Mr. Speaker, I was just sitting here listening to all the members of Parliament and thinking about what a wonderful place this is. We are talking about repatriation of indigenous artifacts, and I have heard members from all parties speak in support of that.
Members may not have noticed, but from time to time this place can be a bit partisan. However, tonight we are talking about the repatriation of indigenous artifacts, and I am grateful to every single member who has spoken in favour of it and helped us with it. A lot of members and a lot of senators have been involved in the drafting of the bill, amending it and making it as good as it is. I know that it is not perfect, but it is a very good step in my view and I thank everybody for that.
I want to thank Heather Stevens, a young Mi'kmaq woman at Millbrook First Nation near Truro, Nova Scotia. She inspired this by telling me about a Mi'kmaq artifact from Millbrook that was taken to Australia years ago, and they have tried to get it back. I talked to my assistant about what we could do. I am not sure whether it was his idea or mine, but we agreed that we would draft this bill, and that is all it was.
I want to thank Joel Henderson. If I were allowed to point out that he is in the gallery I would, but I am not allowed to point that out. He was my executive assistant and developed much of the bill. He made endless contacts, endless consultations with museums and the people involved every step of the way. We were dealing with indigenous peoples from all walks, MPs, senators, chiefs, community leaders and historians. It was a learning experience. It was an amazing journey to go through this and listen to our indigenous people talk about their artifacts and how important they are to them.
This was an amazing journey that started with a particular issue, which, as I mentioned, was a Mi'kmaq robe that ended up in a Melbourne museum. When I tabled the bill, I spoke for two minutes and 37 seconds. Three weeks later, the ambassador from Australia, Her Excellency Natasha Smith, came to my office and said that she had been in touch with that museum and was going to try to help us get it back. I asked why she was doing this. She said that they have indigenous artifacts that they want back in Australia that are very important to them.
I started to get an idea of how important this indigenous artifact issue is. It is not just a small thing. It is a big thing. Then someone pointed out that the bill, Bill C-391, was written up in China and in the Netherlands, and has been talked about in a lot of different countries. It was a journey of learning for me about how important artifacts are to indigenous peoples. It is important for reconciliation, as some members mentioned. It is important for history. It is important for their culture. It is important for the indigenous youth to be able to see how their ancestors lived, the things they were able to make, the talents they had and the wonderful abilities they brought forward. I want to thank all the members who were involved, and everybody who was involved.
Today is my birthday, so I want to thank everyone for coming to my little party. I am very grateful for this. I am grateful for the opportunity to be here and to be part of something like this. It is something that I will remember forever and I thank you all for it. Hopefully the bill will go forward and will make a difference for indigenous people everywhere, not just in Canada but in other countries. Other countries have contacted us and asked if they could use this as a template for legislation in their legislatures.
Thank you very much everybody. I do appreciate it.