Evidence of meeting #16 for Indigenous and Northern Affairs in the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was community.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Chief Marlene Poitras  Regional Chief, Alberta Association, Assembly of First Nations
Tom Jackson  Performer, Creative Industries Coalition
Chief Alvin Fiddler  Nishnawbe Aski Nation
Steeve Mathias  Long Point First Nation

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Marcus Powlowski Liberal Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Maybe as a follow-up question, I think you have probably worked a fair bit in the United States as well as Canada. Would you say a few a few things about perhaps the anti-black racism in the United States compared to anti-indigenous racism in Canada? Are they comparable? Do they share similarities, or are there differences?

12:20 p.m.

Performer, Creative Industries Coalition

Tom Jackson

There are differences in that we were born here in this wonderful country, in this wonderful land. We didn't come here. We didn't sit in front of slave merchants on a ship. We were born here. The racism that I think has become our burden is how our governments, how our conquerors, at least at the time, our parent conquerors, used the gifts that we have, took those gifts and used them, but have not reciprocated. They have not returned the kindness.

A lot of us are still trying to figure out how we got into the mess. Believe it or not, when you do something for 300 years, it's really hard to change overnight, but if we start with that little word, that verb, and we start with that as a seed and we plant it and we nurture it, there will be a harvest, and we can all share in the harvest.

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bob Bratina

That brings us right to time on a remarkable intervention.

Thank you.

Ms. Bérubé, you may go ahead.

12:20 p.m.

Bloc

Sylvie Bérubé Bloc Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I'd like to thank the witnesses for their participation today. I'd also like to thank the IT people for all their assistance. Actually, my Internet connection isn't working properly today. Lastly, I'd like to thank the interpreters for their essential contribution to the committee's proceedings.

I am on the traditional territory of the Algonquin, Anishinabek and Cree peoples of the Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou riding.

My question is for Chief Mathias. You said earlier that you entered a state of emergency in mid-March.

Was the plan you put in place worthwhile? Do you think assistance from the government would have been more helpful? Not only did you need money, but you also needed more housing. How did you manage?

12:20 p.m.

Long Point First Nation

Chief Steeve Mathias

Thank you for your question.

Under the plan, I set up an important committee. The council has 14 members on the pandemic committee. The committee is made up of health care, education and public works stakeholders, as well as members of the council and the community's general administration. We meet every morning via Zoom to assess the situation. We developed a plan accordingly, but the challenge always lies in implementation.

That's where we ran into a few issues. To enforce some of the guidelines and measures we put in place, we needed police help. Certain people didn't want to co-operate. We imposed a curfew in the community, we set up a checkpoint, we developed a quarantine policy, and we placed people in quarantine. When the time came to implement the measures, the Sûreté du Québec told us that we couldn't do it without a decree from Quebec's department of health and social services.

We applied for one and we obtained Dr. Sobanjo's support. She's the region's public health authority. She submitted her recommendation to the Quebec government, which has been slow in granting the decree. We filed the application five or six weeks ago, but we were told that other communities in Quebec were also seeking a decree.

We can appreciate that, but the problem is that communities like Winneway have neither reserve status nor their own police force, and they can't make their own regulations. The people of Winneway are in a pretty unique position. That's why we don't think we should be mixed in with the rest of—

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bob Bratina

I'm sorry, but I have to interrupt. These are two and a half minute rounds. It's a good answer, but we went over time.

Ms. Gazan, go ahead, please, with your questions for two and a half minutes.

June 12th, 2020 / 12:25 p.m.

NDP

Leah Gazan NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I hate to do this, but because I only have two and a half minutes, I'd like the respondents to limit their responses to one minute.

My questions are for Mr. Jackson and Grand Chief Fiddler.

I'll start with you, Mr. Jackson. You talked about the struggles artists are having right now. I'm in support of having a guaranteed annual income.

How do you think that would help artists post-COVID?

12:25 p.m.

