Evidence of meeting #9 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 need.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Hilda Anderson-Pyrz  Co-Chair, MMIWG2S+ - Manitoba Coalition
Sandra DeLaronde  Co-Chair, MMIWG2S+ - Manitoba Coalition
Lorraine Whitman  President, Native Women's Association of Canada
Melanie Omeniho  President, Women of the Métis Nation - Les Femmes Michif Otipemisiwak
Clerk of the Committee  Ms. Evelyn Lukyniuk

3:15 p.m.

President, Native Women's Association of Canada

Lorraine Whitman

Thank you very much.

First of all, I know we mentioned the action plan, what we've been doing with the dollars that we have at our national office. We have been taking dollars from other areas. To deal with this COVID crisis, we wanted to start making masks, which we have done. We have purchased material for the women to make the masks so that there will be some protection there, so that they will have that ease of protection, but we haven't been given any dollars. In answer to that, we need to be included when dollars are given out. We need to be included in the plans, and when there are dollars given out. We need significant dollars to be able to be proactive, not reactive, and those are the areas we're trying to be as proactive in as we can.

That's why these resiliency centres...and that's following 7.1 to 7.9 of the calls for justice. That is to be able to give the support, the need and the empowerment back to the women so that we will be able to work together. There's another area, the financial component, so that they can increase their financial situation and the standard that they're in. We certainly need the funding and the resiliency centres to be able to support our women in all the provinces and territories. That's for the day programs, as well as an increase in indigenous shelters, to meet the cultural component of the women, girls and gender-diverse people who we—

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bob Bratina

Thank you. We're at time.

Ms. Qaqqaq, you have two and a half minutes. Please go ahead.

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Mumilaaq Qaqqaq NDP Nunavut, NU

Thank you, Chair.

Thank you to all of the witnesses who have given us your wonderful knowledge and experiences. As a fellow indigenous woman, I know that these are very difficult things to talk about, but we must talk about them.

My questions are for the coalition, just to get us started off. These challenges sit right at the intersection of multiple departments at the federal level. Can you talk more about the difficulties you have faced with getting the departments to work effectively together?

Ms. DeLaronde, if you could reply, that would be great.

3:20 p.m.

Co-Chair, MMIWG2S+ - Manitoba Coalition

Sandra DeLaronde

Thank you.

It has been difficult. We've had, for many years, a proposal for a 24-7, and we had not received any support for that 24-7 prior to the pandemic. This pandemic has exacerbated the need, and it's a challenge for us, because we do this work as volunteers on behalf of our community. I would say it's near to impossible. It has been near to impossible.

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Mumilaaq Qaqqaq NDP Nunavut, NU

Ms. Anderson-Pyrz, is there anything you would like to add to that?

3:20 p.m.

Co-Chair, MMIWG2S+ - Manitoba Coalition

Hilda Anderson-Pyrz

Yes, I would like to add that many times when we work with different government departments, they are very paternalistic and they do not respect the indigenous knowledge that we carry as indigenous women, girls and two-spirited people, and do not allow us to lead many projects. It's very restrictive. I think it's really time for governments to recognize that we have the answers within us as a community of indigenous women, girls and two-spirited people. Given our cultural practices and our knowledge, we know what we need and how to go about creating that change.

That being said, we also need adequate resources that are long term and sustainable. The lives of indigenous women and girls should not be dependent upon project funding. That is unrealistic and it's killing our women, girls and two-spirited people.

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bob Bratina

I believe—

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Mumilaaq Qaqqaq NDP Nunavut, NU

Thank you both so much.

Mr. Chair, if I have the time—according to my clock I have about 30 seconds—I'd like to give a notice. On a future date, I will move the following motion:

That, given the recent resignation of Cathy Bennett from the federal government’s COVID-19 Supply Council due to a conflict of interest since she is Chair of the Board of Dynamic Air Shelters, a company that currently has a contract with Indigenous Services Canada; the continued lack of transparency for predominantely Indigenous communities with respect to the delivery of supplies and resources—

Sorry. I clicked something....

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bob Bratina

I'm sorry. You're well over the time, Ms. Qaqqaq.

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Mumilaaq Qaqqaq NDP Nunavut, NU

Okay. That will be sent out to the committee.

Thank you, Chair.

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bob Bratina

Thank you.

We have five-minute rounds now, with Mr. Dalton, Mr. van Koeverden, Mr. Viersen and Ms. Damoff.

Mr. Dalton, you are up for five minutes. Go ahead, please.

May 15th, 2020 / 3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Marc Dalton Conservative Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, BC

Thank you very much. I'm pleased to be here.

Thank you to all the witnesses who are sharing their knowledge here today.

I'm substituting for Gary Vidal, and I'm glad to be joining the committee today. I'm the member of Parliament for Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge in the greater Vancouver area and the traditional territories of Katzie First Nation and Kwantlen First Nation. I am Métis and a member of the Métis Nation base B.C., and locally, the Golden Ears Métis Society.

As we find throughout Canada, and in B.C. in particular, about 75% of indigenous peoples live off reserve, particularly in the urban centres. In my riding, surprisingly, the indigenous people are the largest, if you want to say it, group of people, more than the Chinese, Indo-Canadians or anything like that. It's really very surprising for a suburban riding. It's about 4,000 people, of which about two-thirds are Métis.

I was talking earlier with Chief Grace Cunningham of the Katzie First Nation, and she expressed the concern that funding and supports for her people are not for those off the reserve. For example, they might reside a few blocks away, but the funding, the supports, are not there. They feel that they're being left behind.

