House of Commons Hansard #18 of the 43rd Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was school.

Topics

Bills of Exchange ActGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, it is always encouraging when we see on the floor of the House a recognition of just how important truth and reconciliation are to our nation. It goes beyond the chamber. In fact, we want to recognize it in all forms of society. One of the ways we do that is by acknowledging the calls to action. We have seen a number of areas where the government has responded to the calls to action, and we appreciate very much when we have that unanimous support for legislation.

My understanding is that the Bloc will be supporting the legislation. I just wanted to provide the member an opportunity for further comments.

Bills of Exchange ActGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

Bloc

Caroline Desbiens Bloc Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d’Orléans—Charlevoix, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his comments on our desire to advance the debate in this chamber and go beyond the simple exercise of our duties.

Clearly, we will not be voting in favour of a national day for truth and reconciliation simply to get another statutory holiday, without doing anything else. I think each and every one of us has an important role to play in our ridings to convey the importance of education, teaching, awareness and reconciliation in our respective communities.

I thank my colleague for giving me the opportunity to expand on that, since it is very important that the action we are taking here in the House be just the beginning, the start of concrete action on the part of each and every one of us to inspire and motivate those around us in our respective societies.

Bills of Exchange ActGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

Bloc

Christine Normandin Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her colourful and vibrant speech, as is typical of her.

I would like to hear a little more about these personal stories, like that of her grandfather. These are beautiful stories that help us reconcile, even just a tiny bit. I would like to know whether creating a special day like the one we are discussing will make it easier to share more of these beautiful stories, which are also part of the path to reconciliation.

Bills of Exchange ActGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

Bloc

Caroline Desbiens Bloc Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d’Orléans—Charlevoix, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her comments.

As the culture critic, I am doubly interested in how culture can contribute to reconciliation in our ridings and communities. I believe that it will be important to involve our cultural communities and get them working on this so that we can all be nourished by their creativity and so that this process of reconciliation, which is sometimes shrouded in sadness and charged with emotion, can be transformed into something positive, significant and even happy. If we can achieve reconciliation, we will all experience great joy.

I believe we are making progress, slow though it may be. The Bloc Québécois recognizes that and would like the process to move a little more quickly. We know that this bill has some limitations, but we recognize that it is an important gesture. We are certainly in favour of this major step.

Bills of Exchange ActGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, with regard to my colleague's comments on the process, this is just one part of an overall process. The next part is to get it through this chamber and to the Senate, and last time it failed there. It is always just words here until it becomes an actual law.

What are the member's thoughts with regard to getting this to the next stage and getting it through the Senate so it can come to fruition? Until that time, it is just words and theory; it is not really the day we want for all Canadians.

Bills of Exchange ActGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

Bloc

Caroline Desbiens Bloc Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d’Orléans—Charlevoix, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for this pertinent question.

Clearly, what we do here must be passed in the Senate. Hopefully it will happen this time, and the Senate will act quickly, with as much unanimity and good will as we have in this chamber. I truly hope so.

Bills of Exchange ActGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.

Bloc

Sylvie Bérubé Bloc Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Mr. Speaker, on September 29, the Minister of Canadian Heritage introduced Bill C-5, An Act to amend the Bills of Exchange Act, the Interpretation Act and the Canada Labour Code (National Day for Truth and Reconciliation), an act to amend the Bills of Exchange Act, the Interpretation Act and the Canada Labour Code regarding a national day for truth and reconciliation.

The purpose of this bill is to respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's call to action number 80 by creating a holiday called the national day for truth and reconciliation, which seeks to honour first nations, Inuit and Métis survivors and their families and communities and to ensure that public commemoration of their history and the legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.

If passed, the bill would add a new holiday, namely, national day for truth and reconciliation, which would be observed every year on September 30.

The Bloc Québécois has repeatedly pledged to be an ally of first nations people. That is why we will vote for this bill in principle, because it is part of the process of reconciliation with indigenous peoples, responds to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's recommendations, and will keep the memory of the tragedy experienced by residential school survivors alive and foster an ongoing public dialogue about our national history.

There is no denying that residential schools are a real blot on Canada's history. Between 1874 and 1996, there were 130 residential schools in Canada attended by over 150,000 indigenous children. The living conditions in those schools were poor. One of the direct causes of the sickness and deaths that occurred was the grossly inadequate funding from the government, which meant the food was of low quality, quantity and variety. The children in most residential schools had to cope with loneliness, a lack of contact with parents and family, frustration with not being allowed to speak their mother tongue, poor quality teaching, hunger, institutionalization, overwork, strict rules, brutality, and the fact that there was no one they could trust.