Performer, Creative Industries Coalition

Tom Jackson

I know that right now, because there is no income for artists other than CERB—and if that's cut off—there are very few options. I say this because there is no way for an artist to make money. How does it affect them? I hate to say that it would be obvious, but it would affect them not just from the perspective that they could go buy a loaf of bread or something for their children. What it does is it makes a difference in their mindset. It makes a difference in understanding that a world of government and people we've entertained our whole lives actually care. It makes a difference to me because it makes me believe that you believe that we can actually do something for you, so it's helping us help others.

12:25 p.m.

NDP

Leah Gazan NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Jackson, thank you so much. I have a million other questions I would love to ask you.

Grand Chief Fiddler, you spoke about the issue of access to clean drinking water. The Liberal government promised to end all boil water advisories. This is coming up in a couple of months and it's very clear that the government is not going to keep that promise.

We're currently in a pandemic, which for me speaks to the need to quicken the process to end all boil water advisories. What difference would it make if the government made substantial and real investments immediately to protect the health and safety of your communities and respond to this basic human right that's currently being violated?

12:25 p.m.

Nishnawbe Aski Nation

Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler

You can take anything, any sector, and on the reserve there are no standards. There are no standards on health care. There are no standards on education. There are no standards on housing or water. That's what this government needs to look at, building those standards, the standards on the reserve.

Again, water is a source of life. We cannot live without water, and we need to create standards to work in partnership with other jurisdictions and provinces, to build these standards and to fund the communities to be able to meet the standards.

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bob Bratina

Thank you so much.

Now we'll move on to a five-minute round.

Mr. Schmale, you're up first for five minutes.

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Jamie Schmale Conservative Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

Thank you very much, Chair.

I'll start with Mr. Jackson.

I did enjoy your opening comments because, like you, I started my career off in radio as a lowly journalist and a news director eventually. You were right about the pay; it is pretty horrible, but it is something we enjoy doing and that's why we do it.

My comment to you is in regard to the CERB, because we have heard that a few times. I have family members in the travel and tourism industry who say the exact same thing you do, that live comedy shows, concerts or performances will be the very last to recover, the same as travel and tourism, and probably in some cases very late to recover.

In terms of extending the CERB, unless I missed it, did you put a thought on the table as to when you saw the CERB taps starting to turn off, so to speak?

12:30 p.m.

Performer, Creative Industries Coalition

Tom Jackson

My comment was that because a lot of folks in our industry applied and got accepted at the front end of CERB, that clock runs out mid-July. There was only a period of time during which we qualified for it. We're asking now for an extension of that and an extension on where the cut-off is so that we can maintain an existence.

It's not just those on the stage; it's really important to know that it's the industry itself. It's all the IATSE guys. It's the crews, the writers and the designers. It's all those people who in fact we don't know are behind the scenes. That's a large number.

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Jamie Schmale Conservative Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

My friend Mr. Viersen mentioned that those of us in Ontario are allowed to get a haircut now.

Do you see a slow, gradual opening of some of these places, such as theatres and that type of thing, where you could transition into the wage subsidy and do it that way, instead of staying completely on CERB?

12:30 p.m.

Performer, Creative Industries Coalition

Tom Jackson

I do see that there's a possibility of its being slow, but as we open up, we have to be very aware of all the things we have to do to stay safe: to keep us safe and to keep you safe. That worries me a bit, although I say we need to get some activity to take place.

That might not be ideally the way we want to have it roll out, but there are other media now. I have a project called Almighty Voices, which offers an opportunity for participants to make up to $10,000 versus some of the options now virtually, where an entertainer will do one show once and somebody will profit from that, but it won't necessarily be the entertainer. There are models, and I could describe them to you and would gladly do so offline, where we can create a better sharing of profits from those kinds of models such that everybody can profit. If I do a show and I have technicians, they would have, at the end of the day, a residual every time that piece showed versus just one time.

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Jamie Schmale Conservative Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

Perfect. I appreciate very much your comments.

I just want to quickly move over to the conversation about sport and how it could help with all sorts of things, physical activity, mental health, etc. I forget who was talking about that. I think it was Chief Mathias who mentioned that.

Do you want to expand on that a bit, on any ideas? I think it was you who talked about how we can expand the sport portion of it, in terms of getting people outside, getting them active and strong, mentally and physically, and that kind of thing.

