality to unlock Canada's full potential. Through reconciliation, I am confident we can achieve this goal.

Our government is committed to achieving reconciliation with indigenous people based on the recognition of rights and through mutual respect, co-operation, and partnership. Reconciliation involves a multi-faceted, deliberate, and ongoing process—a journey. That is why our government is committed to implementing the 94 calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission helped to educate Canadians about Indian residential schools and to raise awareness of how past policies continue to harm this country today.

Budget 2018 proposes to provide $23.9 million over five years, starting this fiscal year, to implement call to action 79, regarding the commemoration of heritage in Canada. The funding will support the integration of indigenous views, history, and heritage in the heritage places and programs managed by Parks Canada.

The legislation now before us is an essential step in the journey to implement call to action 79 by establishing ongoing first nation, Inuit, and Métis representation on the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada. Along the way, we must acknowledge the wrongs of the past, learn more from our history, and work together to implement indigenous rights. Bill C-374 is a step in that direction in the area of historical commemoration.

The Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development reviewed Bill C-374 and endorsed the proposed legislation with a series of technical amendments. The amendments clarify a few points about expenses incurred by board members and the expertise of board candidates. I am convinced that these amendments would strengthen the bill and serve the best interests of Canadians.

I expect that every person here today supports reconciliation with indigenous peoples, but I am convinced that we will make little progress toward this goal until we critically re-examine our history and take stock of the stories we have told and those we have not.

The Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada plays an essential role in the commemoration of our history. The inclusion of indigenous peoples and indigenous representation on the board would help us bring greater perspective to the telling of the stories of Canada and foster reconciliation with indigenous peoples across this land. For these reasons, I urge all members of the House to endorse Bill C-374 at third reading.

Meegwetch.

Historic Sites and Monuments ActPrivate Members' Business

May 3rd, 2018 / 6:10 p.m.
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Liberal

John Aldag Liberal Cloverdale—Langley City, BC

Madam Speaker, I would like to close by once again thanking all members for their contributions to and consideration of this important bill. I would also like to take a brief moment to recognize and thank Kyle Harrietha for his support, guidance, and hard work in helping get Bill C-374 to this crucial stage.

I also thank the indigenous caucus for its valuable input and support for Bill C-374. No relationship is more important to our government and to Canadians than the one with indigenous peoples, and support for Bill C-374 is a proud reflection of that. I thank the Prime Minister for his leadership toward reconciliation and his support for implementing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action, including item 79(i) covered in Bill C-374.

In closing, I humbly ask all members on both sides of the House for their support of Bill C-374 at third reading. This bill offers us, as parliamentarians, the opportunities to advance reconciliation with indigenous peoples, and I am hopeful that it will receive the full support of this House.

Environment and Sustainable DevelopmentCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

March 2nd, 2018 / 12:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Deb Schulte Liberal King—Vaughan, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the following two reports of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development: the 12th report, which relates to supplementary estimates (C), 2017-18, and the 13th report, which relates to interim estimates 2018-19.

I am also presenting, in both official languages, the 14th report of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, in relation to Bill C-374, an act to amend the Historic Sites and Monuments Act (composition of the board). The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House with amendments.

Historic Sites and Monuments ActPrivate Members' Business

February 26th, 2018 / 11:05 a.m.
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Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am certainly honoured to stand in this place today to speak to Bill C-374, an act to amend the Historic Sites and Monuments Act. I know that the bill has its inspiration in a very practical call to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It is from recommendation 79, which reads:

We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Survivors, Aboriginal organizations, and the arts community, to develop a reconciliation framework for Canadian heritage in 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.

Currently the board consists of one representative from each of our provinces and territories but no formal representation from indigenous peoples or organizations. This would add three more seats to the table: one for first nations, one for Métis, and one for Inuit.

I know from my colleague on the opposite side of the House that this issue is very near and dear to his heart. We all bring our life experiences to our work in this chamber in making decisions on behalf of our constituents and all Canadians. For him, it is over 30 years at Parks Canada, including the last 10 with historic sites. He saw the need to increase the voices of Canadians in making, frankly, very important and challenging decisions about which places to protect, which individuals to promote, and which stories to preserve for future generations.

