House of Commons Hansard #275 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was post.

Topics

Decorum in the HousePoints of OrderOral Questions

3 p.m.

Bloc

Xavier Barsalou-Duval Bloc Pierre-Boucher—Les Patriotes—Verchères, QC

Mr. Speaker, I believe that if you seek it, you will find unanimous consent for the following motion: That the Government of Canada intervene with the German and Spanish governments to call for the release of the following political prisoners: Carles Puigdemont, Jordi Turull, Raül Romeva, Carme Forcadell, Dolors Bassa, and Josep Rull.

Decorum in the HousePoints of OrderOral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to move the motion?

Decorum in the HousePoints of OrderOral Questions

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yes.

No.

Government Response to PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 14 petitions.

Tsilhqot'in ChiefsRoutine Proceedings

3 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Pursuant to an order made earlier this day, I now invite hon. members to rise while our distinguished guests enter the chamber and take their seats.

Our guests from the Tsilhqot'in first nation are Chief Joe Alphonse, Chief Russell Myers Ross, Chief Francis Laceese, Chief Victor Roy Stump, Chief Otis Guichon Sr., Chief Jimmy Lulua.

The right hon. Prime Minister.

Tsilhqot'in ChiefsRoutine Proceedings

3 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Today, we come together in the presence of the Tsilhqot’in chiefs to fully acknowledge the actions of past governments committed against the Tsilhqot'in people, and to express the Government of Canada’s profound regret for those actions.

We also come together out of recognition and respect for the Tsilhqot'in Nation, a vital partner in Canada's ongoing nation-to-nation effort toward reconciliation.

Today we honour and recognize six Tsilhqot'in chiefs, men who were treated and tried as criminals in an era when both the colonial government and the legal process did not respect the inherent rights of the Tsilhqot'in people and the Tsilhqot'in Nation.

As the government and the people of Canada continue to come to terms with our colonial past, it is essential that we recognize and support the implementation of the rights of the Tsilhqot'in, and all indigenous peoples, enshrined in our Constitution. The recognition and implementation of indigenous rights can wait no longer. Neither should the Tsilhqot'in people continue to wait for an apology that is long overdue.

Long before the arrival of Europeans, the Tsilhqot'in people cared for and protected their homelands. In the spring of 1864, the Tsilhqot’in chiefs led a war party in defence of those homelands.

The chiefs were attempting to repel a colonial road crew that wanted to build a road through Tsilhqot'in territory without any legal agreement with the Tsilhqot'in Nation. The rights of the Tsilhqot'in people to their land and their right to maintain and uphold their cultural and legal traditions were not considered by the colonial government of the day.

As settlers came to the land in the rush for gold, no consideration was given to the needs of the Tsilhqot'in people who were there first. No agreement was made to access their land, and no consent was sought.

At the same time, along with settlement, came smallpox, which devastated indigenous communities across the continent, including the Tsilhqot'in. Some reliable historical accounts indicate that the Tsilhqot'in had been threatened with the spread of the disease by one of the road workers, and so faced with these threats, the Tsilhqot'in people took action to defend their territory.

After convening a council to declare war, they attacked the road crew near Bute Inlet and removed all settlers from their lands before taking refuge in their territory beyond the reach of the colonial militia.

Not long after, one of the leaders of the colonial militia, Gold Commissioner William Cox, sent the Tsilhqot'in chiefs a sacred gift of tobacco and, with it, an invitation to discuss terms of peace. Head War Chief Lhats'assin and his men accepted this truce.

Instead of being welcomed as leaders and respected warriors, they were arrested, imprisoned, convicted, and killed. On October 26, 1864, five Tsilhqot'in chiefs were hanged for murder: Head War Chief Lhats'as?in, Chief Biyil, Chief Tilaghed, Chief Taqed, and Chief Chayses. They are buried in Quesnel, B.C. Later, Chief Ahan was also hanged. He is buried in New Westminster, B.C.

Today our government acknowledges what the colonial government of the day was unwilling to accept: that these six chiefs were leaders and warriors of the Tsilhqot’in Nation, and that the Tsilhqot’in people they led maintained rights to land that had never been ceded.

