House of Commons Hansard #245 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was aboriginal.


The House resumed from October 20 consideration of the motion that Bill C-107, an act respecting the establishment of the British Columbia Treaty Commission, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

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12:05 p.m.


Werner Schmidt Reform Okanagan Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the debate on Bill C-107 to raise a couple of objections with regard to the way the bill has been presented to the House.

What we have here is enabling legislation that sets up the British Columbia Treaty Commission. At this point as we are debating this position in the House we have a British Columbia Treaty Commission. On the commission are certain representatives of the federal government who are making statements on behalf of the federal government. Yet there is no legal authority for them to do so.

My purpose this morning is not to debate the particular details of the bill but to draw to the attention of the people of Canada-and those listening to us this morning will recognize it-that the bill is based on a recommendation of the Governor General of Canada who recommends to the House of Commons the appropriation of public revenue under the circumstances and the manner and for the purposes set out in a measure entitled an act respecting the establishment of the British Columbia Treaty Commission. Then the summary of the bill reads:

This enactment, together with an act of the Legislature of British Columbia and a resolution of the First Nations Summit, establishes the British Columbia Treaty Commission. That commission will facilitate in British Columbia the negotiation of treaties among first nations, Canada and British Columbia.

That is a major undertaking, a very serious and a very necessary issue that needs to be dealt with. I make it abundantly clear to everyone in the House this morning that my purpose in rising to speak against the bill is not the business of negotiating land claims and treaty settlements in British Columbia. That is not my purpose.

My purpose in rising concerns the issue of people going around the country without the legitimate authority of an act passed by Parliament. We should have settled the treaty business a long time ago.

Now the British Columbia legislature has passed legislation. The summit comprised of bands and various tribes among the aboriginal peoples has established a resolution that appoints certain people legitimately. However the House has gone beyond letting people go out there and do something without the legislative authority to do so.

This process disenfranchises the representatives of the House, of the people of Canada. It is wrong in principle and I object to it. I am not alone in that objection. Sitting on either side of me this morning are representatives of the constituency to the south, Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt, and the constituency to the north, Okanagan-Shuswap. They too find it objectionable that the House should engage in the process of doing business in this manner.

The purpose of the act so clearly stated is to establish the British Columbia Treaty Commission as undertaken in the agreement. The agreement refers to the agreement reached by the summit, the province of British Columbia and Canada.

What does it do in terms of establishing the commission? Established by the joint operation of this act, an act of the legislature of British Columbia and a resolution of the summit, is the British Columbia Treaty Commission consisting of a chief commissioner and not more than four other commissioners.

There was nothing until now. Yet they are travelling around the province of British Columbia setting up meetings. There was a meeting in my constituency last week. They are acting as if they were representing and negotiating on behalf of the Government of Canada. According to this act they could not commit the government to anything.

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12:05 p.m.

An hon. member

Were there discussions?

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12:05 p.m.


Werner Schmidt Reform Okanagan Centre, BC

Indeed there were discussions. Of course there are discussions and negotiations. What else would we expect? We need discussions to negotiate. What kind of comment was that? Is that the way the government runs things, with arrogance and presumption? That is not right.

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12:05 p.m.

An hon. member


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12:05 p.m.


Werner Schmidt Reform Okanagan Centre, BC

Yes, arrogance and presumption is exactly what it is up to.

I want to look at the purposes and powers of the commission in rather significant detail. The purpose of the commission is to facilitate in British Columbia the negotiation of treaties among one or more First Nations, Her Majesty in right of Canada and Her Majesty in right of British Columbia. The Westbank Indian band is already in step three of the process, yet the legislation has not yet been passed in the House.

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12:05 p.m.


Dennis Mills Liberal Broadview—Greenwood, ON

We are trying to be efficient.

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12:05 p.m.


Werner Schmidt Reform Okanagan Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member suggests this is efficiency. Is it efficient to do things with two people who have elected representatives to represent them and make the legislative proposals that ought to exist there? If that is the argument, what is the point of electing people? What is the point of having a Parliament? What is the point of having laws if one person can decide what happens and the person happens to be the person who runs the privy council?

Apparently the commissioners are running around the province representing Canada as a result of an order in council passed by the federal cabinet. That is how they run the country. It is not a democratic process and I object very strenuously to it.

It goes beyond that. I want to go into the details and responsibilities of the commission. What is it supposed to do? It is supposed to do at least four things that I will draw to the attention of the House. It is to assess readiness in accordance with the agreement of Her Majesty in right of Canada and in right of British Columbia and one or more First Nations to begin negotiations. The commission is to assess whether or not a particular band or tribe is ready to start negotiations. That is its responsibility and it is a major responsibility. We should all have had input into that debate before the commission members went around talking to various people.

It is to allocate funds. This is the authority that gives to the treasury the right to allocate funds. However, what has happened? It says to allocate funds that have been provided. By whom? By the finance minister to enable First Nations to participate in negotiations in accordance with the criteria agreed to by the principals. Is this not an interesting provision?

We now have these people spending money, travelling around the country, being paid and incurring expenses on behalf of the Government of Canada. They are to divide moneys among the persons who are to participate in the negotiations. In accordance with what? In accordance with criteria agreed to by the principals, which are the summit, the legislature of British Columbia and Canada.

Finally, they are to encourage timely negotiations. Are we to suggest then that this commission is not to do the negotiations? We are getting into the details of the bill, which I said I would not do and I will not.

I will simply say that I object strenuously to this method of retroactivity, this business of presenting to the House legislation after the fact. We have asked this of the people who have briefed us on this. We have asked them if this is really retroactive legislation and if they have already begun the process. The answer was yes. I object strenuously. I hope every member will make every effort to make sure this never happens again in the House.

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12:15 p.m.

Richmond B.C.


Raymond Chan LiberalSecretary of State (Asia-Pacific)

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure today to rise to speak on behalf of legislation that will have such great economic benefits for the people of British Columbia. With this legislation we can remove an obstacle that has hampered economic growth in B.C. for too long, uncertainty over ownership of land and resources. That uncertainty has carried a very high price.

In 1990 a Price Waterhouse study asked forestry and mining interests in B.C. about the effects of the uncertainty created by unresolved land claims. The results are sobering: $1 billion in investments were not made in those two sectors alone; 300 new jobs were not created; 1,500 permanent jobs were adversely affected; $125 million annually in capital investment is lost because of the lack of legal certainty with regard to land and resources. Since the time of that study the price has continued to be paid, year in and year out.

That is the toll we pay for leaving things unclear, uncertain, undefined. That is the price for refusing to sit down with our aboriginal partners and discuss rational solutions to real problems. That is the price opponents to this process will have us continue to pay. Here we have a chance to do something concrete, to create jobs and real economic growth for Canadians.

In September Ms. Marlie Beets of the B.C. Council of Forest Industries was quoted as saying their members know they cannot afford to ignore treaty issues. There is solid support in the forestry industry to resolve this, even though the industry has concerns about what treaties might contain.

