Thank you, Madam Chair. It's a pleasure to be before the committee today. Just as you have acknowledged, we too acknowledge that we're on the unceded traditional territory of the Algonquin people.
I'm pleased to be joined today by the deputy minister of Indigenous Services Canada. We'll both be speaking about Division 25 of Bill C-97, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 19, 2019 and other measures.
The Government of Canada is renewing its relationship with indigenous peoples based on the recognition of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership.
A vital component of this renewed relationship is Canada's commitment to take action to dismantle the colonial structures of the past. On August 28, 2017, the Prime Minister announced the dissolution of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada and the creation of two new departments. These departments are Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada and Indigenous Services Canada.
We need to begin building a truly renewed relationship with first nations, Inuit and Métis. Division 25 of Bill C-97, the budget implementation act of 2019, is a key step in the ongoing process of reconciliation. It builds on the recommendation of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples from 1996:
...the enactment of companion legislation by the Parliament of Canada legislation to create the new laws and institutions needed to implement the renewed relationship. Their combined purpose is to provide the authority and tools for Aboriginal people to structure their own political, social and economic future.
More than 20 years ago, the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples called for this move to improve the delivery of services for indigenous peoples and to accelerate the movement towards self-determination. Quite simply, two departments will better serve the distinct needs of first nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. Furthermore, the creation of two departments follows the direction of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and article 4 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, ensuring the advancement of self-determination.
Division 25 would enact two statutes to establish the Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs and the Department of Indigenous Services. These statutes define the powers, duties and functions of respective ministers, as well as repeal the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development Act in order to formally dissolve Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.
Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada will accelerate the work already begun to renew the relationship between Canada and indigenous peoples. Equally as important, the department will continue to promote the self-reliance, prosperity and well-being of the residents and communities of the north. It will continue to work to create first nations, Inuit, and Métis institutions to build the capacity needed to support the implementation of their vision of self-determination.
The Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations guides the government's forward-looking and transformative work to create a new relationship with indigenous peoples. The minister has been tasked by the Prime Minister with better whole-of-government coordination, and the acceleration of self-government and self-determination agreements based on new policies, laws and operational practices.
As the needs of the north and northerners are distinct from those in the south, this bill would provide a basis in statute to establish the position of minister of northern affairs. The minister of northern affairs would guide the government's work in the north, including a new Arctic policy for Canada. In collaboration with the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, the minister of northern affairs would continue to advance work on a shared Arctic leadership model and support northern programming, governing institutions and scientific initiatives.
This proposed legislative initiative is an important step in the process of eliminating colonial structures. It would establish a new legislative basis that will better allow for collaboration and co-operation in assisting indigenous peoples in defining their vision of self-determination.
I want to thank the committee members for their attention.