I agree that this is a significant, practical step toward long-term reconciliation. That is why I am looking forward to supporting my colleague's private member's bill. I want to congratulate him and his team for bringing it before us today.

l will take a moment to talk about a project I undertook over the past year. I wanted to find an appropriate way to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Canada's Confederation in my riding of Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo. I know that for many indigenous peoples, it was something they were somewhat hesitant to celebrate, but we wanted to make sure that we had an inclusive conversation.

With my team, we decided that we wanted to recognize 50 people, 50 places, and 50 events across our communities. Among these, I explored the trails near the ice caves on Bridge Lake, known to local first nations as the entrance to the bear world. I will not try to pronounce the indigenous word, because it is not up to the standard that would be expected.

I watched the unveiling of stunning totem poles carved by local artist Jerome Boyce. I visited the Secwepemc Museum and Heritage Park. This is situated along the South Thompson River in a building that was once the Kamloops Indian Residential School, where first nations children were taken after they were removed from their homes, their families, and their culture. I welcome my colleagues to visit that area with me when they are in Kamloops.

For me, the Secwepemc site symbolizes that not all Canadians have had the opportunity for their history to be celebrated, and this is a key area where the Historic Sites and Monuments Board could do good work.

We are at a pivotal time. Communities across the country are struggling with challenging questions of what to do with the awkward, messy, painful parts of our history. They are looking at statues, at plaques, and at other memorials that have for many years been at the centre of our communities. There are serious questions. How do we commemorate the accomplishments of men and women while learning from their failures? How do we recognize that Canada's history, and its very creation, was shaped by imperfect people?

One hundred and fifty years of Canadian history have passed, and now is the opportunity to chart a path forward for the next 150 years. Part of that, I believe, is ensuring that there are more voices at the table to make these vital decisions. There is definitely reason for hope.

The Historic Sites and Monuments Board has evolved several times since its genesis in 1919. I would like to point out that there are currently, I believe, six female members of the board, but for the last 30 years, it typically consisted of white men of European descent, as was typical for that period. It certainly could be argued that the merits of national commemoration of individuals and locations came from that vantage point.

We have come a long way since then, and now we are looking to add voices specifically from indigenous peoples, voices that could help provide a more complete picture of the journey Canada has taken: the moments to celebrate and the failures from which to learn. Commemorating and recognizing the history of Canada's indigenous peoples is a key step along the road of reconciliation, and that is why the TRC made it part of its calls to action.

I was very proud to be a member of the former Conservative government when the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was created. I stood in the room and listened to former prime minister Stephen Harper's powerful apology on behalf of the government. Actually, I was not quite elected yet, but I certainly watched. I did not stand in this room, but I was certainly profoundly impacted, like so many others.

I heard, too, the apology for Canada's relocation of Inuit families to the high Arctic and the honouring of all Métis veterans at Juno Beach. As I said in this place on February 14, “The contributions and challenges of Canada's indigenous peoples were, and must continue to be, recognized and addressed.”

This is just a small step. Much more work will need to be done. We firmly believe that economic reconciliation must be part of this journey. Governments at all levels and private businesses can empower indigenous communities to share in the wealth Canada is so capable of creating for its citizens. Conservatives can and will urge the government in its consultations to consider what impediments exist to the financial success of indigenous communities and how they can be removed. That would ensure long-term prosperity rather than continued reliance on short-term solutions. It is in this way that the horrific poverty so pervasive in this country can be reduced.

We know that there were a number of calls to action put forward as part of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. We have made a good journey toward many of them. I know that the government indicated that it was going to implement all 94 calls to action. One of my concerns is that the Liberals have never really come out with a costed plan that indicates what the implementation will be and what the impacts will be. I still wait for a more comprehensive look at how they have analyzed those 94 calls to action and what the impacts will be, what laws will have to change, and what the financial implications will be. Certainly there are many of them that we, as Conservatives, on this side of the House are very pleased to support. The private member's bill that has been put forward is a welcome and good step in the right direction, and I would again like to congratulate the member.

