Mr. Speaker, I had the great honour of meeting modern-day pilgrims coming from the faith communities across Canada, young people, people well into their eighties who had been walking for days. Members of the Mennonite Church and young activists were expressing themselves through their church in a way that I had never seen before.
The cause they had taken up, in the spirit of the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, was to urge the government and Parliament to adopt Bill C-262, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It was such a beautiful marrying of faith, activism, and commitment to improving the country, to indigenous reconciliation, and to our parliamentary process. To see protest signs with a bill number on them is not something we see every day. It was the bill that was advanced by my New Democrat colleague, the member of Parliament for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou.
I am so honoured to have been greeted by that final pilgrimage coming into Ottawa. I am also grateful to be at the service of the people of Nanaimo—Ladysmith in Coast Salish territory, representing that riding at this time in Parliament, because this is a historic day.
My colleague said so powerfully in his opening statement this afternoon that there was no reconciliation in the absence of justice. He reminded us that UNDRIP had been reaffirmed eight times by the United Nations, by consensus. He reminded us that no state in the world opposed UNDRIP, and that even the Harper Conservatives in 2010 acceded to UNDRIP. Therefore, it is well past the time.
The framework for UNDRIP is the framework for reconciliation for Canada. It was used by Justice Sinclair in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as the framework for the report. In turn, Bill C-262 responds directly to the calls to action in the TRC report, specifically calls to action 43 and 44.
I am reminded of the words of my friend and colleague from Snuneymuxw, a former Snuneymuxw chief, Doug White III. Kwul’a’sul’tun is his Coast Salish name, his Hul'q'umin'um' name. He said:
...to those of us personally and intimately engaged in the struggle for justice for Indigenous peoples, one can sense that while the work remains fierce and intense, there is momentum building toward potential breakthroughs.
He further stated:
Canadians are far more aware of our history of colonialism, and the required work of reconciliation. I am hopeful that in 2018, Canadians will not succumb to voices that are intent on looking backward and maintaining what has been. The reality of what has been for Indigenous peoples is nothing to be preserved.
He urges specifically the endorsement of UNDRIP, and my colleague's bill, Bill C-262.
I asked this Parliament if we need this bill, given the government has acceded to the UN treaty. I say we do.
UNDRIP article 18 calls on governments to recognize that indigenous people have the right to participate in decision-making in matters that would affect their rights, through representatives chosen by themselves in accordance with their own procedures. Yet the government has approved the Kinder Morgan pipeline and its attendant oil tanker traffic running through the waters of the Salish Sea, through the riding I represent.
The hypocrisy of the government in saying that it believes that communities should control their own destiny, that it believes in the nation-to-nation relationship and then run roughshod over democracy and those promises tells us that we need the bill and we need to legislate a commitment to UNDRIP. Despite articles 21 and 22, which specifically point to the ending of violence against women and children and the particular role of indigenous women in our democracy, the government passed Bill S-3. It specifically chose to enshrine the continuation of discrimination against the rights of some indigenous women in the Indian Act over the urging and the voices of the six women, known as the Famous Six, who had fought for 40 years in the Supreme Court. We fully expected the government, given its feminist agenda and its commitment to a nation-to-nation relationship, to do better.
We do need this legislation. I am so honoured to serve with the member. The spirit he is offering to our country, especially given his own family's personal history with residential schools, is an extremely generous gift.
I urge the House in its entirety to vote together in consensus to move our country forward.