Even though the colonial government did not recognize these rights, the chiefs acted in accordance with their own laws to defend their territory, their people, and their way of life. They acted as leaders of a proud and independent nation facing a threat from another nation. When they came to meet with colonial officials, they did so on a diplomatic mission, expecting to be treated with dignity and honour. Their capture and arrest by the colonial government demonstrated a profound lack of respect for the Tsilhqot'in people, as did the refusal to recognize the Tsilhqot'in as a nation. Those are mistakes that our government is determined to set right.

We now understand that the treatment of the Tsilhqot'in chiefs represented a betrayal of trust and injustice that has been carried by the Tsilhqot'in people for more than 150 years even as they have continued to fight for and achieve recognition as the owners and caretakers of their land.

Today the Tsilhqot'in people, including the descendants of those six chiefs, continue to live on and care for Tsilhqot'in lands. They have never stopped fighting to preserve their territory and their culture right up to the historic Supreme Court of Canada decision of June 26, 2014, which recognized aboriginal title to the Tsilhqot'in Nation.

The Tsilhqot'in people and their leaders continue to show the same commitment to their land and to their nation that their chiefs did in 1864, pursuing government-to-government discussions with the Government of British Columbia and the Government of Canada with the goal of reconciliation and recognition as a self-determined first nation.

In February 2016, the Tsilhqot'in Nation and British Columbia signed the Nenqay Deni Accord, a significant step toward this goal. Less than a year later, in January 2017, we signed a letter of understanding between the Government of Canada and the Tsilhqot'in Nation, marking another step toward reconciliation and recognition of our new nation-to-nation relationship.

We know that the exoneration and the apology we are making today on behalf of Canada cannot by itself repair the damage that has been done, but it is my sincere hope that these words will allow for greater healing as Canada and the Tsilhqot'in Nation continue on a shared journey toward reconciliation.

At the same time, we would do well to acknowledge that for the Tsilhqot'in people the events of 1864 and 1865 are not confined to history. As a people, in particular the mothers who have passed this history down through generations, the Tsilhqot'in have carried these events with them for more than a century and a half.

The actions of the government of the day have had a deep and lasting impact on the relationship between the Tsilhqot'in nation and Canada. Think of all we might have gained if proper relations between our nations had been established and maintained. Think of what it might have meant for the Tsilhqot'in people to have true self-determination over their own future. Think of the economic opportunities that might have been realized. Think of what Canada would gain had we been open those many years ago to learning about the rich culture and traditions of the Tsilhqot'in people and finding for it a lasting place within the fabric of Canada. For the loss of that time and opportunity, we are truly sorry.

As much as it is within our power to do so, we must right the wrongs of the past. As an important symbol of our commitment to reconciliation, we confirm without reservation that Chief Lhats’assin, Chief Biyil, Chief Tilaghed, Chief Taqed, Chief Chayses, and Chief Ahan are fully exonerated of any crime or wrongdoing.

In the words of Chief Lhats’as?in, “They meant war, not murder.” We recognize that these six chiefs were leaders of a nation, that they acted in accordance with their laws and traditions, and that they are well regarded as heroes of their people.

I very much look forward to visiting the Declared Aboriginal Title lands of the Tsilhqot’in Nation this summer, at the invitation of the Tsilhqot’in leadership, to deliver this statement of exoneration directly to the Tsilhqot’in people, who have fought so long and so hard to have the commitment and sacrifice of their war chiefs recognized.

Acknowledging and apologizing for past mistakes is an important part of renewing the relationship between Canada and the Tsilhqot'in Nation, but more hard work lies ahead to continue to work together in positive ways that affirm the government's respect and recognition of the rights of the Tsilhqot'in people, to build a partnership that will support the Tsilhqot'in people as they continue to preserve and strengthen their culture and traditions, and govern and care for a territory as a flourishing nation, and to embrace the Tsilhqot'in Nation and its rich contributions to the country we all call home, to live up to the spirit of co-operation between our peoples, which has always been the unique strength and promise of Canada from its earliest days.