Historic Sites and Monuments ActPrivate Members' Business

February 26th, 2018 / 11:10 a.m.
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NDP

Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am thrilled to rise today to speak to Bill C-374, which would amend the Historic Sites and Monuments Act to create three new Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada positions, thereby providing for first nations, Inuit, and Métis representation on the board.

This subject is of tremendous importance to me. When I was re-elected, our oath of allegiance was changed to reflect this. Although many people find it odd that we still swear allegiance to Queen Elizabeth II, we nevertheless added a sentence to the oath about how, in carrying out our duties, we will honour and respect the treaties signed with first nations. That was particularly important to me because, as a proud Quebec nationalist, I am acutely aware of some of our gravest misconceptions about this country.

Although I am very proud of NDP members across Canada who chose to recognize the 1982 repatriation of the Constitution as a historical error that violated Quebec's rights, I can also certainly understand the perspective of first nations representatives who feel that their rights were ignored.

We are living in very interesting times, both politically and socially. Many things are no longer considered acceptable. As I myself have had the privilege of attending one of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings, with the member for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, I truly appreciate how urgently these changes are needed.

There is nothing more fundamental in a society than its heritage, including its historic sites and the significance attached to them. Adding these three additional representatives to the board is just common sense. Looking at the bill, one has to wonder why this was not done sooner. When was the tipping point finally reached? Was it two years ago or 12 years ago? In any case, our colleague's bill can only be commended at this point, and I know the NDP fully supports it. We think it is quite obvious that the bill should be supported. It is the right thing to do for our friends, with whom we share so much.

I think it is a great idea for the Historic Sites and Monuments Board to embrace the first nations' belief that we need to recognize more than just physical sites. We must also recognize places where people have had significant or important experiences, whether they are natural sites or built heritage. Accordingly, I am delighted that our colleague's initiative in sponsoring Bill C-374 has been exceptionally well received by all stakeholders aware of the issues and injustices that need to be fixed. One person who comes to mind is Karen Aird of the Indigenous Heritage Circle, who had this to say:

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.

I would also like to quote Mr. Sinclair, of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation:

the [Truth and Reconciliation Commission] has described the mountain, the calls to action issued by the TRC represent the path to the top. The Calls to Action represent the synthesis of one of the largest engagement sessions with indigenous peoples in the history of the country. We must understand these calls as the articulation of the collective voices of thousands upon thousands of Survivors, families and communities across the Country.

Central in the work of reconciliation is this is the recognition that Canada, as a nation, has not accurately or effectively portrayed the perspectives of indigenous peoples in the telling of our collective history. So long as this continues, Canadians and visitors to this country will be prevented from knowing not only who we were, but will be denied an understanding of what we can become.

Including indigenous perspectives and histories in commemorating national historic sites is paramount. Ensuring there is a clear strategy to commemorate and honour community perspectives on the residential schools is in our national interest.

Through these collective steps, we have the potential to tell a much more accurate, richer and honest story of who we are and where we are going.

For these, and many other reasons, we offer our full support for this bill and encourage all parliamentarians to do the same.

At a time when many things are being challenged, when many foundations are being rocked by shifting paradigms, I am proud to say that this Friday I will be using some of my constituency time to visit the community of Kahnawake in a neighbouring riding. This community is part of the greater Montérégie area and lies on the fringes of Montreal's south shore.

It is crucial that we recharge and reconnect with the first nations. I urge all of my colleagues to attend the Secret Path screening being held somewhere in this building this evening.

I call on all of us, as Quebeckers and Canadians of unquestionably mixed origins, perhaps because of the French regime, to discover the roots that we share, either by blood or by spirit, with the first nations.

On June 21, I got to attend the summer solstice ceremony on Victoria Island with Dominique Rankin and an elder who lit a fire. Moments like these make us realize that what these people care about is not buildings, or stained glass windows, or statues. What they care about is the fundamental principle behind these places and these activities.