People in the forestry industry of B.C. understand what is involved. They know they cannot function efficiently without clear policies. They know aboriginal rights must be defined clearly so that everyone knows the rules of the game. They know their time has come to realize the potential of their province and to expand

opportunities for the people. They want to get on with it. The proposition is simple: treaties will provide certainty and create a better climate for investment and economic growth. This is a reality that cannot be denied.

Treaties will provide a land base for aboriginal people and with it a foundation upon which to build self-sufficient communities. This will allow aboriginal people to become involved in a range of economic activities that in the absence of a land base have been foreclosed to them. Commercial activities like mining, forestry, and tourism become far more possible to be pursued by First Nations. And the growth of strong, self-reliant, economically vibrant aboriginal communities strengthens us all, because it will bring positive economic spillover into non-aboriginal communities.

For too long the aboriginal people of B.C. have been denied both their legal rights from the past and their hopes for the future. For too long they have suffered high rates of unemployment, low rates of literacy, and high rates of infant mortality and suicide. For too long we have denied ourselves the contribution they can make.

This situation cannot be defended and it must not continue. With rights and obligations clearly defined by treaties, all British Columbians, aboriginals and non-aboriginals, will be able to get on with realizing the potential of the province and expanding their opportunities for advancement.

This will be good news for the forest workers and the miners. It will mean an expanded tax base as the infusion of settlement funds stimulates economic activity and creates jobs. It will also mean lower social costs associated with the poverty and unemployment in aboriginal communities. It will mean the end of conflict and costly litigation and the beginning of co-operation and negotiation.

These historic issues will not go away. They cannot be wished away. As long as the issues remain unresolved, investment will stay away and the jobs that must be created will go elsewhere. The spiral will continue: uncertainty creating fewer opportunities and fewer opportunities creating more social problems. The cycle of poverty and dependence will continue.

These issues must be dealt with. We have a choice as to how we are going to do that. We can litigate at great expense to the Canadian taxpayer, knowing that at the end of this long, drawn out and often bitter process a court is likely to tell us to work out the details ourselves-something very similar to the negotiation process we have now-or we can negotiate directly from the outset.

Surely it makes good economic sense to avoid costly court battles, which cast each party in the role of antagonist. It makes good sense to instead approach these issues as partners, prepared to give and take in the spirit of trust and mutual respect.

Yes, there are real economic benefits in proceeding with treaties in B.C., but at the end of the day the most important benefit will not be felt in terms of dollars and cents; it will be felt in the lives of the individuals as they are given the opportunity to contribute further to the greatness of Canada.

The benefits of holding a job cannot always be measured by points on a graph. Having a job is really about hope. It means having the ability to plan for the future in order to realize your own potential and advance your family. It means having the pride of contributing to the overall health of one's community. Is it better to leave things in a state of confusion or to sit down with our aboriginal colleagues and establish certainty?

Perhaps it is expecting too much to hope that the Reform Party's vision of Canada is broad enough to include the first peoples, generous enough to expand the circle of opportunity, or far sighted enough to see the wisdom in finally completing this great unfinished business of our history. Surely it is not expecting too much to ask the Reform Party to take a hard headed look at the economics of treaty negotiations and admit that it makes real sense. Surely we can see the awful price we are paying for uncertainty. Surely even they can see the benefits of negotiating instead of litigating.

I would ask that the Reform Party and all other parties in the House join us in helping to close the chapter of frustration and fear and help us to write a new one of understanding and opportunity. Let us finally complete the work our forebears began.

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October 23rd, 1995 / 12:25 p.m.


Elijah Harper Liberal Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am humbled to be here in the House to speak in Parliament where the laws are made. This is the supreme lawmaking body of the country, based on the principles of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which says "based on the principles of the supremacy of God and the rule of law". We as aboriginal people, the first inhabitants of this country, have always known that.

We are now debating once again what has been debated for years and years: land. The first order of business has not been concluded with the First Nations, the first inhabitants.

The creator created all nations all over the world, created land, the trees, the environment we live in today. It so happens that he placed the aboriginal people in this country. Canada is an aboriginal word meaning community.

Our ancestors welcomed many nations that came to this land. Today many nations benefit from the rich resources of this country. As aboriginal people, we seem to be living in a third world country in our own homeland. We have always declared that the creator put us here and the creator will always honour that, no matter what governments do, how they cut it and slice this country. The country will always be aboriginal land, Canada.

Today we are talking about the B.C. Treaty Commission. Today we are also facing another crisis dealing with Quebec, another incident that would divide Canada. If it is the will of God to honour the people he placed here, the aboriginal people, the original inhabitants of this land, then Quebec cannot separate. We have put our faith in the creator to sustain us. This institution is based on that. The Canadian Constitution is based on that. As a matter of fact it is written on a piece of paper I have that in the principles of Christianity is found the liberty that has made Canada great. It is so great that in the United Nations' annual listing of the world's countries for 1994 Canada was ranked first out of 173.

Canada has benefited from the relationship with the aboriginal people. When we make treaties it has to be understood by every Canadian that we are here to co-exist, to welcome the Europeans, to live side by side with each other, to respect and honour each other and not to dominate. These treaties must also have the view and philosophy of the First Nations in this country because the creator put us here. We could not have given the land to anyone because we do not own it. We could only share the land and resources that would benefit everybody else in this country.

We did not accept the European concept of land tenure which is to have property, to see it as a commodity and to exploit and develop it for the purposes of a company or one or a few individuals. Maybe that is why opposition members are afraid of the land claims we are making. Maybe they think we may become like them. We may acquire all these things and not share them. In assessing these things we tend to assess the successes of our land claims and businesses in our communities based on European values and not in relation to some of the traditional ancient values we used to have. However, they are coming back again today.

We have to get back to the ancient roots because we are very close to the creator. The land has caused so much hurt. Look at the Oka crisis. Corporal Lemay died in that situation because the Mohawks did not want their ancestral burial grounds decimated. This summer in Ipperwash, Anthony "Dudley" George was killed as a result of land, another aboriginal burial ground.

These issues have to be resolved. They have to be dealt with. Our way of thinking and our philosophy are ones that have always been shared with other First Nations in this country, to share what we have, to share the land and resources. If we were to add up what it means in dollars and cents over the last 500 years I do not think it would even represent 1 per cent of the compensation to the aboriginal peoples. We probably would have been the wealthiest people in the world if we had been greedy and kept everything for ourselves. However, that was not our way of thinking.

That is why I am so honoured and humbled to be here, to be in this House which was created on the principles I espoused and which this place has sanctified to say all these things. All of us have to be reminded daily because we make mistakes as human beings. Personally, it has been a difficult journey for me to be involved in mainstream politics, provincially, nationally and internationally, in promoting this kind of philosophy.

The world's needs have come together because there is a global economy, a global movement which is happening, which is tearing our communities apart. It is influencing the communities in Canada. It is not just the aboriginal people, but Canadians as well. They feel helpless. They distrust governments. We have to restore trust.

I support Bill C-107. It will begin the treaty making process in British Columbia where treaties have not been made in the past, except for northeastern B.C., in the Peace River area, where Treaty No. 8 was signed years ago, as well as the treaty concerning Vancouver Island. However, most of British Columbia has never been in the treaty making process where land has been settled.