As we honour the courage and sacrifice shown by the Tsilhqot'in chiefs 154 years ago, we fulfill that strength and that promise, and we do it as we always should have, in partnership, with respect, together.

Sechanalyagh.

Tsilhqot'in ChiefsRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today on behalf of Canada's Conservatives to mark a sombre milestone in the history of British Columbia and that of Canada. We hope that today's apology and exoneration will address some of the pain that still exists within the hearts of the Tsilhqot'in people.

Here in 2018, we may ask ourselves what an apology can achieve. Moments such as this cannot change behaviour from another era or fix the past. We can, however, recognize the clear lasting and profound impact that former actions have had and the scars that have not been healed.

We join in apology and recognition today to acknowledge how our shared history can create understanding in the present and co-operation in the future.

More than 150 years ago, before Confederation, and at a time when Canada was a land equally steeped in opportunity and in conflict, the Tsilhqot'in people found themselves face to face with newcomers to their homeland. As has happened so often throughout history, collisions between indigenous people and new settlers can lead to misunderstanding, fear, and violence.

The Tsilhqot'in, facing a new presence on their homeland that was accompanied neither by meaningful outreach nor diplomacy, did as many of us would have done. They sought to protect their communities. Open war was declared and the pivotal moment in the conflict saw confrontations between the Tsilhqot'in and a group of workers near Bute Inlet. The Tsilhqot'in began a campaign to remove settlers from their lands, lands that had been arbitrarily declared open and free for access by arriving European peoples.

As the war dragged on, an agreement was struck between the Tsilhqot'in and colonial representatives to meet to discuss diplomatic terms. In a clear act of betrayal, the Tsilhqot'in leaders, who had arrived unarmed to the meeting, were arrested and taken into custody. They were tried for murder.

On October 26, five of the Tsilhqot'in chiefs were hanged and a sixth in the following year. They were Chief Lhats’as?in, Chief Biyil, Chief Tilaghed, Chief Taqed, Chief Chayses, and Chief Ahan.

The purpose of today's ceremony is to mark the exoneration of the Tsilhqot'in chiefs. Neither criminals nor aggressors, they may be regarded by all as having done what many of us would have considered normal and just: defended their lands, their communities, and their families, defended their way of life.

Canadian governments of all kinds can demonstrate a record of continued progress in relations between indigenous people in Canada. Certainly, we were proud of some of the strides that we made as the last government in terms of a relationship with first nations, Inuit, and Métis. Those strides often came with a sorrowful and respectful recognition of wrongdoing on the part of Canada and our forebears.

None, of course, better exemplifies this commitment than the apology to the former students of the residential schools. There was also the historic creation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the apology for relocation of Inuit families to the high Arctic, and the honouring of Métis veterans at Juno Beach, among other milestones, but the work clearly has not ended and it must continue.

It is appropriate that we work today toward a better understanding between the Tsilhqot'in Nation and Canada. The Tsilhqot'in people of today contribute to the shared prosperity of beautiful British Columbia, a place so many of us are proud to call home. Their historic suffering has been recognized and remembered by successive provincial governments.

As the words inscribed on what is today the site of the execution of those Tsilhqot'in chiefs tells us, we must “honour those who lost their lives in defence of the territory and the traditional way of life”. We recognize the inconsolable grief that has echoed through their nation and reverberates even today.

The Supreme Court of Canada's decision of 2014 recognized aboriginal title for the Tsilhqot'in Nation, an important moment for their nation, but one that also recognized them as a centuries long steward of their beautiful land.

I personally have enjoyed first-hand the majesty of the territory, mountains, rivers, and valleys, the abundant wildlife, and of course, the unique and fascinating wild horses. As the wildfires ravaged through the land last summer, we can understand what a significant impact it was to the Tsilhqot'in people, another loss to overcome.

Conservatives also hope that today's apology is an important step for an improved relationship so that all residents of the Tsilhqot'in can live side by side in harmony and enjoy mutual prosperity.

We thank and honour the presence of the Tsilhqot'in Nation here in the House of Commons today. This is a place where we can help define Canada for this generation and the next. We hope that today and in the future it can also be a place that the Tsilhqot'in can regard as a place of progress, reconciliation, and co-operation.