As vice-chair of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, I consider it a privilege to acknowledge how relevant this private member's bill is. I also want to acknowledge how enthusiastically the NDP stands behind this bill. Naturally, we support this initiative, and we hope to see as much concrete and immediate action taken as possible.

Everyone saw these images over the weekend. We need action, and we are taking parliamentary action here. I am keeping my fingers crossed. I urge the government and all parliamentarians to support concrete action to make this bill a reality.

Once we have a board that will establish what we deem to be part of the official heritage of this country, first nations, Inuit, and Métis people will be able to express their views in an atmosphere of full respect and equality.

Historic Sites and Monuments ActPrivate Members' Business

February 26th, 2018 / 11:20 a.m.
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North Vancouver B.C.

Liberal

Jonathan Wilkinson LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to participate in this important debate regarding Bill C-374, an act to amend the Historic Sites and Monuments Act.

I preface my remarks with an acknowledgement that we are on the traditional territory of the Algonquin and Anishinaabe peoples. Acknowledgements such as this are increasingly common today, as more and more Canadians recognize that indigenous peoples have been marginalized for far too long in this country. Bill C-374 proposes a tangible way to address this problem by legislating first nations, Métis, and Inuit representation on the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, which recommends which historic places, persons, and events receive official designation to the minister responsible for Parks Canada.

I salute my colleague, the hon. member for Cloverdale—Langley City, for championing Bill C-374, and I am pleased to say that the Government of Canada will support this bill with amendments that would strengthen the legislation now before us.

To date, nearly 1,000 sites, 700 people, and 500 events have been given national historic designation. Behind every designation there is a story that is part of Canada's broader history. Canada's network of historic sites helps define us as a country.

The important role that indigenous peoples have played and continue to play in Canada has consistently been ignored or downplayed. As a result, most Canadians are not aware of indigenous history in the way that they should be. This is precisely why the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, led by Senator Murray Sinclair, called for a concerted effort to educate Canadians about indigenous history.

Among the commission's 94 calls to action are more than a dozen specific appeals for greater education about the history of indigenous peoples in Canada. Call to action 79 addresses the lack of indigenous representation on the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada. Private Members' Bill C-374 responds directly to this call to action.

Since its establishment in 1919, the board has played a central role in this country's official historic designations. Ensuring additional first nations, Métis, and Inuit representation on the board will help in the long process to promote recognition and understanding of the history of indigenous peoples, and the important contributions they have made to Canada and their nations.

Under the current Historic Sites and Monuments Act, the board is comprised of 16 members. They include a representative from each province and territory, the librarian and archivist of Canada, and representatives from the Canadian Museum of History and Parks Canada.

Bill C-374 would authorize three additional representatives, for first nations, Inuit, and Métis, alongside existing provincial and territorial representation. By modernizing the board in this way, Canada would take one more step towards reconciliation with indigenous peoples.

For my colleagues to fully appreciate the context of Bill C-374, it is important to note that the Historic Sites and Monuments Act was first proposed in a Speech from the Throne in November 1952, to give a statutory basis to the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada in response to recommendations in the Massey commission report of 1951. To say that the government at the time paid little attention to indigenous history would be an understatement, given the history of assimilationist policy in Canada.

There have been many attempts by the board over the years to look in a serious way at indigenous history, but there have always been issues in reconciling the history with the existing narratives in the commemoration of Canada's history. I believe that can be partly attributed to the fact there has never been a legislative requirement for indigenous representation on the board.

Launched in 2000 by the then Canadian heritage minister, Sheila Copps, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada and Parks Canada created the new commemorations initiative, one of the most effective programs for improving the representation of groups identified as under-represented within the national historic designation system. The purpose of the initiative was to enhance awareness of the history of indigenous peoples, women, and ethnocultural communities.