Our rights have never been extinguished. The Canadian Constitution has recognized that. There is not a requirement under the Constitution for any citizen or any nation to give up rights; rather, those rights which are recognized and affirmed in the Canadian Constitution should be expanded and defined. People are concerned about extinguishing land claims. They feel there should no longer be a requirement to extinguish land claims.

Several reports have been made to government over the past years. One was the 1985 Coolican report entitled: "Living Treaties, Lasting Agreements" which determined that extinguishing land claims were no longer an option. Today there is another report entitled: "Canada and Aboriginal Peoples: A New Partnership" authored by A.C. Hamilton. That report will be discussed in the near future. There was also the interim report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples entitled: "Treaty Making in the Spirit of Co-existence: An Alternative to Extinguishment". That report is also an alternative to extinguishing land claims.

All of those reports suggest a new approach. All of them ask that we come together, that we respect each other and that we negotiate in good faith. The rights of all individuals must be recognized. Whether they be aboriginal, government, business, or third party

interests, their rights must be protected in order for us to co-exist without fear.

I have heard some hon. members say that one law should be applied. Whose law should be applied? When our cemeteries are being desecrated, will the government remove the people who are occupying them? How would they feel if our aboriginal people were to go to their cemeteries? Whose law would be applied?

We must bring this to the attention of the Canadian public. Our concept of land tenure is one of sharing the land and resources. If the Canadian people understood that, they would not be threatened by land claims. Their interests would be protected. Aboriginal rights would ensure that. Our forefathers have taught us for many years that our history is very rich.

I have called for a sacred assembly to which all members will be invited. I have invited the Prime Minister and the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. A letter will also be sent to opposition members inviting them to participate in the sacred assembly which will be held hopefully sometime in December.

The sacred assembly is designed to bring together aboriginal and non-aboriginal leaders, spiritual leaders and religious leaders from all walks of life in Ottawa for the purpose of providing counsel and promoting reconciliation because of the events of this past summer.

What I believe has been missing is the spiritual element of this whole process. The political process has failed us. We need to get back to our traditional spiritual roots. The prime objective is to restore that so that the spiritual leaders, advisers and elders can provide direction not only to our aboriginal leaders but to government leaders across this country as well. This is sorely needed and the time is right for us to address these things.

With those few words, I thank you for listening. I recommend this bill to the members opposite.

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12:40 p.m.


Gordon Kirkby Liberal Prince Albert—Churchill River, SK

Mr. Speaker, today I rise to address the House on Bill C-107, the British Columbia Treaty Commission Act. I am extremely pleased to be joining my hon. colleagues in speaking in support of this legislation. It is imperative that we give the treaty commission the legal foundation and powers it needs to get on with the job of settling the dozens of land claims that are casting a cloud of uncertainty over British Columbia.

Settlement agreements acknowledge that claimant groups have some historic interest in the land which was occupied and used by their ancestors long before Europeans moved into the claim area. Equally as important, land claims settlements pave the way for a better economic future for the beneficiaries. They do so by providing a financial package to the claimant group and by ensuring a secure land base and certainty over resource ownership, all of which are critical to establishing a viable economic base.

The settlement of a land claim is not an end in itself, but a beginning. It is the beginning of a new era in which aboriginal people can regain control over their destiny, a destiny which has been taken from them. They can gain control of their economic future and reduce their dependence on government.

Hon. members have heard aboriginal leaders say time and again that self-government will be meaningless without sustainable economic development that is controlled by the aboriginal people themselves. On the other hand, the expansion of the aboriginal economy can help counteract the human and economic costs that for so many years and for so many generations have paralyzed First Nations communities across this great nation.

Economic development is critical to achieving the red book goal of strengthening aboriginal communities. Self-government, improved social services, better health care, more sensitive justice initiatives: the success of all of these efforts depends in part on strengthened local economies that provide aboriginal people with meaningful employment and reasonable levels of income.

There are many examples of the positive impact land claims settlements have had on aboriginal economies and standards of living. The Inuit of the Nunavik region are a case in point. Under the terms of the James Bay and Northern Quebec agreement, the Inuit established the Makivik Corporation which among other things serves as a holding company for a wide range of businesses that are bringing tangible economic benefits to northern Quebec every day.

I quote from the Makivik Corporation's 1994-95 annual report in which third vice-president Mark Gordon, who is responsible for the economic development program, made the following statement: "There is a common theme that unites all of our initiatives. That theme can be summarized by one word: control". Control by the Inuit people of their own future, control to do good, to enhance the lives of Inuit people.

The Inuit of Nunavik have certainly taken control of their economic future. The Makivik Corporation has used compensation funds to invest in a wide range of successful businesses that are providing employment and income to Inuit beneficiaries.

Air Inuit and First Air, for example, provide critical transportation and delivery services both within Nunavik and between the north and other parts of Canada and Greenland. Both airlines are

major employers in the Nunavik region and both reported profitable years in 1994.

Makivik Corporation also owns the Kigaq Travel Agency which promotes travel in northern Quebec. Another Makivik subsidiary, Seaku Fisheries, is involved in commercial fisheries development. Among other things, Seaku manages Makivik's shrimp licence. In 1994, 43 Inuit fishermen from Nunavik were employed on shrimp fishing vessels with collective earnings of close to $700,000. The company also invested about $500,000 in 1994 in community based fishing projects.

Seaku owns 50 per cent of Unaaq Fisheries which trains fishermen and pursues fisheries business opportunities at the international level. In 1994, Unaaq International completed consulting contracts for the National Capital Commission, the United Nations Development Program, the Canadian International Development Agency and Industry Canada.

A newly created subsidiary of Makivik, Nunavik Arctic Foods, is commercializing Nunavik country foods, particularly caribou and ring seal meat. The food is harvested through traditional Inuit hunts, processed and packaged in four community processing centres and distributed throughout retail outlets throughout Nunavik. Studies have shown that during full scale operations of processing centres, 72 cents out of every dollar will remain in Nunavik.

Makivik has also entered into a joint venture with other Inuit development corporations to form a Panarctic Inuit logistics corporation. This new enterprise recently joined with Frontec Logistics Corporation to successfully bid on a $288 million contract to operate and maintain the north warning system for a five-year period ending in the year 2000. Among other things, the agreement between the two corporations provides for the recruitment, training and hiring of Inuit workers.

The Cree of James Bay region have also used their compensation dollars and other economic development funding to acquire and establish a very impressive portfolio of collectively owned businesses among other interests. The Cree holding company known as Creeco owns an airline and a construction company.

Using funds from their 1984 land claim settlement, the Inuvialuit of the western Arctic region have pursued a wide range of economic development initiatives under the umbrella of the Inuvialuit Development Corporation.

The most successful has been the Inuvialuit Petroleum Corporation which in 1994 realized an amazing 200 per cent return on the timely sale of most of its holdings in western Canada. The corporation closed the year with a $50 million investment portfolio and total assets of $117 million. The company has initiated a number of programs to provide direct benefits to Inuvialuit people, including employment training and development. It has an exciting future in the Canadian petroleum industry.