Tsilhqot'in ChiefsRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

NDP

Guy Caron NDP Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, New Democrats welcome and support today's apology and exoneration. We join the government in acknowledging the harm done to the Tsilhqot'in people prior, during, and since the Tsilhqot'in war of 1864-65. In particular, we want to express our support for the exoneration of the six Tsilhqot'in chiefs who were deceived with the false promise of a truce, only to be wrongfully arrested, tried, and hanged as criminals.

Chief Joe Alphonse said, speaking of today's exoneration, that:

If you come into Tsilhqot'in territory you had to have Tsilhqot'in permission. And when the Waddington road-building crew came in, they didn’t get that permission. And when they took our women, abused our women, we declared war on them.

The Tsilhqot'in people took justified action to defend their territory, and they were met not only with violent escalation but with dishonour. This was a critical event in the Tsilhqot'in war and a blight in the history of British Columbia. More than that, the violation of the Tsilhqot'in people and land is part of Canada's legacy of empty indigenous-colonial violence that still continues today.

Well before the Europeans arrived, the Tsilhqot’in Nation lived in the heart of western Canada's mountains and rivers in what is known today as British Columbia. Well before colonization, these communities shared a common history and culture as they took care of their land.

As in other parts of Canada, colonization spread over the lands of the Tsilhqot’in Nation, lands stolen without any negotiation or form of diplomacy.

Smallpox came to this region, as it did to the rest of Canada, and spread to the indigenous people who had no immunity against the illnesses brought by the Europeans. Some historical accounts indicate that this may have been intentional. Also, as in other parts of Canada, women were abused.

The Tsilhqot’in had to take action to defend their people and their lands. The Chilcotin War was declared 154 years ago. In the spring of 1864, the crew of a road construction company was attacked. Colonists, who had illegally settled on the Tsilhqot’in Nation's lands with the support of the colonial government at the time, were hunted.

Over the summer, the chiefs were invited to negotiate peace, but they were betrayed. Instead, they were shackled, put behind bars, and later led to the gallows. Their fate was sealed in advance. They were found guilty of murder and sentenced to hang. Six chiefs of the Tsilhqot’in Nation were hanged.

Four years ago, the Government of British Columbia fully exonerated the Tsilhqot'in chiefs for action taken in defence of their laws and territories in 1864. On behalf of New Democrats, I echo the B.C. government's words when I say that these chiefs were not criminals. These chiefs were not outlaws. These chiefs were proud leaders engaged in the defence of their lands and of their people.

On this day of apology and exoneration we also want to honour the many Tsilhqot'in historians, activists, advocates, and knowledge keepers who have continued in the face of overwhelming odds to honour the past and fight for a more just future. This day is a small vindication of their struggles. May it be the first of many more to come.

It must be said that this apology and this exoneration are long overdue. As was noted in the letter of understanding between the Tsilhqot'in and Canada, we recognize that reconciliation begins with truth telling and healing, so let us continue telling the truth here today.

We believe in justice for indigenous peoples. We believe in reconciliation. We believe it is time to act, because indigenous communities cannot wait another 150 years for hope. Even these lands on which we stand today, these lands on which I rise in this hallowed chamber, are the unceded lands of the Algonquin people.

Unless we continue to tell these hard truths and truly address the violence of Canada's ongoing colonial history, we will never be able to heal the trauma left in its wake. Reconciliation will be nothing more than a cruel deception like the one that stole the lives of six Tsilhqot'in chiefs 150 years ago.

It is time to put words into action when it comes to reconciliation. Indigenous peoples have suffered under colonial rule for 150 years. The next 150 years should be focused on nation-to-nation reconciliation, respect for the earth, and respect for cultures. The Tsilhqot’in Nation and the indigenous peoples of Canada have human rights and it is time they were upheld. We cannot continue to ignore the voices of those who walked this land before us.

Fighting against fishing rights on the Nuu-chah-nulth territory on the west coast of British Columbia is wrong. Fighting survivors of residential schools, like the ones from St. Anne's, is wrong. Leaving 81 first nation communities on long-term boil water advisories is wrong. Failing to appropriately address the housing crisis gripping first nation communities from coast to coast to coast is wrong. Failing to reform a justice system that disproportionately incarcerates indigenous people and exonerates their killers is wrong. A society that turns a blind eye to indigenous women being murdered and going missing at an alarming and disproportionate rate is wrong.