Before coming to a close in 2011, the initiative had a significant and positive impact on Canada's network of national historic sites, people, and events. The number of official designations for women and ethnocultural groups, for example, increased by 81% and 112% respectively. The number of official designations relating to the history of indigenous peoples increased by 31%.

The board, with the support of Parks Canada, continues to take steps to broaden the representation of indigenous peoples and historic designations. The text on many plaques, for instance, has been revised to more appropriately reflect indigenous perspectives on history. In some cases, indigenous language text has been added. However, these efforts are not enough to fill the gap. With indigenous representation, the board will be better able to include indigenous history and heritage values in the designation and commemoration process.

A report published in December by the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development reached the same conclusion. To quote from the report, “Preserving Canada's Heritage: the Foundation for Tomorrow”, it states, “Indigenous peoples must be included on the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada so that the Board integrates Indigenous history, heritage values and memory practices into Canada’s national heritage and history.”

With respect to the amendments I mentioned earlier, we will propose to amend Bill C-374 to ensure that the text of the bill aligns more closely with the wording of call to action 79. Three other proposed amendments would further strengthen Bill C-374. One would clarify that the board can comprise up to 19 members. Two other amendments address matters related to expenses for board-related travel, accommodation, and for administrative and clerical work. With the proposed amendments, Bill C-374 would allow us to take another step toward reconciliation with indigenous peoples and implementing the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

More than ever before, Canadians appreciate the relationship between the policies of past governments and the current circumstances of indigenous peoples. Canadians believe in justice. They believe that indigenous peoples should be able to participate equally and contribute fully to the commemoration of our shared history. This is part of what reconciliation is all about. The passage of Bill C-374 is only one step in the work required, as in order to fully implement call to action 79, we also need to revise 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.

The time has come to modernize the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada in keeping with the recommendation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The legislation now before us from the member for Cloverdale—Langley City, along with the amendments I have outlined, will help to continue Canada's path toward reconciliation with indigenous peoples. I encourage my hon. colleagues to join me and support Bill C-374.

Historic Sites and Monuments ActPrivate Members' Business

February 26th, 2018 / 11:25 a.m.
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Conservative

Jim Eglinski Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to speak in support of Bill C-374, which seeks to update and amend the Historic Sites and Monuments Act. Specifically, it is a direct response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's call to action 79, which calls on the government to include first nations, Inuit, and Métis representation on the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada.

The Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada has been mandated to provide advice to the Canadian government on the designation of places, persons, and events that have marked and shaped Canada. Every year, new subjects are added to the list of designations, which the board considers.

National historic sites are organized according to five broad themes: peopling the land, governing Canada, developing economies, building social and community life, and expressing intellectual and cultural life. These sites represent significant stages in the development of Canada, symbolize cultural traditions, and recognize meaningful people and locations of national historic significance.

As of 2018, there are 171 national historic sites administered by Parks Canada. The remainder are administered or owned by other levels of government or private entities. The sites are located across all 10 provinces and three territories. There are even two sites located in France, the Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial and the Canadian National Vimy Memorial.

I have been very fortunate to have visited nearly half of Canada's historic sites, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and north to the Arctic Ocean. It is one of the pleasures in life that I treasure, and I hope to work toward the other half in my lifetime.

I had the pleasure of serving with the member for Cloverdale—Langley City on the environment and sustainable development committee for a year and a half. During that time, we heard from indigenous people from across the country on issues relating to the environment, sustainable development, and the use of their land. They have been on these lands for thousands of years, and they have a lot of knowledge and history to share with us.

In my own riding, I have a number of historic sites, almost all of which are related to the exploration of western Canada. These sites include the Rocky Mountain House, Jasper House, Yellowhead Pass, and Athabasca Pass.

