[Member spoke in Dene]
Today, I am happy to speak in support of the motion presented by the member for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou and would like to congratulate him on his lifetime achievement award for advancing the rights of first nations, Métis, and Inuit people. It is humbling to sit in the House of Commons next to the hon. member and to work across the hall from him every day.
One of the first things that surprised me when I was elected to represent the people of Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River was the number of invitations I receive here in Ottawa, as I am sure my colleague can attest to. Our offices receive hundreds of invitations every month for events across the city, such as film screenings, meetings of foreign dignitaries, lunches with community stakeholders, issue briefings with industry professionals, book launches, protests, and more. At virtually every single one of these events, there is one thing that is always said, which is that we recognize that we are on the unceded and unsurrendered territory of the Algonquin people.
Statements like these are important. Recognizing the unsurrendered land of first nations, Métis, and Inuit people is an important step toward our national project of reconciliation. Acknowledging that the lands we live on have their own history reminds all Canadians of our colonial history and the injustices committed against first nations, Métis, and Inuit people.
Just this past week, the Liberal government has proven that the recognition of our people is just words and false promises. When the Liberal government decided to purchase the Kinder Morgan pipeline assets for $4.5 billion, it said it was in the best interests of Canadians to purchase that leaky 65-year-old pipeline.
This is the same government that feels the need to tell us every day that climate change is real and that we should invest in green technology. This is the same government that tells us that it believes debate is important while pushing for time allocation and presenting omnibus bills. This is from the same government that promised changes to the electoral system, but abandoned that promise. This is coming from the same government that has tirelessly told us that its relationship with first nations, Métis, and Inuit people is the most important relationship it has. This is the same government that believes in a nation-to-nation consultation and insists on denying the rights of first nations, Métis, and Inuit people. This is the same government that will not support my private member's bill to make National Indigenous Peoples Day a statutory holiday.
The government is not protecting the rivers and lakes that first nations, Métis, and Inuit people use every day for hunting, fishing, and trapping. First nation, Métis, and Inuit people believe that water is life, and protecting it from waste, pollution, and damage is crucial. Nothing about the government's purchase of the pipeline would do anything to protect our land or our water. It is awful that the government thinks it can hide this fact. First nation, Métis, and Inuit people strongly believe that water is life and they will protect it at all costs.
We have heard repeatedly from the Minister of Natural Resources that the Liberals have consulted with 43 first nations who have given their consent for this project, which is enough for the Liberals to purchase this pipeline and force this project. If the government did its due diligence, it would find that there are far more first nations, Métis, and Inuit people who are opposed to the pipeline than in support of it.
We could go back and forth all day with lists of who supports and who opposes this pipeline, but I believe that today's motion is more about the principle than resentment.
[Member speaks in Dene]
I am a Dene woman who comes from northern Saskatchewan, and 75% of the people in my riding identify as first nation or Métis people. Many struggle to find work, affordable housing, access to clean water, or health care that meets their needs.
The Kinder Morgan pipeline project does not reach my home province, but the decisions the government has made are felt by the people back home. Too often I am told that our community lacks the resources to do a number of projects. There is never enough money for clean water, mental health, youth programs, or health care. Therefore, it comes as a shock to many in the north that there is now enough money for pipelines. People at home have been encouraged by the government's action on UNDRIP and the indigenous languages act, and love to see first nation issues placed at the highest importance in Ottawa, but have seen their hopes for a better future crushed by the news that companies in Texas are more important than they.
However, not all hope is lost. Folks back home regularly tell me how inspired they are by the resilience of the first nation people in British Columbia. We recognize the importance of the elders guiding us against the pipeline, and we are inspired by their stories of resilience and strength to protect the rights of first nations, Métis, and Inuit people.
We recognize the bravery of the first nations challenging the government in court. We stand firmly with the British Columbia Assembly of First Nations, the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, and the Assembly of First Nations. We raise our voices in support of the protesters on the ground opposing this pipeline. The fight for first nations, Métis, and Inuit rights has been going on for generations, and we will continue that fight in the future.
The concern of folks in northern Saskatchewan is that if the rights of first nations people in B.C. can be violated today, then perhaps it will be those of the people of Saskatchewan next. We hear so much about the duty to consult, the idea of free, prior, and informed consent, and how important it is to the Liberal government, but when it comes down to actually getting that consent, the government has shown that words are more important to it than action.
We hear from companies all the time about how they have done consultations with first nations, Métis, and Inuit people. Often, these consultations are single two-hour meetings held in languages that are not spoken by the locals. We know that when documents are signed, the vast majority of first nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples are uninformed and intentionally excluded.
A true consultation, with a goal of obtaining free, prior, and informed consent, takes time. First nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples are the ultimate judges on whether the consultation process has been meaningful.