The Inuvialuit also co-own the Northern Transportation Company with another aboriginal business, the Nunasai Corporation of Nunavik. In 1994 the Northern Transportation Company was named business of the year by the Northwest Territories Chamber of Commerce. Over the 10 years that the business has been owned by aboriginal people, it has contributed more than $100 million in taxes, purchases and payrolls to the territorial economy.

Another successful Inuvialuit venture is the Umayst Corporation which markets musk-ox meat and wool. The Inuvialuit Regional Corporation has also formed an international investment house that caters specifically to native groups around the world. Based on its track record, in 1993 the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation was able to secure an $87 million loan from the Bank of Montreal, part of which was used to repay a loan from the federal government. Clearly Canada's investment and land claim settlements is a sound one.

Settlement agreements often include specific provisions for economic development that go beyond land and resource ownership and financial compensation. For example, as a result of the Nunavut final agreement, the Inuit of Canada's eastern Arctic have been guaranteed preferred access to economic opportunities in the area of guiding, sports lodges and the commercial marketing of wildlife products. The final agreement also provides for increased Inuit participation in government employment and contracting within the settlement area and includes the right to negotiate employment, training and other benefits for the developers of major projects.

Similarly, the land claim settlements of the Gwich'in and Sahtu Dene and Metis recognize the need to expand the economic horizons for aboriginal people. The Sahtu agreement provides for economic development opportunities related to guiding, lodges, naturalist activities and commercial fishing. The Sahtu Dene and Metis will also be well positioned to take advantage of employment and business opportunities that will arise in the oil and gas sector as a result of the settlement agreement.

The Council for Yukon Indians' final agreement also enhances opportunities for Indian people to participate in the territorial economy. Both the federal and territorial governments have made commitments to contract with aboriginal companies to provide Yukon Indians with access to government employment.

The combination of land claim settlement agreements and other economic development initiatives have resulted in significant expansion and strengthening of the aboriginal economy in recent years. Twenty years ago a survey of aboriginal economic development in most regions of Canada would have revealed pockets of commercial activity heavily concentrated in natural resource based industries. Today there are literally thousands of aboriginal businesses across Canada operating in all sectors of the economy.

In my province of Saskatchewan, for instance, there are over 700 aboriginal owned and operated businesses enjoying tremendous economic success, doing well in the economy of Saskatchewan and indeed all of Canada. They provide employment to aboriginal and non-aboriginal people, paying the government tax revenue and all of the good things that go with sustained economic growth.

These aboriginal enterprises include industry firms, transportation and construction companies, retail and service outlets, manufacturing operations, management consultants, computer companies, arts and crafts enterprises, tourist outfitters and recreation oriented businesses.

Aboriginal businesses are also taking advantage of opportunities in new markets, such as authentic aboriginal tourism products which involve a combination of facilities and experiences that are uniquely aboriginal, experiences which are sought by many people from many nations.

Market research by the government indicates that authentic aboriginal tourism products have the potential to generate revenues of $1.6 billion annually in the Canadian economy. Not only will this benefit the aboriginal business but all businesses and enterprises across this nation.

Aboriginal business development is gathering momentum as First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples seek to gain control of their economic destinies. In a 1991 survey of aboriginal people, more than 18,000 respondents indicated that they own or operate a business and 34,000 others indicated their intention to start a business within two years.

Aboriginal people are proving to be astute business people. An independent study of 292 aboriginal firms that received financial assistance from Industry Canada revealed that 90 per cent of those firms were operating after two years. These businesses have proven to be good sources of employment for aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians alike. Of the 2,122 jobs created or maintained with support from Industry Canada, 1,486 were held by aboriginal people and 636 by non-aboriginal people.

In addition to the business ventures I mentioned earlier, which are a direct result of land claims, there are many other examples of successful aboriginal entrepreneurship.

In Saskatchewan the Meadow Lake Tribal Council, which represents nine First Nations, was the winner of the 1995 prestigious Aboriginal Economic Developer of the Year Award. The tribal council has developed an impressive economic development strategy that sets out a tremendous range of activities. Already a forestry company owned by the tribal council has generated 240 direct jobs.

In La Ronge, Saskatchewan, Kitsaki Development Corporation has business enterprises which gross over $30 million a year and provide well in excess of 250 full time jobs for aboriginal and non-aboriginal people alike.

In The Pas, Manitoba the Opaskwayak Cree Nation owns seven profitable businesses and is developing more. The latest venture is an $8 million, 70,000 square foot hotel complex that will open in 1996. Another organization of Manitoba First Nations, the Southeast Resource Development Council recently opened a plant that will manufacture windows and doors for the nine First Nations in southeastern Alberta.

Next year the first aboriginal owned hydroelectric plant in Canada will open in the Northwest Territories. The $26 million Cascades station will be owned by the Dogrib Power Corporation and most of the 100 jobs created by the plant will go to local Dogrib people.

In Quebec the Mohawk Trading Company in Kanesatake markets office supplies, equipment, computers, software and furniture to a wide range of clients including federal departments, corporations like Pepsi-Cola and Colgate-Palmolive.

On the east coast the Labrador Inuit Development Corporation has signed a multi-million dollar contract to mine and export rare anorthosite crystal to Italy.

We are witnessing an increase in the entrepreneurial partnerships between aboriginal people and mainstream business communities. Such partnerships, joint ventures and strategic business alliances are essential if the aboriginal community is to capitalize on opportunities throughout the economy.

In northern Ontario, for example, the Mussel White Mine Development project involves an agreement between Placer Dome Mining and four First Nations. Under this agreement 60 jobs will be created at the mine site. The Long Lake First Nation in northern Ontario has also negotiated an agreement that provides for employment, job training and opportunities with Long Lac Forest Products:Buchanan Brothers. This agreement has resulted in 65 jobs for First Nations people.

Despite the impediment of unresolved land claims, British Columbia First Nations are also pursuing business opportunities. Since June 1995, for example, the Skeetchestn First Nation and the Chia-Na-Ta Corporation have been working together to grow ginsing on 544 acres of reserve land in the Kamloops area for export to China and Hong Kong. In return for providing financing and land for the project, the First Nation anticipates approximately 300 jobs and more than $14 million in profits over the 10-year agreement.

On Vancouver Island the Nuu-cha-nulth Tribal Council has turned a former residential school into a resort. The 56-room lodge is being operated as a franchise of the Best Western chain. About 70 per cent of its workforce is First Nations people.

Most of my comments today have illustrated how land claims can contribute to the development of aboriginal economies. But resolution of land claims is also vital to non-aboriginal peoples since it creates a climate of certainty and often leads to economic spin-offs in neighbouring non-aboriginal communities, as well as many jobs for non-aboriginal people.

Strengthening aboriginal communities provides new opportunities and wealth creation possibilities for all Canadians. It has been estimated that if aboriginal people were to achieve the employment and wage parity with other Canadians by the year 2000 it would boost our gross domestic product by a whopping 2.3 per cent. A stronger First Nations community means stronger regional economies and a stronger country.