In September, I attended the plaque unveiling of the Maligne Lake Chalet and Guest House in Jasper National Park. This is one of Canada's newest historic sites. Also in attendance was a representative of the Big Horn Stoney Nation, as well as the great-niece of explorer Fred Brewster. In 1908, members of the Stoney Nation drew a map by hand for explorer Mary Schaffer that led her to Maligne Lake in the Rocky Mountains near Jasper. Later, Fred Brewster built a chalet to lodge travellers who wanted to experience the great beauty the region has to offer. The site represents a century of shared history between explorers and the indigenous people in the region. In fact, the majority of national historic sites in Alberta, and many more across Canada, have their roots in the interaction between explorers and indigenous peoples. Indigenous involvement is an important component in the management and development of establishing historic sites and monuments in Canada.

When I lived in Fort St. James, British Columbia, I was privy to watching the opening of the new interpretive centre at Fort St. James National Historic Site, a former Hudson's Bay Company fur trading post. The site was recognized as a historic site while Hudson's Bay Company still operated it as a fur trading centre, up until 1952. In the wisdom of Parks Canada, it now rents out the old Hudson's Bay Company manager's home as a bed and breakfast. What a great way for Canadians to experience what it was like to live in the past. The site is located right next door to the Nak'azdli First Nation reserve, where I have many friends.

That is why I support the bill, which would ensure that first nations, Métis, and Inuit communities are represented on the National Historic Sites and Monuments Board.

I do have a concern with the bill that I know has been shared by my colleagues. Adding three members to the board would require additional government expenditures. This is something that cannot be done by a private member's bill without a royal recommendation. Mr. Speaker, I understand that you also expressed concern over this issue on November 22.

As far as I am aware, the member for Cloverdale-Langley City has not requested a royal recommendation. According to his comments on December 13, he is hoping to deal with this specific issue at the committee stage. In recognition of this, I want to support the suggestion from the member for Saskatoon—Grasswood to amend the bill to keep the number of members on the board the same and require that three of those members be first nations, Inuit, and Métis. This would eliminate the need to increase expenditures, and therefore eliminate the need to obtain a royal recommendation, while ensuring that there is representation from indigenous Canadians on the board. This could be done relatively easily.

We all know that this year, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Northwest Territories, and Ontario will all have vacant seats. All these vacancies are opportunities to appoint indigenous Canadians to the board and fulfill call to action 79 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The final report of the TRC helped to explain this dark chapter in Canadian history, and the calls to action advance the process of reconciliation.

In the wake of the commission's work, it is important that the Government of Canada continue to work toward meaningful reconciliation. This bill is a step in that direction.

I want to thank the member for Cloverdale-Langley City for bringing this bill forward. I look forward to hearing how he plans on resolving some of the concerns that have been raised today.

I see I have a couple of minutes.

I had the great privilege, as the mayor of Fort St. John, to build an international monument on the side of the Alaska Highway near Charlie Lake. We built that monument when we heard the sad and very tragic story of 12 United States soldiers who lost their lives in 1942. There were 17 of them on a barge going across Charlie Lake, a lake just outside of the city of Fort St. John, and bad weather overcame them. The barge was swamped and went down with all 17 people. A local trapper, who lived on the shores of the lake at that time, saw the tragedy happen. He rowed out there and managed to save five of them. Some drowned as he was trying to get them back to shore, as they were hanging onto his boat in the cold, freezing water in April.

We contacted the U.S. government, and a bunch of us from the community of Fort St. John got together and built a monument to recognize those 12 heroes who lost their lives trying to build a highway to protect Canada and the United States. The monument sits at the edge of the lake. When one looks through a window in the monument it is possible to see where the boat went down on the horizon.

It is important to recognize historic events in Canada. I am glad the hon. member brought this bill forward.

Historic Sites and Monuments ActPrivate Members' Business

February 26th, 2018 / 11:35 a.m.
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Liberal

Robert-Falcon Ouellette Liberal Winnipeg Centre, MB

[Member spoke in aboriginal language]

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to rise in the House today to debate Bill C-374, an act to amend the Historic Sites and Monuments Act, and to be doing so on Algonquin territory.

I fully support Bill C-374, which was introduced by my friend, the member for Cloverdale—Langley City, especially with the addition of a few amendments proposed by the Government of Canada. Bill C-374 will modernize the membership and the operational activities of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada and provide for first nations, Inuit, and Métis representation on the board.