When they arrived at the residential schools, the children were stripped of their personal belongings and traditional clothing. They had their hair cut off and their names changed, and they were assigned a number. They were given new clothing, white people's clothing, which differed depending on what age group they were in. The children were punished if they spoke their mother tongue. These schools left them scarred and deeply traumatized. Most residential school survivors tell stories of loneliness, strict discipline, and physical, sexual, pedophilic and psychological abuse. Being separated from their parents and families was just the first trauma they endured. The children had to deal with a new culture, a new language and a new disciplinary system imposed on them by white people. Taking these children out of their communities, uprooting them, stripping them of their culture and destabilizing communities that had been shunted onto reserves resulted in deep trauma and social upheaval.

Every year, since September 30, 2013, we have been encouraged to wear orange in honour of the indigenous children who were sent to residential schools. Orange Shirt Day has become an opportunity to keep the discussion on all aspects of residential schools happening. The date was chosen because it is the time of year in which children were taken from their homes to residential schools, and because it is an opportunity to set the stage for anti-racist and anti-bullying policies for the coming school year. It is also an opportunity for first nations, local governments, schools and communities to come together in the spirit of reconciliation and hope for generations of children to come.

Phyllis Webstad started Orange Shirt Day to teach Canadians about the residential school system and to honour the survivors and their families. This day was inspired by Phyllis's own experience. On her first day at a residential school in British Columbia in 1973, her new orange shirt, a gift from her grandmother, was confiscated. She never got it back. This story is a sad example of how the residential school system sought to assimilate and colonialize indigenous children.

From a more technical point of view, the bill we are debating today amends three acts to bring about a single change: establishing September 30 as the national day for truth and reconciliation and making it a statutory holiday. The three acts in question are the Bills of Exchange Act, the Interpretation Act and the Canada Labour Code.

Clause 1 of the bill clearly situates its purpose within the context of the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Clause 2 of the bill amends subparagraph 42(a)(i) of the Bills of Exchange Act to add the new national day for truth and reconciliation to the list of statutory holidays covered by the act. In practical terms, what this means is that, if Bill C-5 is passed, September 30 will no longer count in the calculation of deadlines shorter than three days as set out in the Bills of Exchange Act. Consequently, a bill of exchange or cheque payable by September 30 will be payable on the next business day.

Clause 3 of the bill amends the portion of the definition of “holiday” in paragraph (a) of subsection 35(1) of the Interpretation Act to include the new national day for truth and reconciliation. The act guides the courts in interpreting federal legislation. The new statutory holiday would therefore be enshrined in federal legislation.

Clause 4 of the bill amends section 166 of part III of the Canada Labour Code to include the proposed new day in the definition of “general holiday”.

Clause 5 of the bill amends subsection 193(2) of the Canada Labour Code to entitle employees to a holiday with pay on the working day immediately preceding or following the general holiday if the holiday falls on the weekend.

Clause 6 provides that the bill will come into force two months after it receives royal assent on the day with the same calendar number as the day on which it receives royal assent or the last day of that second month. For example, if the bill receives royal assent on December 30, 2020, it would come into force on February 28, 2021. It it receives royal assent on January 1, 2021 it would come into force on March 1, 2021.

As you know, the riding of Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, which I represent here in the House, has several families who survived residential schools. It is therefore important to me that this bill is passed out of respect for them and in the interest of remembrance.

In the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, two quotes caught my attention.

The first is, “Survivors shared their memories with Canada and the world so that the truth could no longer be denied. Survivors also remembered so that other Canadians could learn from these hard lessons of the past. They want Canadians to know, to remember, to care, and to change.”

All those who attended residential school suffered terribly from being separated from their parents, their brothers and sisters and their culture.

This is the second quotation: “The federal government's policy of assimilation sought to break the chain of memory that connected the hearts, minds, and spirits of Aboriginal children to their families, communities, and nations.”

Imagine for a moment being taken from your family, denied your culture, your nation and your language, having to wear different clothing than what you are used to, and living entirely differently. We would be damaged for the rest of our lives.

In closing, commemoration requires more than just the declaration of a special day as proposed in Bill C-5. It needs to happen through ceremonies and activities that will spark dialogue on the history of Indian residential schools. However, these measures must not relieve society of its responsibility for past mistakes.