Hon. members can rest assured that this government will continue to support business and economic development initiatives among aboriginal people. We will do so not simply for the economic benefits but as a litmus test of our beliefs in fairness, justice, and equality of opportunity, as we stated in the red book.

Over the years we have not paid the attention we ought to allowing aboriginal people to fully participate in the Canadian economy. We have not paid attention to the great opportunities we can experience by everybody working together. When we treat all people in this land with dignity and with respect, when we work together, when we do not see the colour of a person's skin, when we do not see the race of a person, when we do not make distinctions based on religion, when we reach cross that gulf that has been created to share and to work together, it is then that our nation can prosper.

These are times in which we hear many intolerant statements, many hurtful statements. However, these are times when we must be all the more vigilant in our fight for equality and dignity for all people.

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for this opportunity to point out the economic gains that could be made for all people by settling some long-unfinished business.

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1 p.m.

Nunatsiaq Northwest Territories


Jack Iyerak Anawak LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Editor's Note: Member spoke in Inuktitut.

Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure to hear people from all walks of life supporting land claims. I consider this a misnomer, but it is called land claims today. As far as we are concerned, we are not claiming the land; the land is already ours. For lack of a better word, we call it land claims.

I would like to comment briefly and then ask a question of the hon. member. There was some question about what the legal basis is for the B.C. Treaty Commission. The B.C. Treaty Commission is presently acting as an agent within the authority of the three parties, which are of course the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, the provincial government, and the aboriginal people. In order to obtain funding for negotiations, the government had to seek the necessary appropriations from Parliament, which it has done. To allay the fears that there is no legal basis for the commission, we can rest assured the commission does have a legal basis.

I will return to the land claims issue in British Columbia and some of the issues the hon. member was talking about. One thing we have managed to achieve in a very short space of time as aboriginal people is to establish that we are a force to be reckoned with. People with little tolerance for aboriginal issues have a problem with the existence of land claims.

It was not so long ago that a previous prime minister of our party questioned that very thing but quickly turned around and realized that we do have a basis for land claims. The Right Hon. Pierre Elliott Trudeau questioned that in the early 1960s but realized that we did have a basis for recognition of aboriginal rights. Since then it has been acknowledged that there is indeed a basis for the negotiation of land claims.

In the past, aboriginal people have always been at a disadvantage in that it seemed we did not have anything to negotiate with, whereas the government had everything at their disposal to negotiate with. Too late for a lot of us, we realized we had a lot more to negotiate with than we thought. There was no clear definition of who owned the land and held the title. As a result, a recognition of the fact that we were here precipitated the land claims negotiations in the 1970s. Today we have settled quite a number of those negotiations and are continuing to settle them.

Now we are just starting on British Columbia, which is only right. They are long overdue for justice. I must question whether justice will ever really be served at this late date to the aboriginal peoples of British Columbia because of other interests and the agreement beforehand of not dealing with privately owned lands. I have to wonder about all this.

I was just wondering if the hon. member could elaborate a little more on what his role was as the former chair of the aboriginal affairs committee. How did he see the positive benefits of land claims as relates to the aboriginal peoples across the land, more so maybe in the province of Saskatchewan.

I was in a conference this morning where they were discussing aboriginal forestry. I must admit that my knowledge of forestry is somewhat limited. I have very little knowledge of trees. Ask me about snow and how to define snow in 25 different ways and I can do that, but forestry is not my area of expertise. It looked like a very good program that was going on where they wanted to have joint ventures and co-management.

I was just wondering if the member might elaborate a little more on what co-management or joint venture in Saskatchewan is and whether it is in his area of expertise as a result of his chairmanship of the aboriginal affairs committee.

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1:05 p.m.


Gordon Kirkby Liberal Prince Albert—Churchill River, SK

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. parliamentary secretary for the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development for his question.

In my experience, we are just seeing for the first time the effects of land entitlement settlements upon the people of Saskatchewan. This is a result of longstanding grievances between First Nations and the government. Approximately 26 First Nations signed land entitlement projects, which compensated them for land that was not allocated to them at the time of the signing of the treaty but which should have been.

I believe it is a very positive development in Saskatchewan. I believe there will be a lot of economic development projects. These economic development projects will benefit both the aboriginal and non-aboriginal communities.

Within Saskatchewan we have to learn to better live together and work together. As in other places, we see that there can be intolerant attitudes expressed from time to time. However, in Saskatchewan nobody is going away. The aboriginal people will be there in the future and the non-aboriginal people will be there in the future. We must learn to get along and work together.

When people begin to see the benefits of the land claims settlements to the economy in general there will be an acceptance of the process. We will learn that what benefits one group in Saskatchewan will benefit all. When one group succeeds we all succeed.

In the area of resource management, we need to see that all people will begin to respect one another and will be able to sit down at the table to learn to work together and respect each other. We must not say things that can inflame the situation. We must work together so that all people will live together with mutual respect and dignity, now and in the years to come.

We must learn to live together and work together. The land claims settlements, as well as a number of other initiatives, will give us the opportunity to do so. We need to ensure that all people will strive for peace and will work together in mutual respect.

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1:10 p.m.


John Loney Liberal Edmonton North, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased and honoured to be able to stand in the House today to speak on the British Columbia Treaty Commission and its second annual report.

The report, released June 27, 1995, and tabled in the House on October 19 by the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, cites the participation of the majority of First Nations in British Columbia and the progress being made at several negotiating tables as evidence that this voluntary treaty making process is working. In the four months since the report was released, significant progress has been made in the negotiation of treaties in British Columbia.

When the report was released, 43 First Nations, representing approximately 65 per cent of the First Nations population in British Columbia, had entered the six-stage treaty process. By October 20, 1995, the number of First Nations participating in the process had increased to 47, representing over 70 per cent of the First Nations population.

In June seven First Nations had progressed to stage three framework agreement negotiations. Framework agreements have now been signed by the first four nations: the Champagne Aishihik, the Gitksan, the Wet'suwet'en, and the Sechelt. These First Nations are involved in stage four of the process, the negotiation of an agreement in principle.

Framework agreements have been initialled with three other First Nations: the Teslin and Tlingit Council, Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs, and the Ditidaht First Nation.

Stage three framework negotiations are in progress with four First Nations: the Kaska Dene Council, the Lheit Lit'en First Nation, the Squamish First Nation, and the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council.

The British Columbia treaty commissioners have made several recommendations relative to the challenges being faced in the process. They recommended that the principals and the parties to the negotiations continue to commit extraordinary effort to public information and that principals take a greater role in public education on a province-wide, regional and local basis.

The commission notes that in its first annual report it was critical of the principals for not fulfilling their obligation to inform the public. It adds that since then substantial progress has been made in the area of public information. The principals have made considerable effort to inform the public about the process and the issues, all in a spirit of openness.

Another of the commission's recommendations centres on the necessity of both levels of government to make full use of their

consultation processes so that the community at large will be confident that its voices are heard and its concerns are considered.