Real change cannot be all talk.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples must have force of law in Canada. On that note, I would once more like to honour my colleague, the member for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, for leading the charge, especially on getting this Parliament to recognize indigenous languages. This is an essential part of reconciliation.

Today is probably the first time some MPs have ever heard of the Tsilhqot'in nation and the events of 1864-65. I myself only learned about the Tsilhqot'in war and the hangings of six chiefs of the Tsilhqot'in nation while preparing this speech. I am not alone in my ignorance in Canada. We still know far too little about those who came before us. We know even less about those who protected the land that is now our shared home. We have a duty to remember. We have a duty to be curious. We have a duty to learn.

We have a duty to pass on the history of the first nations, the Inuit people, and the Métis. To do so, we need to make time. We need to make time in the calendar and take the time to learn more and better our understanding.

That is why we support the bill introduced by the member for Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River to make National Indigenous Peoples Day a statutory holiday in Canada.

Following the recommendation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, National Indigenous Peoples Day should be an opportunity to honour the many contributions indigenous peoples have made to this land and reflect on the many challenges they still face today. A statutory holiday would offer a public opportunity to better understand and ensure Canadians recognize our common history and the legacy of the treaty relationship, which remains a vital component of the reconciliation process. This day would allow us to take stock of our dark history, like the hanging of six chiefs from the Tsilhqot'in Nation.

Today's apology of the Government of Canada and the exoneration of the Tsilhqot'in chiefs are welcome. It is a step in the right direction, and it will hopefully provide some closure, comfort, and peace to the Tsilhqot'in Nation. However, the legacy after the apology will be in the concrete actions the government, and the ones after it, take to build a true nation-to-nation relationship with first nations, Inuit, and Métis. We cannot continue along the same path we have so unjustly walked for centuries.

To the members of the Tsilhqot'in Nation and other indigenous representatives in the House today, I want to thank them. I want to thank them for their strength in the face of colonialism. I want to thank them for their determination to see justice done. I want to thank them for their courage in the face of horrendous acts of violence, ignorance, and denial, and I want to thank them for their patience with our young country as we strive to be better.

During my preparations for this speech, Chief Roger William explained that the Tsilhqot'in do not apologize the same way the English or French do. To apologize, a person must admit that they did wrong.

We know we have much to do so that we can all stand on equal footing, but today I look up to all Tsilhqot'in.

[Member spoke in Tsilhqot'in]

[English]

We did wrong and we will do better.

Tsilhqot'in ChiefsRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Does the hon. member for Mirabel have the unanimous consent of the House to speak on this matter?

Tsilhqot'in ChiefsRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Tsilhqot'in ChiefsRoutine Proceedings

March 26th, 2018 / 3:35 p.m.

GPQ (ex-Bloc)

Simon Marcil GPQ (ex-Bloc) Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise briefly on behalf of my Groupe parlementaire québécois colleagues. The exoneration of the Tsilhqot'in chiefs is of great symbolic significance. The events of 1864 paint a telling portrait of colonialism at the height of its greed, set against the backdrop of the gold rush. I will not go into great detail about these events, but I would like to emphasize the major lack of comprehension surrounding this crisis.

When the workers who were hired to build a road through the Tsilhqot'in Nation's territory were killed in 1864, colonial forces set out in search of those they perceived as murderers. The important thing to note here is that the authorities had no idea what had happened when they made the decision to send a militia to avenge the workers.

Correspondence from that period indicates that no one understood the reason for the crisis. There was no indication that the construction workers had never sought or obtained permission from the Tsilhqot'in to build anything on their land. There was no indication of the fact that the arrival of the white man had come at a heavy cost for the Tsilhqot'in Nation, who lost half of its population to smallpox. It was not until the Tsilhqot'in chiefs were lured into peace negotiations, ambushed and subsequently sentenced to death that possible explanations came to light for the first time.

