Mr. Speaker, I also rise to oppose the motion.
A number of aboriginal people who live in my riding of Nanaimo—Cowichan are asking for justice to be done. They want justice done today in an even-handed, fair and open manner. Part of what we are talking about is the fact that we have seen millions of dollars spent with very little money going to the survivors of residential schools. This is an absolutely shameful condition in this day and age.
One of the bands from my riding is the Penelakut people who live on Kuper Island. The website is vancouverisland.com. The website talks about some of the experiences of the people from Kuper. The website says:
Kuper Island has a rather dark side, with a sobering history of oppression at the hands of church and state in Canada. For almost a century, hundreds of Coast Salish children were sent to the Kuper Island Indian Residential School. The school opened in 1890, operated by Roman Catholic missionaries and funded by the Department of Indian Affairs.
Between 1863 and 1984, at least 14 residential schools and 10 boarding schools operated in British Columbia, more than any other Canadian province. For almost a century, all school-aged First Nations children in the province were targeted by government agents for removal from their homes to these schools to assimilate them into the European and Christian cultures.
Children who went to residential school suffered a loss of culture, identity, language, family and more.
This speaks to the ongoing tragedy that continues to play out in our communities today. Aboriginal peoples are asking us to come to the table and settle this shameful affair in an honest, upright and forthright manner.
We also have a number of aboriginal communities that have worked with the aboriginal healing fund. This fund, unfortunately, has been off again, on again and currently there is some additional money in the aboriginal healing fund but the process by which aboriginal communities could actually access it has not always been entirely clear to the aboriginal communities.
If we are truly committed to a healing process in our communities, it is absolutely essential that we ensure not only that survivors of residential schools have access to just compensation but we also ensure that the community as a whole can continue with that healing process. It is not only the children who went to residential schools who are suffering. It is their brothers, sisters, sons and daughters, and it is their grandchildren who are continuing to suffer as a result of the residential school system.
The Cowichan people in my riding who speak the Hul'qumi'num language are struggling to keep their language intact. They are struggling to ensure that the elders have the support that they need to pass on that language which is directly tied to their cultural identity. It is absolutely critical that we not only do this compensation package but that we also continue to support aboriginal peoples in maintaining their culture and their language because it is very much a part of their identity.
The member for Winnipeg Centre pointed out that there were a number of things that needed to be in place to ensure appropriate compensation. One of the key factors in the discussion is the fact that the AFN has specifically put forward a proposal and it is absolutely essential that the AFN is at the table as a meaningful partner in determining how compensation will be determined and paid out. The AFN is the elected representative of aboriginal peoples and if it is calling on us to implement a particular process then I think it is incumbent upon us to make sure that we are not only consulting but actively listening to and engaging the AFN in how this is unrolled.
The AFN is asking us to take a look at fair and reasonable compensation in an expedited process, which includes lump sum payments.
When the AFN asks the Canadian government to stand up with a heartfelt apology to the aboriginal people and asks for a truth and reconciliation process which will allow for healing, it is absolutely essential that we honour its request.
This healing is not only for aboriginal communities but also for those of us who live side by side with aboriginal communities, so that we can work together and live together in a way that is productive and healthy for all members of the community.
Far too many aboriginal people live in desperate and dire poverty. Too many aboriginal people struggle with not only poverty but education, alcohol and drug abuse. We need to ensure the healing process is in place, so aboriginal people can take their rightful place in Canada as partners in our communities.
I urge the House to defeat the motion. I urge the House to send this back to committee and support the motion put forward by the member for Winnipeg Centre and supported by the AFN. Let us carry on this conversation in partnership with the AFN. Let us ensure that aboriginal people in Canada are here as rightful participating citizens. I encourage the House to defeat the motion.