The province-wide treaty negotiations advisory committee meets on a regular basis to provide advice to both the federal and provincial governments on sectorial issues such as fisheries, energy, petroleum and mineral resources; lands and forests; wildlife and governance. Regional advisory committees are being organized at the local or regional level in areas where First Nations are entering the treaty process. The government is committed to a consultation process that works effectively. Such a process is critical to the success of the treaty making process.

In this year's report the commissioners also recommend that an interim measures agreement be negotiated in a meaningful and timely manner so that the treaty negotiation process is not undermined. Interim measures are of critical importance to First Nations and should be included as a necessary element in a co-ordinated treaty making process. Interim measures should provide First Nations with adequate protection of their affected interests until a treaty is in place, thus avoiding the necessity of litigation.

The federal government is prepared to consider requests for interim measures where the issues are critical to concluding the treaties. The commissioners recommended that the principals review the current funding program to ensure that First Nations have adequate funds to prepare for and carry out negotiations and to enable the commission to carry out its responsibilities in allocating funds in a fair, independent and effective manner. The issue of funding is under review by the principals.

The commissioners also recommended that the principals address ways to effectively manage a treaty making process where more than 43 First Nations will be involved in negotiations. This issue has become even more critical to the principals as there are now 47 First Nations involved in the process. The principals are involved in discussions with each other and with the commission to find creative ways to manage these complex negotiations while respecting the right of all 196 First Nations in British Columbia to participate in this historic treaty making process.

I am pleased to report that the implementation of the commissioners' sixth and final recommendation is nearing completion with the introduction of Bill C-107, the British Columbia Treaty Commission Act, in the House on Wednesday, October 18, 1995. The enactment of the bill, together with the resolution of the First Nations Summit and the provincial Treaty Commission Act, will formally establish the British Columbia Treaty Commission as a legal entity.

Chief Commissioner Alec Robertson, Q.C., and Commissioners Barbara Owl Fisher, Will Battam and Peter Elugzik continue the work begun by their predecessors in fulfilling the commission's role as the keeper of the process. Miles Richardson was recently nominated by the First Nations Summit to replace Carol T.

Corcoran, one of the original commissioners. These individuals are to be thanked for their dedication and perseverance during these trying times. This is a new process and they have worked long and hard to ensure that the process will work.

During the first year of operation the commission's emphasis was on accepting First Nations into the process. As the parties move into framework and agreement in principle negotiations, the commission's role will be focused on monitoring and facilitating progress.

The commission and the government are committed to the treaty making process and to doing everything possible to ensure that it carries the people of the province of British Columbia into the next century with healthier communities and more productive relationships.

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1:20 p.m.

Nunatsiaq Northwest Territories


Jack Iyerak Anawak LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

As I said earlier, it is always a pleasure to listen to people who have some understanding but also support the aboriginal people.

In the long run land claims is a misnomer. I guess the whole issue evolved because of the fact that all of a sudden more people were here than had been previously, since 1492. Prior to that we had been a stable population.

Christopher Columbus came over in 1492, which reminds me of a joke that should not be taken seriously. Dick Gregory, a comedian born in 1932, said: "You have to say this for the white race. Its self-confidence knows no bounds. Who else could go to a small island in the south Pacific where there is no poverty, no crime, no unemployment, no war and no worry and call it a primitive society?" Basically the same thing happened here when Christopher Columbus arrived.

However the reality is that this is 1995. We have gone through a lot of changes over the years. Now I think we are finally getting the recognition that should have been there right from the beginning.

I have a question for the hon. member on the British Columbia Treaty Commission. What will the B.C. treaty commission do to ensure that all British Columbians are informed of the treaty negotiation process?

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1:20 p.m.


John Loney Liberal Edmonton North, AB

Mr. Speaker, in reply to the hon. member's question, as part of its duties the British Columbia Treaty Commission is responsible for the provision of a public record on negotiations. The commission is required to report annually to the legislature,

Parliament and the First Nations Summit on the progress of the negotiations.

Recently the commission released its second annual report to the principals detailing the progress of the negotiations. I have encouraged the new commissioners to play a larger role in informing the public on treaty negotiation issues.

In addition, a number of other steps have been taken to ensure that the treaty negotiation process is accessible and open to all British Columbians. These steps would include establishment of regionally based advisory committees, public forums, regional information meetings, a toll free phone number and brochures.

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1:20 p.m.


Stan Dromisky Liberal Thunder Bay—Atikokan, ON

Mr. Speaker, in the last few years the public information programs developed around the treaty negotiation process have expanded from public forums and open houses to include a wide range of different activities covering the province. It is a fantastic positive model, one that reaches into every home, every community, every institution within each and every one of the communities in question.

I commend the government for introducing a model of that nature. All parties to treaty negotiations in British Columbia place a high priority on effective public information. That is the key to success.

Without information we operate in darkness, in ignorance. Decisions are made without the proper facts, without the proper support systems, without the proper introduction of the major parties concerned in helping to bring about the most effective decision that will cater to the needs of all parties concerned.

There are many opportunities for the public to learn about treaty negotiations and the treaty making process. These opportunities are being provided through activities undertaken provincially, regionally and locally. To date this government and the other governments involved are doing a fantastic job in notifying all parties concerned of the process and where, when and why activities must take place.

At the provincial level the tripartite public education committee or TPEC takes the lead. The committee consists of members representing the three principals who are representatives of the Canadian government, representatives of the province of British Columbia and the First Nations Summit.

For clarification purposes I would like to read from the act what we mean by the summit:

Summit means the body that is established to represent the First Nations in British Columbia that agree to participate in the process provided for in the agreement to facilitate the negotiations of treaties among First Nations, Her Majesty in right of Canada and Her Majesty in right of British Columbia.

At the provincial level TPEC's primary objective is to plan, organize and implement province-wide public education programs on treaty negotiations.

I digress. Later in my presentation I will discuss the value of the process introduced in the province of British Columbia.

At the outset of the treaty negotiation process in 1994 the strategy developed by TPEC focused on holding public forums in communities around the province. Between June 1994 and today a total of fourteen forums have been held in British Columbia; five on Vancouver Island in Port Hardy, Nanaimo, Campbell River, Port Alberni and Victoria; three in the north in Prince Rupert, Smithers and Prince George; one in Cariboo-Chilcotin in Williams Lake; one in the Kootenays in Cranbrook; one in the interior in Kelowna; one on the sunshine coast in Powell River; and two in the lower mainland in Chilliwack and Vancouver. Two more forums will be held within the next few weeks in the lower mainland, one in Richmond and one in Delta.

The fact that so many have already taken place shows that the model is a dynamic one. We are reaching the people we should be reaching.

These community events begin with an informal open house where the public is able to view displays and videos, pick up information and speak one on one with negotiators. The open house is followed by a forum, a formal panel discussion involving not only the principles of negotiation but also the B.C. Treaty Commission and the local first nation. After the presentations the floor is open to questions from the audience. The forums are moderated by a high profile member of the community. This is a dynamic community interacting model.

The critical and most crucial facets are where the individual who has a concern can come to the public meeting, identify with one of the leaders or one of the representatives of TPEC and discuss on a personal basis problems, issues or concerns relating to problem that will be discussed in the general meeting.