Bills of Exchange ActGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I wanted to highlight something from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, which is the calls to action. It says, “In order to redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the process of Canadian reconciliation, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission makes the following calls to action.” Then they made 94 calls.

I would like to go to the 80th and ask the member to provide her thoughts in terms of just how important these calls to action are. This is what call number 80 states:

We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, to establish, as a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to honour Survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.

Can the member provide her thoughts on the importance of the calls to action?

Bills of Exchange ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Bloc

Sylvie Bérubé Bloc Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

Indeed, call to action number 80 states, “We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, to establish, as a statutory holiday”. They should not have to ask. As I have always said, there have been discussions with indigenous peoples for years, almost a century, and no action has been taken by the government.

This act is very important because action will finally be taken and it is proof of the government's will.

Bills of Exchange ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to just take a moment and acknowledge former MP Georgina Jolibois for bringing this issue forward. If it were not for her, I do not know if the bill would actually be before us today, so I definitely want to acknowledge her. I was very pleased to second her bill at the time.

The minister made comments earlier about the importance of this day being about education. With respect to education, does the member think the government should in fact put initiatives and resources in place to support education on the history of indigenous peoples in Canada and how we can all collectively take action on the path to reconciliation?

Bills of Exchange ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Bloc

Sylvie Bérubé Bloc Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my dear colleague for her idea.

Education is very important. Indigenous peoples have problems. They do not have enough money. There is the issue of the transfer of resources for education and the commemoration to be observed. It is important that the government again take steps to establish an effective solution for indigenous peoples and communities.

Bills of Exchange ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Bloc

Kristina Michaud Bloc Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her speech.

One trap that we must not fall into is making this statutory holiday an ordinary holiday like any other.

I liked the suggestion made earlier by a Conservative member who said that we, as parliamentarians, have a major role to play and that we must take the initiative, in collaboration with indigenous communities, to do something special on that day.

I would like to know whether my colleague thinks that the government should go a bit further in supporting this type of commemoration activity when we celebrate September 30.

Bills of Exchange ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Bloc

Sylvie Bérubé Bloc Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her kind words.

It is important that this not be just another holiday, as my colleague and other members just said. It must be a way of supporting reconciliation with indigenous people. The reconciliation process is very important, as are the recommendations given by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. They ensure that people do not forget the trauma endured by residential school survivors. It is time to move forward. The tragedy endured by the victims will forever be a part of their lives.

The government needs to show some humility. It must finally take action and pass Bill C-5.

Bills of Exchange ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

NDP

Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to be here today to speak to Bill C-5, an act to amend the Bills of Exchange Act, the Interpretation Act and the Canada Labour Code, National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the MP who brought this bill forward initially, Georgina Jolibois. I am continuously inspired by her work and by her amazing representation of indigenous communities across Canada.

We are here today for many reasons. This bill is really about the reality that on September 30 we celebrate Orange Shirt Day, a national day to recognize truth and reconciliation. We want to take that day and make it into a statutory holiday, one where all members of Canada are committed to being a part of recognizing this part of our history: the stealing of children from their families; the many deaths of indigenous children during these terrible, long, dark times; and the trauma and torture they and their families experienced.

An elder from my riding named Alberta Billy once told me to imagine what would happen to myself and my community if every child from the age of four to 16 were suddenly removed. No one knew who they were with and who was caring for them. That always hits me hard. I cannot imagine any of us thinking about all our precious children, however we know them, being removed from our communities, and the silence and sadness that would hit all of us as we looked around and did not see their beautiful faces.

This day should be a day where Canadians understand the incredible resilience of indigenous communities, because they are still here in the face of such adversity.

Today, I would like to take this opportunity to recognize my husband, Darren Blaney, who is a survivor of residential school. When he was in residential school, his number was 97. When I think about a soul, a human being, identified by a number and losing so much more of their identity, I am absolutely heartbroken.

Many members in this House have spoken about the importance of education in this bill. I want to let people know that as of March 31, 2019, the government had only spent $4.5 million over its four years on education initiatives around indigenous history and residential school. This is simply not sufficient and not strategic, but is another piecemeal approach to this complex and dire situation the country needs to understand more fulsomely.

I want this day to be treated in the future with the sacred solemness it deserves. That means resources so all Canadians can take the moment and the time to remember these beautiful souls and the reality they and their communities are faced with. We want people to remember the story of Phyllis Jack, whose beautiful and sad story gives us Orange Shirt Day. She was six when she went to residential school. Her grandmother bought her a beautiful orange shirt to wear.

