Evidence of meeting #140 for Indigenous and Northern Affairs in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was funding.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Seamus O'Regan  Minister of Indigenous Services
Yves Robillard  Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, Lib.
Jean-François Tremblay  Deputy Minister, Department of Indigenous Services Canada
Paul Thoppil  Chief Finances, Results and Delivery Officer, Department of Indigenous Services Canada
Alex Lakroni  Chief Finances, Results and Delivery Officer, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development
Diane Lafleur  Associate Deputy Minister, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

10:30 a.m.

Chief Finances, Results and Delivery Officer, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Alex Lakroni

Yes, definitely.

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Very good.

Minister, in the horizons items of the 2018-19 supplementary estimates, the funding for the reconsideration of the Trans Mountain expansion project, INAC received $312,000 for operation expenditures to support consultations with indigenous peoples. I'm sure you've heard from first nations across the country that have said that there have been no real consultations on Bill C-48 or Bill C-69. They say these bills are flawed because they've proceeded without their consent. Do you believe that the consultation process for Bill C-48, the tanker ban, and Bill C-69 was flawed, considering that's what the first nations are claiming?

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

Please give a very short response.

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal Toronto—St. Paul's, ON

I think the question around the TMX project means that, as we went back to re-engage in this very intensive way, there wasn't really an understanding of the need for accommodation in terms of the rights holders.

What we are supporting here is the ability to go into communities and find out what their needs are in terms of accommodation as we go forward.

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Seeing what you have learned with TMX, though, would that—

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

I'm sorry. The question period for MP Viersen has expired.

We're moving over to MP Mike Bossio.

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

As always, Minister, it's a real pleasure to have you here at committee.

Thank you, staff, as well. You're becoming a regular fixture as well at our committees. We greatly appreciate you all taking the time out of your very busy schedules to be here.

I want to go to the specific claim side and the rights tables, because I think in your speech you outlined some real progress that is happening in this direction.

I will read it:

An exciting new way that we are supporting indigenous people in realizing their vision of self-determination is through the recognition of indigenous rights and self-determination discussion tables...there are over 77 tables, with 380 communities...

That's over half of the communities in the country. A speech in February 2018....

I would argue what was mentioned here earlier by a previous member. There's real progress that has happened, and real progress we've never seen before as a country.

I would like you to expand on that and where you now see the path moving forward towards a full rights table.

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal Toronto—St. Paul's, ON

To characterize the progress is to underline the work that communities are doing and how ready they were for someone to open the door. A lot of them had already been reconstituting their nations, working on their constitutions, writing their laws, doing all these things, and now it's up to us to step up and try to keep pace with them, with their ambition. That's what has been so exciting, as more and more communities are choosing to come together and do the hard work it takes to get to self-determination.

One of the exciting examples of the type of work that has been done is in the groups that are already self-governing and have modern treaties. The work they've done on the collaborative fiscal arrangement has been a real incentive for others to see how this could be hugely important for their community, to get this work done so that they can be self-governing, because they will be funded properly in terms of language and culture and all the things it takes for them to run a government, as opposed to being funded in a haphazard way, with never quite enough, and in the way that people were treated under the Indian Act.

On both of those things, Joe Wild's approach didn't start with the Prime Minister's speech. This has been going on really since 2015. It's a new way. As you know, in B.C., people weren't really happy with the treaty process. Some had left the treaty process because they thought it was too prescriptive. We've offered another way of going about getting to a final agreement. That means that we sit down with them and work on their needs, interests and priorities.

Over a third of them have put child and family services as one of their priorities. Here in Ontario, 23 nations have worked together on a school system. The Coastal First Nations are working on a fishery. We are being flexible to allow them to work in whatever way they want to get out from the under the Indian Act and assert their jurisdiction on the areas of their priority. That's why people are coming to tables to just say, “This is what we want to work on with you”. Then our job is to get out of the way so they can actually govern themselves in that jurisdiction.

Others will want to move to a full modern treaty, and a lot of those, particularly in British Columbia, are doing that. However, even in that treaty process, I was very excited to see that there are all these prescribed stages. Two of the communities have decide that it was too prescriptive for them and they want to step aside and do it differently. They're going for a core treaty in very plain language so that seven generations out will understand what they signed, and the legal stuff will be in side agreements. Again, it's really exciting to learn at each of these tables and then watch some of the other tables pick up the good idea and say, “We could do it this way.”

The other piece that's important is that these communities and the leadership, chief and council, have to have their communities with them. They have to actually have it ratified by their community. Bringing their communities with them and the type of consultation they are doing is inspiring.

I was just thinking as I was coming here—

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

Thank you, Minister.

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal Toronto—St. Paul's, ON

—the social development and the self-government work—

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

And the funding.

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal Toronto—St. Paul's, ON

— that's done by somebody such as Ktunaxa at the same time is just totally inspiring.

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

MP Kevin Waugh will round up the end of our allocated time.

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Do you want me to clean up?

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

Yes. No pressure.

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Okay, no pressure.

Thank you, Minister and officials.

TRC completed that seven-year mandate with roughly $60 million, and I think we all agree it was very complicated. They did some fine work over seven years with $60 million.

However, on the missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, wow, Minister, your pockets are empty. Three months ago, you added $38 million more.

It has been a disaster. I have talked to one of the people from Saskatoon who was on the committee. They couldn't wait to get off the committee.

Now we're up to, I guess, $92 million and counting. This can't be good. Who wears this?

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal Toronto—St. Paul's, ON

I would obviously take the opposite view of that. It is good. It is—

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Is it good that we're at $92 million?

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal Toronto—St. Paul's, ON

It is important that the families were heard. It's important that there is a way of putting in place the concrete steps to end this terrible tragedy. It's what the families have been asking for, for over a decade. The TRC was not a national public inquiry. It wasn't under the Inquiries Act, and it didn't have those kinds of constraints that you see in a national public inquiry. We had to have orders in council in all the provinces and territories. We were able to make sure that, again, like the TRC, there was support and services for families. There needed to be aftercare. We learned a lot about the need for aftercare, and certainly the families have made that very clear to us.

This is a very important exercise that will help to bring, as we've heard all of this time, justice to the families, support for the families and concrete measures to make sure it doesn't happen again. As we go forward, I think we responded in a meaningful way to the interim report around the commemoration fund and the healing, as well as the RCMP's ability to deal with major cases and best practices.

From the TRC, plus everything we heard at the pre-inquiry gatherings, even the changes and the needs for reform on child and family services.... Almost every family at those gatherings had an attachment to the child and family welfare system, whether they were the victims or whether they were the perpetrators. The incidence of child abuse, sexism and racism in policing and child and family services—all of these are things that we have always said we weren't going to wait until the end of the commission to get done, but we did need families to know that they would be heard.

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

When will this be done?

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal Toronto—St. Paul's, ON

They will present their final report at the end of April.

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Were you shocked at how much more money they needed? You know, when this first started, it seemed they were driving backwards instead of looking forward. There didn't seem to be a coherent.... Well, they just didn't seem to be together at first. There were more people leaving the commission than staying on.

Have we learned anything by it?

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal Toronto—St. Paul's, ON

I think what we've learned is that it's really hard work. This is really tough stuff to hear. It is that people need a time out and need to be able to heal themselves. We are just so grateful to the families that have helped, the grandmothers council, the commissioners. This is hard work, and I know it will be worth it.

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

I'm looking forward to seeing the report in April.

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

Thank you.

On behalf of the committee, thank you once again for coming and sharing your thoughts, answering our questions. We appreciate it. Meegwetch. Dobryj den.

Until we meet again.