I wish I could say that this was merely representative of a bygone era when communication between speakers of different languages was all but impossible in a vast and little-known land. However, even now in the House, people talk about nation-to-nation relationships as though it were the most cutting-edge concept ever.

Establishing egalitarian relationships with others who share the same territory is not innovative, visionary, or bold. It is sensible. It is basic respect. No relationship works without respect. Let us keep that basic fact in mind as we go forward.

In closing, I would like to thank the Tsilhqot'in Nation representatives who are here with us today. May the tragedies that have afflicted your nation build a path to a better future for your people and all indigenous communities in Quebec and Canada.

Tsilhqot'in ChiefsRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Does the hon. member for Manicouagan also have the unanimous consent of the House to give her speech?

Tsilhqot'in ChiefsRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Tsilhqot'in ChiefsRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Bloc

Marilène Gill Bloc Manicouagan, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have this opportunity to respond to the Prime Minister's statement because today is a great day for the Tsilhqot'in Nation, whose war chiefs are being exonerated by the federal government over 150 years after the events we talked about earlier.

On behalf of the Bloc Québécois, I would like to begin by applauding the government's decision as well as the collaboration among the chiefs, the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, and all parties in the House in organizing this ceremony. The presence of Tsilhqot'in Nation representatives in this symbolic place is a testament to everyone's commitment to righting past wrongs.

What is the significance of today's gesture, and what must be done going forward? The Bloc Québécois hopes that relations with indigenous peoples will be respectful. We believe that acts of reparation such as the exoneration of the six Tslihqot'in warrior chiefs, who were arrested as a result of a cowardly ruse and then sentenced to death by hanging, is a humble first step in the right direction. Many more symbolic acts will have to be carried out, including exonerations. I am thinking of Mistahimaskwa, also known as Big Bear, and several members of his band, who were found guilty of treason in 1885. I am also thinking of Pitikwahanapiwiyin, or Poundmaker, who was also found guilty of the same charges in the same era. I am thinking of Louis Riel, who was hanged on November 6, 1885, under outdated legislation on high treason. This was a dark day in the history of Canada, and it has permanently scarred the collective consciousness of the Métis nation and the Quebec nation.

The men I just mentioned fought for their nation. We hope that the government will support reconciliation by exonerating them as well. They are heroes who were unfairly condemned, just like the Tslihqot'in chiefs: Grand Chief Lhats'as?in, Chief Biyil, Chief Tilaghed, Chief Taqed, Chief Chayses, and Chief Ahan.

In closing, Canada will have a great deal of work to do to make amends for its colonial past and to improve the living conditions of indigenous peoples. They can always count on the Bloc Québécois to listen to their concerns and to support them, because we hope to have a positive and constructive effect on relations with indigenous peoples. We want to end colonialism. We want to make amends. We are also committed to being an ally in the House and elsewhere.

Tshinashkumitin, meegwetch, sechanalyagh.

Tsilhqot'in ChiefsRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Does the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands also have the unanimous consent of the House to present her comments?

Tsilhqot'in ChiefsRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Tsilhqot'in ChiefsRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is indeed an enormous honour to stand here today on the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin peoples, to whom we say meegwetch for their generosity. Across this country, indigenous peoples have allowed us settler culture people to share a territory. Historically, we have not done it in ways that make us proud, which is what brings us here today.

In the tradition and language of the indigenous peoples, whose great honour it is for me to stand here as the member of Parliament for Saanich—Gulf Islands, and the WSÁNEC , in Sencoten, I raise my hands to the chiefs of the Tsilhqot'in, who are here today, and say hiswke siam. We hold them in honour and respect and are deeply honoured by their presence in this chamber today. In their own language, hunelht'ah. It is a great honour and privilege to participate in being able to say that after all these years, more than 150 years of injustice toward six individual chiefs who stood on behalf of their nations against aggression, in the way that national leaders do, they are now exonerated of the wrongful charges and the horrific murder of six Tsilhqot'in chiefs in that time of the 1864 Tsilhqot'in war.