Who does not have a memory attached to those first days of school? It is a moment where, as kids, we felt proud, a piece of clothing that tells a child they are loved. As a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle or loved one, we sometimes buy a special piece of clothing for the first day of school knowing that in that act, we are sending that child into something new and sometimes scary, with a little bit of love.

In residential school, imagine how much more important this was. Not only were we buying a beautiful piece of clothing for a beloved child. We also knew that child would be leaving their family. They would leave and not understand how long it would be until they got to see their family again.

Imagine being a grandmother and feeling the utter hopelessness and fear of being forced to send a beloved grandchild to residential school, knowing all that grandmother can do is buy a shirt to somehow comfort that small body who will soon be longing for family and home. All too often in the history of Canada and today in Canada, indigenous people, communities and children are dehumanized.

Today there are still just too many children being taken from their homes into care through apprehension. These numbers are even higher than the numbers of children taken from their families to be put in residential schools. This is something that we all must be accountable for as Canadians. We must all understand that we have an obligation. Every time the government does not fulfill the compliance orders that are asked of it, it shows again that the dehumanization of indigenous children is continuing and it is not okay. We must always speak against it, not just in platitudes but in action and in resources so that those communities can begin to rebuild in a more profound and sustainable way.

We know that there are still too many suicides in indigenous communities across Canada. One chief in my riding told me not too long ago, “I am working so hard to build up an economic base of strength for my community so that we can have a future that is positive and something hopeful for our young people, but when I have young people hanging themselves in our community, it is so hard to continue to push and to build. These are the everyday lived experiences of indigenous communities across this country. We cannot pretend that it is not directly linked to colonialism and to the residential school history that this country holds and still does not disclose in a more profound way so that we can all carry this burden, not just indigenous communities.”

We continue to work in our indigenous communities across Canada because of generations of residential school. That is important to recognize. This is generations of residential school, generations of communities that were suddenly empty of every child between the ages of four and 16. What does that do to a people and a community, and how do they rebuild after generations and generations? They only rebuild by resiliency, which indigenous communities have displayed again and again, but they also need the resources to be able to do that.

Parents are still learning how to parent. Traditions are still coming back to our communities and those communities need to be supported to allow parents the time to learn how to parent, build those capacities. A lot of communities across my riding have been asking for support. They want to see things get better in their communities. They see those beautiful pearls of resilience and growth and strength, but they need the resources to invest in them.

When I hear people say again and again, sadly, that it is over, that those days are over, the history is over and indigenous people need to get over it, I am both devastated and angry. It is not over. We are seeing that today in situations in indigenous communities across this country. We are seeing that today with the RCMP not responding appropriately when they should, because they do not know how to do it. We need to do better than that and Canada needs to do better than that. The impacts of residential schools and colonialism are not over; they are resounding through this country every single day.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission report stated, “Reconciliation is not an Aboriginal problem; it is a Canadian one. Virtually all aspects of Canadian society may need to be reconsidered.”

The bill is a small step, but it is a step toward all of Canadian society reconsidering, reviewing and looking at things differently. One of the things that I know to be true is that impact and intent can totally be separated. When we look at systemic racism and we look at racism, some people know an intent that they may have, but they do not understand the impact. We must be responsible for our impact, not only our intent.

Today, as we go through the reality, we know that systemic racism continues to be a huge issue and all Canadians have to be responsible for addressing it.

I want to talk about systemic racism because I have people tell me that they do not understand what systemic racism means. We are seeing it right now in the Mi'Kmaq community. The reality is no one should be surprised that this has been the outcome. The fact is that the federal government did not take leadership, did not create a plan and did not create space for this disconnect; it created a space for discontent and violence and for it to continue to grow.

Reconciliation is a Canadian problem, and one that has a long history.

We need a government that will actually pay attention and create a plan so that we do not get to these places where people are incredibly unsafe, where the disruption in the community is profound and the wounds will take a long time to heal. It is unfair that the federal government does not take leadership and instead allows small indigenous communities to face these challenges with few or no resources to address them. That is systemic racism. Not having a plan is systemic racism.

Systemic racism can also look like other things, and this brings me back to the intention and the impact. My son, when he was in grade 5, went to school one day. When he was in class, the teacher brought them to the library and sat the classroom down. The librarian showed a picture of a class of children at a residential school and asked them, “What do you see in this picture?” The indigenous children, all with their hair severely cut, looked very sad. They were all wearing uniforms.