Then follows information. The information giving process is critical. It is absolutely essential that information at this stage be given in a very objective manner, that it is clean, precise, not nebulous, not sweeping generalizations. The facts must be given as we know them in the real world.

Because three parties are involved in this process and because community representatives and community leaders are there from all facets of the community, the chances of success of giving a very accurate, true picture of whatever the scenario might be is far

greater than having a bureaucrat come in from Ottawa or from Victoria to make a presentation on behalf of the governments in question or even a First Nations representative making a presentation on behalf of all First Nations people in British Columbia.

We know from research that if all parties do not get involved in the decision making and searching for information processes, the picture will be tainted, tainted because a person at the top, if he has the responsibility for giving the information, has a very slim chance of presenting a real picture of what is happening at the grassroots.

Let me give an idea of what I am talking about here using a board of education as an example. It could be any institution we have created in the country. The chief executive officer will have a chain of command. The information will be coming from the grassroots up this chain to the office of the chief executive officer. The chief executive officer is paid a very grand salary and is responsible for all operations within his institution which might encompass thousands of people. He is responsible for their behaviour and actions and the outcome. Do you think for one moment that chief executive officer will be presented a true, accurate picture of what is happening at the grassroots? Of course not.

All research reveals that as information flows upward to the pinnacle, to the top of the pyramid, it slowly but surely takes on a new meaning, a new perspective, a new perception. Whatever the motivation might be, whatever the reasons might be, the information reaching the top is not the truth. This is one of the major reasons why this model introduced by the government of British Columbia has all the partners and all of the participants partaking in a variety of ways with a multitude of strategies. They are contributing at the grassroots and affecting the people who are making the decisions at the top end as well as middle management. This model is dynamic. It is one of the most fruitful models we have at the present time in our democratic society.

These community events begin with an informal open house. This is crucial. People must come into an atmosphere and environment where they feel at ease. It has to feel as if they are coming into a family reunion where they can openly and honestly discuss their concerns and perceptions with each other. It must not have the atmosphere of a formal meeting dictated and controlled by one chairperson.

After the presentation, the floor is open to questions from the audience. That is another crucial stage of this process. The people that are asking the questions may not have the same perception as a chairperson or any other of the major players has in this session. The person asking the question may have a completely different background which in turn affects how he or she perceives what is being presented in this meeting. If this person's perception is off balance or it is not in harmony with the perceptions and actual concepts that are being presented by the leaders of these groups then I think we have a problem.

However, in this model the people who are responding to the concerns and to the questions must have the background to understand the people who are asking the questions. It is absolutely essential that in this model we have representatives of the First Nations people who have a very in depth, comprehensive understanding of what this treaty and this model are all about and what the process is all about.

I would rather see someone from the First Nations who is capable of handling that role presenting an information package or responses to questions raised by First Nations people than someone coming from the department of Indian affairs in Ottawa telling the people in British Columbia that this is the way it is and these are the answers to the questions.

My perception will never be the same, no matter how long I work with First Nations people. I could work with them for years and I would never have the same type of perception of any situation as they have simply because I have not been raised in that culture. I have not been raised in their environment. Therefore, their experiences would be far different from mine.

The forums are moderated by a high profile member of the community. As more First Nations groups move into stages three and four of the treaty process, TPEC is expanding its activities to include issue oriented forums, with more focus on what is happening at the negotiating table and workshops for the media. The first media workshop was held in Nanaimo last week and was extremely well received.

A second level of public information activity takes place at the regional and local level. As part of the readiness preparations, the three negotiating parties establish a tripartite public information working group to support the negotiations. This is critical. We may have some of the most dynamic, shattering, exciting, zestful kind of experiences within that public forum but if the information that is being shared and generated is not shared with other people in the community who could not be in that public hall, all is in vain. All we are doing it helping to develop a gap between those who know and those who do not know.

Therefore, it becomes much more difficult to convince the public who do not have the first hand knowledge to really and truly comprehend what is going on. If they are making judgments based on ignorance then we have trouble. We then have negative reactions to anything that is being proposed in the media.

It is critical how the information is handled, the media that is involved, their perceptions and the kind of interpretations they give.

This working group develops a strategy, an action plan for the negotiation and takes responsibility for implementing the plan in the communities which fall within the traditional territories. It is extremely important to realize that these people must have an awareness of the communities in question. The model they might introduce to a community like Nanaimo may not not be exactly the same as the one they might introduce in a community like Powell River. They must have a knowledge and understanding of the people involved in each of the communities. What are the concerns in that community? What are the things people are saying in coffee shops? What are they saying on the reserves?

What kind of reaction are we getting to things we have already done? What kind of feedback are we getting from the major players from what we have done in the past? All of this has to be taken into consideration in making a global perception of the community where we are going to present this information package, or become involved in a process with the three partners and other members of the community.

A variety of initiatives have been implemented throughout the province. Some examples of programs include resource centres being established for the community at large on the sunshine coast, in Kelowna and in the Cariboo-Chilcotin area. These will be located in the local libraries.

The libraries will be provided with a set of three binders. One contains all information pertaining to the treaty negotiation process. I have not seen the binder, but I am hoping that the instructions regarding process are clean, clear, concise and understandable. The second contains all information specific to the negotiations being carried out in that community. The third contains all documentation pertaining to the local consultation process.

Newspaper supplements are being produced in Kelowna, Prince George and Williams Lake. These will be inserted into local newspapers to provide the widest distribution of information about the negotiations to the community. Extra copies will be produced for use as handout material at public events.

Open houses are held from time to time in each negotiation area to allow the public to informally meet with negotiators to discuss matters relating to the negotiations. This is dynamic because there is no set formula or schedule, but when the need arises within a community for an open house it materializes.

This is extremely important because when the emotions rise, you must strike when the iron is hot. If the people are really agitated and very concerned about some issue, they should have an open house as quickly as possible if that is a strategy that they feel is going to be the most effective in giving the information to all parties concerned.

A local organized public forum has been held in Prince Rupert. These forums involve not only negotiators, but also members of the community to discuss issues in depth. The forums are normally taped by the local community cable television stations and rebroadcast. We are very fortunate that often the local community television stations will rebroadcast some of these events two, three or four times at different times of the day to make sure they hit the various listening audiences that are available at that time.

Information about negotiations is often made available through other public events. For example, in the north, information booths have been set up at annual trade shows, giving negotiators wide exposure to those attending the show. Another example was the information booth set up for the Burrard negotiations at weekend canoe races and at a shopping mall as part of a week long native heritage days event.

Those are some examples, but I could go on and on because the human mind is a very creative thing. If you take the tethers off the human mind and allow it to be free to create, you will find that the individuals concerned will come up with a multitude of strategies on how to share information with each and every concerned person.

The working groups are also actively seeking opportunities for negotiators to speak to community groups, such as chambers of commerce, municipal councils, unions, churches and business groups. All of these activities involve a media component. The working groups have developed networks with the local media and keep them informed, as well as seeking specific opportunities for negotiators to be interviewed by reporters and appear on radio talk shows.