I appreciate that the Prime Minister referenced the most recent history and the landmark case of the Supreme Court of Canada in 2014. I know Chief Joe Alphonse fought hard on that one, which was a long battle to have the land rights of the Tsilhqot'in recognized in the Supreme Court of Canada. The affront that caused that Supreme Court decision goes all the way back to 1983, 31 years before the unanimous Supreme Court decision written by former chief justice Beverley McLachlin. The affront to territory, to land rights, was in granting logging permits to carrier lumber, with no consideration that this was territory on which carrier lumber and the British Columbia government had no right to log. That 31 years of patience finally resulted in a unanimous Supreme Court of Canada verdict which said clearly that title is title is title. We are now in a period of trying to right the wrongs.

Certainly, the 1864 Tsilhqot'in war was replete with wrongs. The actions of the chiefs at the time were prompted by not just the presence of a road crew but the actions of that road crew with respect to abuse and sexual violence against young indigenous women of the Tsilhqot'in Nation, and the abuse of their own indigenous workers on the work crew, who were poorly treated and not paid. Ultimately, as is reported in history, when four bags of flour were stolen, the retaliation by the road crew was to distribute smallpox-infected blankets to cause biological warfare against the Tsilhqot'in Nation.

We know now, as others have said, how exactly wrong that period in our history was, and how long the full legal exoneration of the Tsilhqot'in leadership of that period was is in coming, and of course an apology from the Government of Canada, for which I thank the Prime Minister from the bottom of my heart. This is long overdue. However, that does not take away from the fact that this is an important day. It is also important that all parties agreed to the unusual ability for us to have on the floor of our chamber the current Tsilhqot'in leadership. This is very important.

I will turn back to the words of Chief Klatsassin, who said, “We meant war, not murder.” We can say back to him now, through the veils of history and time, perhaps reaching him somewhere, that in this settler culture Canada, in this I hope post-colonial era, when he said, “We meant war, not murder”, we say now that we mean reconciliation, peace, respect, and we mean, at long last, a nation-to-nation relationship based on mutual respect and stewardship of our land with the leadership of indigenous peoples.

I again say hiswke siam, meegwetch, hunelht'ah.

Tsilhqot'in ChiefsRoutine Proceedings

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I thank the Right Hon. Prime Minister, the hon. member for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, the hon. member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, the hon. member for Mirabel, the hon. member for Manicouagan, and the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands for their eloquent words today.

Pursuant to order made earlier today, I now invite Peyal Laceese of the Tsilhqot'in First Nation to perform a traditional drumming ceremony.

Tsilhqot'in ChiefsRoutine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I now invite honourable members to rise while our distinguished guests leave the chamber.

I wish to inform the House that because of the ministerial statement, government orders will be extended by 44 minutes.

Interparliamentary DelegationsRoutine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Geng Tan Liberal Don Valley North, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian parliamentary delegation of the Canada-China Legislative Association respecting its participation in the co-chair's annual visit to China from May 19 to May 26, 2017, and the 21st bilateral meeting held in China from August 16 to August 26, 2017.

Interparliamentary DelegationsRoutine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, three reports of the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group.

The first concerns the Pacific NorthWest Economic Region's 27th annual summit held in Portland, Oregon, U.S.A., from July 23 to July 27, 2017.

The second concerns the 71st annual meeting of The Council of State Governments' southern legislative conference held in Biloxi, Mississippi, U.S.A., from July 29 to August 2, 2017.

The third concerns the United States congressional meeting held in Washington, D.C., United States of America, from November 27 to November 29, 2017.

Procedure and House AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 57th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding Bill C-377, an act to change the name of the electoral district of Châteauguay—Lacolle. The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House without amendment.

The committee agrees that the riding of Châteauguay—Lacolle's name be changed as presented.

Procedure and House AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

4 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 58th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

Pursuant to Standing Order 91.1(2), the Subcommittee on Private Members' Business met to consider the item added to the order of precedence on Tuesday, March 20, 2018, in substitution of Bill C-385.

Procedure and House AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

4 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Pursuant to Standing Order 91.1(2), the report is deemed adopted.

Procedure and House AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

4 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I presented the two reports.

While I am on my feet, I move:

That the House proceed to orders of the day.