A lot of the children had things to say, like, “Maybe they didn't get their hot lunch” or “Maybe they were planning to go on a trip but they didn't get to, and that is why they are so sad.”

My son talked about sitting in that room, listening to a lot of non-indigenous young people give their ideas. He talked about his pain and frustration as he looked at that picture were because he knew immediately what that was. As he listened to the other children not knowing what it was, it made him realize how alone he was, how so few people understand the history of this country, and how much pressure he felt to have to educate and disclose the reality.

Finally, it burst out of him. He said, “Maybe it is because they are indigenous children in residential school and all they want is to go home to their parents.”

I do not think this teacher had any bad intention. I believe her complete intention was to educate and to show the kids in the class the history of Canada, but she did not think about the impact.

This is so important. I have had a lot of young people talk to me and their parents about Orange Shirt Day, and how that day actually scares them. As indigenous children, as they learn this history, they become fearful that they may be taken from their families. The impact can often be unintended. That is why it is so important, when we address systemic racism, that we begin to ask questions, that we be curious about these issues, and that we stop putting the burden of educating on indigenous families, children and communities.

Years later, when my son moved up to middle school, he was actually able to work with his father on a piece of art for his school to recognize the history of indigenous residential school. This piece of art is still hanging in Southgate Middle School. It was a transformation mask that talked about the intention of residential school to take the Indian out of the child. On the front of it, there is a white face that opens up and shows an indigenous face. My son was very proud when they brought it to the school. It gave him the ability to talk about the history that was a reality for him every day in his life.

It is important, as this bill says, to dedicate a day to recognize the amazing power and resilience of the first people of this land. I want to make sure that this is really recognized as a part of this day. My granny went to Lejac Residential School in British Columbia for the majority of her childhood.

She was a fierce woman who I admired greatly and was slightly terrified of. I never once in my life saw her in a pair of pants. Even in the coldest parts of winter, she was always done up, wearing a dress, her hair and face made up, and often wearing a fabulous hairpiece, which she was known for.

She used to tell me, frequently, “No complaining, Rachel, we are still here. If you don't like it, work on fixing it.” It took me years to understand that she was teaching me the power of indigenous people across country, We are still here, and the guilt of non-indigenous people and what they feel is really not helpful.

In the face of colonial history, including initial contact, there has been smallpox, residential school, racism, systemic racism, child apprehension and constant interference, at all levels of government, in indigenous communities and their ability to create economic development. In the continuous face of all these challenges, generation after generation, indigenous people are still here, still fighting and still finding a way to hold on to their traditions and their history. They are still here.

When I think of Orange Shirt Day, I think of my granny who survived tremendous challenges, and of my dad and my aunties and uncles who have worked so hard to reclaim our culture and our history and make sure that her grandchildren have had that connection.

This bill would help acknowledge, for one day, the history of this country and the current reality of this history. There is so much work to be done. I hope that all members in the House and all Canadians understand that we must all be part of working toward that. This is one step. It is not enough, but it is a step, and in all the steps that we take we continue to move forward. This bill moved through the House before, in the last Parliament, and it died in the Senate. I certainly hope that does not happen again.

In closing, there have been conversations among the parties and if you seek it, I hope you will find unanimous consent for the following motion: That, notwithstanding any standing order or usual practice of the House, at the expiry of the time provided for government orders this day or when no members rise to speak, whichever comes first, Bill C-5, an act to amend the Bills of Exchange Act, the Interpretation Act and the Canada Labour Code, National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, shall be deemed to have been read a second time and referred to a committee of the whole; deemed considered in committee of the whole; deemed reported, without amendment; deemed concurred in at report stage; and deemed read a third time and passed.

Bills of Exchange ActGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

This being a hybrid sitting of the House, and for the sake of clarity, I will ask for only those who are opposed to express their disagreement. Accordingly, all those opposed to the hon. member for North Island—Powell River moving the motion please say nay.

Bills of Exchange ActGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Bills of Exchange ActGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Accordingly, there is no unanimous consent.

Bills of Exchange ActGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, it would have been nice to see this bill proceed as there is a great deal of expectation among many groups to recognize the importance of the issue. Having said that, I was impressed with the member's sharing of those personal stories. I thank her for doing that.

The member was talking about the severity of the impact on children. In the province of Manitoba, there were in excess of 10,000 children in foster care. I do not know the actual number today, but what is quite striking is I believe over 90% are of indigenous background.

What it emphasizes to me is that there is so much more that we still need to do. We need governments and indigenous leaders to come together and do more collectively so that we can try to keep more harmony within the family unit.