12:35 p.m.

Long Point First Nation

Chief Steeve Mathias

I mentioned that we are lacking infrastructure in our community. We don't have our own arena. We have a ball field. We made it on our own without getting any financial support.

I think there's a need for that to start providing adequate infrastructure for our young people. What they do mostly is more traditional activities. They'll go paddle around in a canoe or they'll go swimming. They swim in the river at this time of the year too, and it's snowing here right now. You can imagine in what kind of conditions our youth are having to do different kinds of sports.

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bob Bratina

We'll leave it there for five minutes.

Now we go to Ms. Zann for five minutes.

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

Lenore Zann Liberal Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Hello. How is everybody doing today?

I'm coming to you from the beautiful unceded territory of the Mi'kmaq in northern Nova Scotia. I'm in Truro. I want to say welcome to the committee. Thank you for all of your important presentations.

Hi, Tom. How are you doing? It's been a very long time since we've seen each other, but I'm so proud of your career. You've done so well. Thank you for promoting the creative economy. As you know, I'm actually a member of most of those unions you mentioned and was an active performer for 33 years.

I always say that we have an industry that is clean, green, sustainable and constantly renewable. It's based on the biggest natural resource that we have, which is the talent and creativity of our people. That's why I feel the creative economy needs to be invested in right across the country by provinces, municipalities and of course the federal government.

A lot of my friends are in the same boat with the CERB. They definitely want to see us extend that CERB. They can't go back to work. Whole seasons have been cancelled for the Stratford Festival and Neptune Theatre here in Halifax. Entire shows' seasons are cancelled and I'm told they will not be going back until next February. It's difficult.

As you know, it's difficult to make a steady living and it's difficult when you're out of work, because actors do not get employment insurance. In the States, they do. Also in the States, they make residuals and good residuals, whereas here in Canada actors and writers are offered to sign up and they sign a deal, under which you get paid once and that's it, on and on into eternity. Other people get rich and make billions of dollars with our talent.

Can you tell me, Mr. Jackson, if we can extend the CERB—we have already invested $500 million into the creative industries to try to help get through this period—what else can we do to help the creative industries, as we move forward, to be more viable and get more money into the pockets of hard-working artists?

12:35 p.m.

Performer, Creative Industries Coalition

Tom Jackson

We need voices like yours, to start out with, and we need to make sure that we don't put our foot on the fat pedal. We've got to keep our foot on the skinny pedal. We have to keep moving forward because, regardless of what the immediate future brings, we have to plan in real time. We have to make changes. We have to be inventive because, and no disrespect, we can't rely upon that welfare cheque. We want to work, like everybody else. We can't rely upon that, so we have to change our way of thinking and bring others along—I used the word earlier—to collaborate, to sit down with government and say that, if that doesn't work, maybe we can create some legislation that is special legislation, something that is unique to what already exists but uses the existing framework so we don't upset the apple cart. Not that I'm not in favour of upsetting the apple cart, because I've done that from time to time myself.

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Lenore Zann Liberal Cumberland—Colchester, NS

That's probably why we get along so well.

12:40 p.m.

Performer, Creative Industries Coalition

Tom Jackson

It's really important for us to think outside that box.

I'd like to go back to a point I talked about earlier of creating a model where, if we're using what is available to us, people other than you or I or a promoter can share in the feast.

Again, if I'm a crew member.... I almost got an honorary IATSE card once. I didn't quite make it, but I almost got it.

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Lenore Zann Liberal Cumberland—Colchester, NS

You and Graham Greene....

12:40 p.m.

Performer, Creative Industries Coalition

Tom Jackson

If I were a member of a crew, and somebody was shooting in my theatre, or if I were providing that access to the public, and people were going to pay to see the show, can we not create a residual for the crew, not just the writer, not just the actor, not just the comic, not just the musician and certainly not just the promoter? I love promoters. There's nothing wrong with that, but the reality is that we should all be able to share the feast if we're creating....

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Lenore Zann Liberal Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Thank you very much. Wela'lin.