Lorraine, I'm wondering if you want to perhaps make a few comments regarding supports for urban indigenous peoples, particularly women.

3:25 p.m.

President, Native Women's Association of Canada

Lorraine Whitman

Thank you.

Yes, I believe that with the dollars base for our women, there has to be a gender-based analysis when it comes to dollars. We're seeing funding that's being given out, but it's to just one source. It doesn't give the definite area where the funding is going. With regard to our indigenous women—our children, our girls and our gender base—we need to be able to make sure that each and every one of them are taken care of and not forgotten.

As it was mentioned earlier, we're always running through hoops to get proposals in, and then not to be able to hear from the proposals that have been given.... I know when anything comes on my desk, I will let them know that, yes, I've received it. However, it's not that way when we put in proposals. We don't hear from them or we're not given the dollars, yet when we receive what funding we do receive, when our report is due, they're on the line asking us for the report or our funding will be disrupted. That adds extra stress on the added stress that we have as well, working with our women, our girls and our gender-diverse. It makes it difficult that the funding is not there for us women. We need to be inclusive in order to give our women what they need.

We need to go back to the matriarch society that we once were and know that we are important in the whole scope of this.

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Marc Dalton Conservative Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, BC

That's great, Lorraine. Thank you very much.

There are about 600,000 Métis in Canada, of which about 75,000 are in British Columbia. There was recently an announcement of $305 million for supports for indigenous people in this time of COVID, of which only $15 million was for off-reserve indigenous people and Métis.

I'm wondering, Melanie, if perhaps you can share how you feel about this. Is it an appropriate distribution, allocation of the funding? Maybe you could make a few comments on that.

3:25 p.m.

President, Women of the Métis Nation - Les Femmes Michif Otipemisiwak

Melanie Omeniho

Thank you for that opportunity.

There have been very few resources that have been able to go to urban indigenous issues and urban Métis people. I recognize that there have not been the necessary supports to even deal.... I live in Edmonton. I appreciate the British Columbia issues as well. However, we're in one of the largest indigenous urban centres in Edmonton, and there's been very little, if any, funding at all.

I know that when the federal government came to us as a national indigenous women's organization, we supported the money for COVID-19 going to grassroots community organizations. We were pushing for that and hoping there was going to be more of that, so that people delivering services on the ground would have those resources available to them.

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bob Bratina

Thanks for your answer. That brings us to time.

Sorry, Ms. DeLaronde, I didn't have an opportunity to respond to your hand.

We go to Mr. van Koeverden now for five minutes. Please, go ahead.

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Adam van Koeverden Liberal Milton, ON

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

It's a privilege to hear your stories. I want to thank the four strong indigenous women witnesses today for their contributions.

I want to acknowledge the intersectionalities of the impact and also say that I know I speak for everybody on this committee when I say that we are eager to help. We want to try to make things better, and your feedback and perspective and insight, and the feedback and perspective from the two indigenous women who serve on this community, Ms. Gazan and Ms. Qaqqaq, are super valuable in that pursuit.

The purpose of these forums is to provide feedback and criticism and recommendations, and I thank you for that so far. I don't want to talk for the duration of my five minutes. I want to hear from you and if I could, I'd just ask for some feedback on youth mental health.

I am the parliamentary secretary for youth, and I would love to hear from you on what we can be doing better to serve this very vulnerable section of the population in Canada, because youth mental health is something that comes up on every one of my youth calls.

Thank you so much for your feedback today, and I thank you in advance for your answers.

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bob Bratina

Who would like to respond?

3:30 p.m.

Co-Chair, MMIWG2S+ - Manitoba Coalition

Hilda Anderson-Pyrz

I would.

I think youth mental health is really critical, especially when we look at indigenous girls and our youth who are living in remote, isolated communities as well as in other first nation communities. There was a mental health crisis in many of our communities even prior to COVID-19, with the high rates of youth suicide. In order to address that, we need to ensure that adequate supports and resources are put into place and that they are culturally based, because western programs do not address the needs of indigenous people, and we must start to recognize that.

I reiterate that the answers rest within the communities. We need to ensure that there is access to culture, to language and to education that is based on traditional knowledge. We need all these really important things. Poverty plays a huge part in the challenges related to mental health and youth, so we must address poverty in our communities.

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bob Bratina

Ms. Omeniho, do you want to respond?

3:30 p.m.

President, Women of the Métis Nation - Les Femmes Michif Otipemisiwak

Melanie Omeniho

Yes, thank you.

Actually, thank you, Hilda, for that. I absolutely support what you said.

It's really important when we're dealing with our youth to understand that a lot of the communication even for them to be able to resource or find supports has not been youth friendly. Many people don't understand the messages and haven't been getting the communication to youth necessary to help protect them through COVID-19, which is very disturbing and concerning because some of them are at extreme risk.

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bob Bratina

Ms. DeLaronde, you have your hand up.

3:30 p.m.

Co-Chair, MMIWG2S+ - Manitoba Coalition

Sandra DeLaronde

Yes, thank you.

There are a couple of things I want to note, particularly in the time of COVID deaths.

In addition to what my colleagues have said, additional support is needed to assist children and youth with their school work. That means having access to infrastructure and to tutoring but also supporting the parents as they support the children as they learn from home. It also means focusing from birth forward on supporting families in positive ways that integrate culture and love and learning into their daily practice, rather than trying to fix things at the end. Work on preventative processes. That is what I would recommend.

Thank you.

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bob Bratina

You have one minute left, Mr. van Koeverden.

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Adam van Koeverden Liberal Milton, ON

Ms. Whitman, did we have a chance to hear from you on youth?