The proposed legislation represents an important step in Canada's journey towards reconciliation with indigenous peoples. The amendments proposed by the government will improve the original version of the private member's bill in a few important ways, for example by clarifying that the board may include up to 19 members, modernizing the language dealing with board members' expenses, and ensuring that the bill is more in keeping with call to action 79 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Bill C-374 is based on a number of fundamental facts. Canada is a progressive country, and Canadians are people of principle who care about Canada's history, our nation, and the way it is commemorated. Canada and our attitude toward commemoration continue to evolve. Therefore, it only makes sense that a mechanism such as the board should evolve as well.

About a century ago, Canada established an advisory board on the conservation of national historic sites. One of the first official measures taken by that board was to adopt its current official name, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada. The six members of the board then began identifying the most significant historic sites in the country and recognizing their importance with bronze plaques mounted on stone cairns. Some of those cairns still exist today.

In 1953, the Historic Sites and Monuments Act gave the board the legal authority to carry out its duties. The board's role of advising the government on historical issues has evolved since then. Today, the board advises the government on the designation of people, places, and events of national historic significance, on the designation and conservation of heritage railway stations and lighthouses, and on the preservation and commemoration of the grave sites of Canadian prime ministers.

Today, Canada's network of national heritage designations encompasses nearly 1,000 sites, 700 persons, and 500 events. This network celebrates our rich and varied heritage and provides opportunities for Canadians and other visitors to learn more about this land we call home. Each designation recounts a unique chapter of Canada's history and gives a temporal, geographic, and identity-based perspective to our country's larger story. Together, these designations show who we are, we we have done, and, in some cases, what we have lost along the way. These designations ultimately help people connect the past to the present and to think about the future.

I am proud to say that public nominations drive the commemoration process. Members of the public submit most of the subjects examined by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada. The participation of Canadians is important. The board carefully examines every nomination and often conducts additional research. The board currently has 16 members: one representative from each province and territory, one representative from the Canadian Museum of History, one representative from Parks Canada, and the Librarian and Archivist of Canada.

Every year, the board makes recommendations to the minister responsible for Parks Canada, who is authorized to designate symbols of national historic significance. Parks Canada is responsible for announcing new designations, organizing ceremonies, and installing and maintaining plaques.

Canada's designation system works well and is admirable to be sure, but many past designations and some of the criteria used to assess subjects are rooted in our country's colonial history. These shortcomings are becoming obvious to a growing number of Canadians.

As a progressive country, we need to take the appropriate steps. More and more Canadians are recognizing that there is no relationship more important than the relationship with indigenous peoples. Canada, as a country, and Canadians themselves have made considerable progress in recent years in the process of reconciliation. Two years ago, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission published calls to action, a list of 94 concrete measures to strengthen ties between Canada and indigenous peoples. This private member's bill is a direct response to the recommendations set out in call to action No. 79.

As my hon. colleagues have pointed out, indigenous peoples have been living in what is now known as Canada for thousands of years. Long before the Vikings established settlements on the east coast and Samuel de Champlain paddled up the river that flows past these very Parliament buildings, indigenous communities were flourishing across the country. Despite that fact, few of the historic designations go further back than the past 450 years, and very few of them highlight the many contributions of indigenous peoples. We have every reason to ask why this is so, and the answer to that question should prompt us to do better. No, we cannot change the past, but that should not prevent us from creating a better future and providing other perspectives on our past.

Parks Canada works with more than 300 indigenous partners and communities to preserve, restore, and promote our natural and cultural heritage sites. Bill C-374 will build on those achievements for the good of all Canadians.

Reconciliation demands that we recognize two fundamental facts: first, for centuries, indigenous peoples have been prevented from fully participating in society and benefiting from prosperity like everyone else; second, indigenous peoples have so much to contribute to Canada economically, socially, and culturally.

