Hello there. Thank you, Minister Bennett, for coming back to our committee today.
I want to welcome everybody from the beautiful Mi'kmaq unceded territory here in Cobequid or Wagobagitk, as it used to be called, in Cumberland—Colchester.
We were talking the other day about systemic racism. I have been listening to various programs, the CBC and various other things recently, and reading a lot, of course. What a lot of people are saying about systemic racism is that we need to keep hiring first nations and black members of the community and have more diversity in jobs, in businesses and also in levels of government.
One of the things I remember from when I was in the provincial government here in Nova Scotia is having arguments with the deputy minister of a particular department because the all-white staff just couldn't understand that our Mi'kmaq community centre and museum did not own their artifacts because they felt the ancestors owned them.
To try to explain that to somebody who just didn't get it and who didn't get the culture, I finally had to say, “Look, you're Scottish from Cape Breton, right? Imagine if you weren't allowed to sing in Gaelic and you weren't allowed to do Highland dancing or you would be thrown in jail. Imagine you weren't allowed to speak your own language.”
These are the problems that have been building up. People just don't understand the culture. Again, as we mentioned the other day, it's a lack of respect, too.
What can we do, Minister, to try to change that as quickly as possible? I think this will help deal with the problem of why first nations women and girls are treated like they are not even second-class citizens. They're just not respected or treated with value, and their lives don't seem to be as valued as others'. What do you suggest we can do as a society and a government?