An important aspect of public information work at the local level is developing partnerships and alliances with community groups. Efforts are under way on a continuing basis to develop linkages with educational institutions, business associations and community organizations in an attempt to encourage ongoing dialogue with the communities.

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1:45 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I am sorry to tell the hon. member that his time has expired. Perhaps there will be more in questions and comments.

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1:45 p.m.


Jim Abbott Reform Kootenay East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am inclined to agree with the member who as I understood it stated that we cannot have a true settlement unless the grassroots are consulted.

The inference I took was that he was saying the grassroots at the aboriginal level should be consulted. This is not a criticism; I am just stating that I was not at all clear as to whether he also believed as I do that there must be a full consultation process at the

grassroots level with the non-aboriginal community as well and that they must be involved in the process.

He did refer to partners participating. Again, I agree with that. I believe he also mentioned about people making decisions at the top end. I suggest to him that the problem with the process as it is presently envisioned by the federal Liberal government and by the NDP government in British Columbia is that people are going to be making decisions at the top end for the non-aboriginal community and there is going to be insufficient input from the grassroots, as he put it, in the non-aboriginal community.

Since coming to Ottawa I have experienced that consultation is a word which is frequently used very liberally, if I may use a play on words, particularly by the civil service. Consultation really means that they are going to go through the process of appearing to consult, but after all is said and done, the die is cast and the decision has been made.

I would assume that the member believes in the equality of all Canadians as I do. Everyone of voting age meeting certain qualifications should have the right as a Canadian citizen to vote in any election. That also obviously extends to the broader issue of the equality of all Canadians. I wonder if the member would also agree with me that in the same way throughout this process there most probably are going to be ratification procedures for the aboriginal community which will be one person, one vote.

I wonder if the member would agree with my party's position that there also must be a ratification procedure which would be outside of the ratification by this Chamber or by the legislature in Victoria. The ratification procedure should be on the basis of one person, one vote for all people in the affected area, be they aboriginal or non-aboriginal. This would give us the qualification that all people are equal regardless of race, language, creed, colour, religion or gender. Would the member agree that in order for this process to work we must have one person, one vote by aboriginal and non-aboriginal alike in order to have a final and concluding settlement of this issue?

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1:45 p.m.


Stan Dromisky Liberal Thunder Bay—Atikokan, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the questions and his perceptions. I have to agree with him that the democratic process is a viable one. All interested and concerned parties who in some way will be affected must be involved in the process.

Because the negotiating process affects all people, it is possible that those who are interested and keenly want to become involved may do so. They may contribute to the process. That is why I say it is extremely important that people at the grassroots level do not shy away from the process but contribute to it.

When it comes to the actual decision making, whether or not a vote should be here or a vote should be there, I am not too aware of the exact process or the technicalities involved. I am sure that all parties concerned will come to some decision as to how it should operate. I am sure they have, but I am not aware of the strategy they are using at the present time.

From what I can gather it is a consultative process, one in which consultation takes place with all parties concerned. Information flows and decisions are being made in light of the information they have generated. Alternatives are carefully examined and some consensus must be reached within a legal framework naturally by all parties concerned.

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1:50 p.m.


Jim Abbott Reform Kootenay East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have a brief supplementary to my friend.

I wonder if he would give us his personal opinion. In order for us to arrive at a proper conclusion to this process as the aboriginal community will have one person, one vote, would he agree that the non-aboriginal community that is affected by the same process should also have one person, one vote? What is his opinion?

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1:50 p.m.


Stan Dromisky Liberal Thunder Bay—Atikokan, ON

Mr. Speaker, my opinion is very simple. If the issue pertains to a treaty settlement in a particular reserve or area, the people involved are the ones who should be making the decision. There is no doubt about it.

For instance in my own riding in the reserve of Fort William, if there is going to be a decision made regarding the reserve's boundaries and so forth, the people who are involved in that decision making are the ones who are on the reserve and other partners. For people who might be affected by the decision who live 10, 15, 20 miles away in my opinion I would not expect them to be actively taking part and casting a vote.

Putting it simply, the people on the reserve are the ones who are being affected by the decision. Therefore they must through this process and come to some conclusion as to how it is going to be decided.

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1:50 p.m.

Nunatsiaq Northwest Territories


Jack Iyerak Anawak LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if I might give a lesson to the hon. member of the Reform Party on government and land claims.

In the aboriginal world, land claims have been going on for some time in which a particular group is formed to negotiate. For example the Inuit people of the Northwest Territories in the eastern Arctic formed an organization called the Tungavik Federation of Nunavut which in turn now is called Nunavut Tungavik Inc., to negotiate land claims agreements on the Inuit's behalf with the Government of Canada. The way the people of Canada, other than

the Inuit people of the Northwest Territories, took part was through their elected representatives, the Government of Canada and their member of Parliament.

That is the process that has been used. I guess it is called the British parliamentary system where you elect your member of Parliament and he or she acts on your behalf.

In the aboriginal people's case an organization was appointed. I am sure all aboriginal groups across the country have an organization, which is negotiating on their behalf and they in turn have to ratify whatever is negotiated.

The people of Canada or people of a certain region, such as the people of British Columbia, will be represented by their elected representatives, whether it is the member of the provincial legislature or the member of Parliament for that particular region.

I wonder if the hon. member might care to expand a little more on how the information should be disseminated to the public at large about the British Columbia Treaty Commission so that the people of British Columbia because they feel involved in it will feel that they have a role to play in the whole process.

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1:55 p.m.


Stan Dromisky Liberal Thunder Bay—Atikokan, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have already given some information regarding process. As many strategies as possible must be created to inform the public. It may be costly. It may be time consuming. It may be consuming in terms of human resources and so forth, but it is absolutely essential for developing the proper mental state, perceptions and so forth that as much information be given to all members of the adjacent community as well as the First Nations people.

I am sure that in the hon. member's communities as well as in a great number of communities with all the modern technology we have, with the creative individuals who exist in each community, we could come up with a multitude of very effective information giving and information sharing strategies.

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1:55 p.m.


Judy Bethel Liberal Edmonton East, AB

Mr. Speaker, I support Bill C-107, the British Columbia Treaty Commission.

As many members are aware, the process of treaty making in British Columbia includes important third party consultations. In July 1993 the federal and provincial governments announced the establishment of the Treaty Negotiation Advisory Committee, TNAC. This is a 31 member organization that is divided into four sectoral advisory groups dealing with lands and forests, wildlife, fisheries and governance.

Each sectoral committee has completed interest papers which give an overview of the impact of treaties on their economic resource used and regulatory requirements. There have been several common interests identified. These include the need for certainty in treaty settlement, assured access to land base, fair and affordable agreements and avoiding impact on the existing employment base in smaller communities.

TNAC members ensure that the interests and expertise of major industries, business, labour, environment and outdoor recreation groups and local governments are understood and are taken into consideration in treaty negotiations.

TNAC advises governments on broad province-wide concerns and provides a forum for the provision of detailed information for discussion.

The process aspect of treaty negotiations has also received considerable attention from TNAC members and their demands for a more-