Mr. Chair, I will begin by acknowledging that we come together this evening on the traditional territory of the Algonquin people.
This evening I would like to talk about the government's commitments to reconciliation with indigenous peoples and how items included in the supplementary estimates (A), 2019-20, support our shared journey of healing and accelerate self-determination for first nations, Inuit and Métis in Canada.
As we begin this new session of Parliament, I would like to reiterate that our government's commitment to reconciliation with indigenous people is as strong as ever. This government continues to place the utmost importance on the relationship between the Crown and indigenous peoples. Reconciliation is too important to be a partisan issue, and I look forward to working with all parliamentarians across party lines to make significant and tangible progress on this journey.
A significant demonstration of our commitment is the fact that I address the committee today as the federal government's principal interlocutor with first nations, Inuit and Métis people, and not as the minister of Indian affairs. I am delighted to say that I was the very last minister to carry that title, and this past July the order in council was finalized to dissolve the archaic department known as INAC and establish new ministerial responsibilities for the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and the Minister of Indigenous Services.
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, INAC, was a vestige of colonial times. It was created to enforce the Indian Act and was in no way able to support indigenous peoples or establish partnerships in connection with their history, their situation and their particular aspirations.
I am very proud of what we have been able to accomplish working in true partnership with indigenous peoples. Together we have made significant progress but we still have much work to do. We must keep moving forward with a new level of commitment, determination and partnership. Above all, we must continue to build trust through stronger, more collaborative relationships with indigenous peoples, relationships founded on respect, co-operation, partnership and, above all, the affirmation of indigenous peoples' inherent and treaty rights.
The government's commitment to renewed relationships means working to support indigenous capacity building and indigenous peoples' vision of self-determination, including in the areas of fisheries, oceans, aquatic habitat and marine waterways.
These supplementary estimates provide $171 million to three organizations to advance the government's reconciliation strategy. The first item is $132 million to Fisheries and Oceans Canada to implement agreements signed in August 2019 with Elsipogtog and Esgenoôpetitj first nations in New Brunswick and the Maliseet of Viger in Quebec to advance reconciliation of fisheries and to continue engaging with indigenous communities and stakeholders on fisheries policies. The 10-year interim fisheries implementation agreements reaffirm our shared commitment to advance the recognition and exercise of these first nations' fishing and harvesting rights, a meaningful step towards self-determination.
These agreements were concluded in a spirit of collaboration and were built on the long and hard work of first nations to ensure that all members of the communities have job opportunities in the fishery.
The second item is $37 million to Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs to implement the Haíɫcístut Incremental House Post Agreement.
In July I signed this reconciliation agreement with Heiltsuk Chief Marilyn Slett in Bella Bella on British Columbia's central coast. The reconciliation agreement addresses the priorities that are the most important to Heiltsuk self-government, housing and infrastructure, economic development, and language revitalization and preservation.
I was interested to learn that Haíɫcístut is a Heiltsuk word that means to turn something around and make it right again. It is the perfect word for this reconciliation agreement. The road that Canada and the Heiltsuk nation have travelled has not always been easy. Canada put up many roadblocks along the way. What is changed is that now Canada is listening and we are taking our lead from the first nation.
The third item is $2 million to Parks Canada to support the negotiation of three components of the rights and reconciliation agreement with the Mi'kmaq, Maliseet, Wolastoqey and Peskotomuhkati, or Passamaquoddy, first nations: the stewardship of cultural and natural resources, the co-management of areas of mutual interest and the pursuit of a moderate livelihood.
At Parks Canada, natural and cultural heritage places established before 1982, the removal of indigenous peoples from traditionally used lands and the cessation of harvesting and cultural practices have resulted in profound cultural, spiritual and economic impact to individuals and communities.
The rights reconciliation agreements would include elements of harvesting and resource conservation and support capacity-building initiatives for the management of cultural resources. These resources support changes to existing monitoring resource conservation and planning processes, and the move towards the co-operative management of ecological and cultural resources.
Each one of us should ask what reconciliation means to us and how we can contribute to advancing it in our own way. Reconciliation is a path that must begin with listening, followed by action based on what we learned.
For much of the past century and a half, Canada was not listening. Instead, it put up barriers to true partnership with indigenous people and look where it has gotten us. We have to make the relationship right again. We need to embody the Haíɫcístut, a word of the Heiltsuk peoples which means to turn things around and make things right again, for all first nations, Métis, Inuit and indeed a better future for all Canadians. This will only happen if we accelerate the process to self-determination and self-government for all indigenous peoples based on how they want to define and govern themselves and how they want the relationship with the Crown to be.
We are determined to get this right, to work with indigenous peoples to break from the unacceptable status quo and build the Canada of tomorrow, a better Canada for everyone.