Canada's network of national historic designations should encompass all aspects of this great country's history and cultivate a sense of wonder at the people, places, and events not only of past centuries but also of past millennia. To better appreciate Canada and this country's defining moments, as well as its cultural and creative traditions, we need a wider lens that enables us to peer further back in time. We need to take steps to achieve that goal.

[Member spoke in aboriginal language]

Historic Sites and Monuments ActPrivate Members' Business

February 26th, 2018 / 11:45 a.m.
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Liberal

John Aldag Liberal Cloverdale—Langley City, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to close debate on my private member's bill, Bill C-374, which seeks to amend the Historic Sites and Monuments Act and provide the much-needed inclusion of indigenous representation on the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada.

I would like to thank my hon. colleagues on both sides of the House who have risen to offer their perspectives and support for this legislation, including members for Saskatoon—Grasswood, Kootenay—Columbia, Saint Boniface—Saint Vital, Richmond—Arthabaska, Yukon, Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, North Vancouver, Yellowhead, and Winnipeg Centre. In particular, I would like to thank Senator Murray Sinclair for his work at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

I would like to acknowledge that we are on the traditional territory of the Algonquin people. As my hon. colleagues know, this recognition is a small but important way in which to advance reconciliation. Similarly, Bill C-374 seeks to advance this very same goal of reconciliation. Drawn from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's call to action 79(i), this bill would enshrine first nations, Métis, and Inuit perspectives on the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada. These perspectives are crucial to ensuring that our designation of historic places, persons, and events reflects and incorporates the perspectives of indigenous peoples.

In their summary of the final report, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission discussed the assault on indigenous memory, reflecting the implications of the presence and absence of indigenous voices in commemorations and history telling:

One of the most significant harms to come out of the residential schools was the attack on Indigenous memory. The federal government's policy of assimilation sought to break the chain of memory that connected the hearts, minds, and spirits of Aboriginal children to their families, communities, and nations. Many, but not all, Survivors have found ways to restore these connections. They believe that reconciliation with other Canadians calls for changing the country's collective, national history so that it is based on the truth about what happened to them as children, and to their families, communities, and nations.

Our government has been steadfast in its commitment to advance reconciliation and build a renewed relationship with indigenous peoples based on recognition, rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership. As the Prime Minister put it in his remarks on a new legal framework with indigenous peoples, “To truly renew the relationship between Canada and indigenous peoples, not just for today but for the next 150 years...we need a comprehensive and far-reaching approach. We need a government-wide shift in how we do things.”

That process is taking place, with progress having been made on two-thirds of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action under federal and shared responsibility, including $2.6 billion in first nations education, collaboration for updated language to the newcomers' citizenship guide, and full support and steps taken to implement UNDRIP. However, the work does not end there. In fact, it is only a beginning.

Reconciliation is a journey. It is a Canadian issue and it requires each and every one of us to make a conscious and meaningful effort to advance it. That is why I have brought Bill C-374 before the House, to hopefully make a small but not insignificant contribution toward advancing reconciliation with indigenous peoples.

Through my 32-year career with Parks Canada working in commemorations, I witnessed first-hand the implications that the absence and presence of indigenous perspectives had in capturing the way in which we recognize historic people, places, and events. We cannot hope to repair and strengthen our relationships with indigenous peoples unless we take a new approach that moves beyond the colonial and paternalistic approaches of the past and allows us to more authentically commemorate our collective past.

Bill C-374 would provide the opportunity for us to advance meaningful reconciliation with indigenous peoples. It would implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's call to action 79(i) and ensure that indigenous perspectives are more directly considered in our commemorations process.

Members in this place no doubt recognize the critical importance of reconciliation and the need for us to move beyond outdated colonial structures and better integrate indigenous perspectives into government decision-making processes. When it comes to the involvement of indigenous peoples in commemorating our history, we must do better and we can do better. Bill C-374 offers the opportunity to do just that.

I would like, once again, to thank my hon. colleagues for joining me in the debate and consideration of this bill. I am hopeful that all members in this place will join me in supporting Bill C-374 and send it to committee for consideration.

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.