I was going to throw it in there. One of the challenges we face with regard to matrimonial real property is that there is a housing shortage in the community, so it's difficult to start a business. The other thing is that a judge will have to look at matrimonial real property and know the Indian Act. How many civil court judges know the Indian Act? If they don't know it, how is the community supposed to filter through this?
The other issue is that in remote communities, those women do not have access to legal aid, as we do closer to cities like Montreal or Quebec City. So there's a vacuum with regard to their access to justice. The bill does not address that particular section and that reality of aboriginal women.
There was a lack of adequate consultation. We had a month and a half to consult. I think most Canadians, if there are going to be legislative changes in Canada, are granted a year. There was a 500-page report from Wendy Grant-John, who was the minister's appointed representative. There were hardly any, if any, recommendations from that report: 500 pages and nothing in it talks about what the communities were saying.
I think the problem we have among ourselves is a lot of our communities don't even know what MRP is. They don't know the details involved in MRP. From what I've heard, they're asking for the rejection of this MRP bill, which we don't want to happen. We want the MRP bill to pass with amendments, just as we want Bill C-3 to pass with amendments, but the government is not listening. They're not accommodating our concerns.
Consultation...it's not just about our opinions. It's about accommodating our concerns. It's about a dialogue. It's about a partnership. That has not happened in any of the engagement sessions I have been involved in, nor the brief consultations there were on MRP.
For fee simple, yes, we have certificates of possession. Yes, we have these tiny pieces of land that are reserved for our benefit and use. I think what has not been discussed for our communities is that we want to be able to have the same kinds of economic opportunities that other people have. If we're to put up our land as collateral and we lose that land, it's taking what little we do have from our communities.
I know Mr. Jules is travelling right across Canada. For me, it's just another form of the white paper policy that was rejected in the 1970s. It's not adequate. You can't take what happens in the rest of Canada and put it in our communities. It doesn't work.
We want to have protection for our land, for future generations and for the present generation. Fee simple is not the best idea, I think, to help economic development. We need access to our land, to our resources. We need to sit down and dialogue with government. We should not have this “talk down” or “talking at”.
The government deals with the issues of aboriginal people in a very archaic, paternalistic way. It's 2010, for goodness' sake. We know all about your culture, but it's as if our culture is irrelevant: “It's going to be put in a museum, so you should be happy. That's how we're going to protect your culture.” It just doesn't work.