I wonder if the member might be able to add some thoughts from her perspective in terms of what Ottawa could be doing, working with others, to try to deal with this very serious issue.

Bills of Exchange ActGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I hope the member takes some time to look at the reality of his own government. Bill C-92 came up in the last Parliament. One of the things that was fought for, by me as the vice-chair of the indigenous and northern affairs committee and by many indigenous leaders across Canada, was the amount of resources the people need to get this work done.

The reason indigenous children are in care today at such high rates is because we have had continuous Conservative and Liberal governments pass the buck and continue to use language like the parliamentary secretary did in his question: to get indigenous communities to come together and create solutions. They are coming together. They are working hard every day because they do not want to see their children leaving their communities. What they require are the resources. Any time any government wants to stand up and be accountable for that I will be happy to work with it, but I still have not seen it.

Bills of Exchange ActGovernment Orders

October 23rd, 2020 / 1:10 p.m.

Bloc

Marilène Gill Bloc Manicouagan, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from North Island—Powell River for her speech. It left me speechless. I understand the depth of emotion in her speech. I agree with her that we must not forget.

We are talking about designating a day of commemoration, and I am absolutely certain that it is essential for these communities. I have many friends, young and old, who belong to the Innu nation and the Naskapi nation. Through no fault of their own, they were part of a real cultural genocide. I am feeling a little emotional, but I imagine that will be part of the conversation we need to have with first nations peoples.

My colleague also mentioned the need for actions and resources. Time is also part of the equation. I hope that everyone will vote in favour of this bill.

In her opinion, what actions need to be taken quickly and urgently, and what resources are needed?

Bills of Exchange ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Mr. Speaker, for me, the resources most urgently needed are resources to support families to help children stay at home, and to look at and address systemic racism across Canada. When we see such high numbers of indigenous children being removed, we need to ask more questions and stop laying blame on families who are struggling. All families have to be accountable, but we need resources there to support those families.

Moving forward, we also need actual resources and planning so indigenous communities are not dealing with huge crises such as the ones we are seeing right now across our country. They need to have those supports beforehand so they are not left cleaning up significant messes.

Bills of Exchange ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Green

Jenica Atwin Green Fredericton, NB

Mr. Speaker, I wish to sincerely congratulate the member for North Island—Powell River on that incredible speech. There should not be a dry eye in the House. That was amazing, and I just wish to send her my love and appreciation.

The member mentioned the ongoing issue of the fishery dispute in Nova Scotia. Could the member perhaps comment on the juxtaposition of the idea for a national holiday and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission with what we are seeing on the ground, regarding protecting the rights of indigenous people, and how we continue to fail? I would like to hear what she would say about that.

Bills of Exchange ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's congratulations and her response to the important subject we are talking about today and the personal stories I have to share. When I look at what is happening with the Mi'kmaq, I remember a chief saying to me not too long ago that if there is a court decision where the indigenous people do not win, it is implemented the next day, but if a court decision is made and the indigenous people do win, it takes 21 years.

I look at this and think, how long do indigenous communities have to wait? How long are we going to have governments that say their rights and title are something they can negotiate, and how long are we going to have decisions that say indigenous people are allowed to make a moderate living?

I hope everybody takes a moment to think about what that actually means. It means they can make a little bit, but not too much, because if they have too much what independence could they take that the government could not fight back? That is a continuous concern. Economic development in indigenous communities has been put by the wayside by different levels of government repeatedly, and that is a part of reconciliation we have to own.

Bills of Exchange ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Milton Ontario

Liberal

Adam van Koeverden LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth and to the Minister of Canadian Heritage (Sport)

Mr. Speaker, I only rise today to express solidarity to the member for North Island—Powell River. I watched intently as she expressed her emphatic desire to have this passed. I also wanted to rise to express disappointment that it will not be as expedient as we had hoped. I know I should be framing this as a question, and I will, but I wanted to go on the record and express solidarity and an interest in supporting her, her community and various other indigenous communities in any way possible.

My question is, how can I help?

Bills of Exchange ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his statement and bit of a question.

One of the things the elders told me is that it is not our job to fix this. I think people do the work inside themselves and make sure that they are understanding the history and not putting that on indigenous people to teach them.

The member is on the government side, so I hope he is working hard to let the others know that they need to fund appropriately the services and supports that are needed for communities. If we want to see strong and resilient indigenous communities, which they are doing mostly on their own, they need to get the adequate resources to take the next step and we need to get out of their way.