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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was aboriginal.

Last in Parliament September 2008, as Liberal MP for Nunavut (Nunavut)

Won her last election, in 2006, with 40% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Fisheries June 12th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Fisheries persists on giving our valuable turbot quota to southern interests, which by rights belong to Nunavut through adjacency.

Why does the adjacency principle apply to other parts of the country but does not get considered for Nunavut quotas?

Why does he not treat our fishermen with respect? Is it because the government has no real intention of helping the people who live there and only wants the rich resources of Nunavut?

Aboriginal Affairs June 10th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, my heart goes out to all the people who were taken away from their families and sent away to residential schools. This I can relate to from personal experience.

Residential school survivors have experienced many things from being torn away from their families at a very young age and being sent to school so far away that they were lucky to see their parents once a year. Many did not go home for years. Imagine the culture shock of being immersed in another language and culture, with different foods and clothing and with some losing their language.

No matter how deeply scarred they are, many Inuit residential school survivors say they that want to be mentioned and acknowledged as Inuit residential school survivors. A generic apology is not enough, as each people suffered uniquely. Inuit should be recognized as such.

Foremost, the apology must be sincere and unconditional for the many injustices, for ruined lives and for the children who never returned home. Then true healing and reconciliation may begin for many.

D-Day June 6th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, today marks the 64th anniversary of D-Day, the beginning of the Allied effort to liberate the European continent from the scourge of Nazi oppression.

I stand in the House keenly aware of the sacrifices that were made by the brave young men of the Canadian Army, Navy and Air Force, aware of the lives that were lost, and aware of the valour that was displayed on that day.

Nobody can question the unparalleled success of our soldiers on that fateful day. In fact, Canadians can remember with pride that our boys pushed farther inland than any other nation, achieving many of the ambitious goals that had been set for them as part of Operation Overlord.

Yet we must never forget the terrible losses that our soldiers suffered. Forty-three airmen and 369 soldiers paid the ultimate price for our freedom on D-Day. It is in their honour and in their memory that I invite all members of the House to join with me in recognizing this anniversary of their final victory over the tyranny of evil.

Aboriginal Affairs May 29th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, Canada embarrassed itself on the world stage last year when the Conservative government opposed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Canada was one of only four countries in the world to oppose it when an overwhelming majority of countries, 143, voted in favour. Over 100 legal experts agreed that Canada did not have a legal basis to reject the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The government's opposition to the UN declaration went against the advice of its own officials. The government is hiding behind bogus arguments to defend its betrayal of Canada's aboriginal peoples.

Canada was once a leader on human rights issues. It is an international embarrassment that we would undermine the declaration at the UN. Now Canada is even blocking attempts to implement a similar document at the Organization of American States.

On this National Day of Action we are demanding that the Conservative government reverse its position and stand up for our rights.

Sealing Industry May 27th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Nunavut Legislative Assembly unanimously passed a motion calling upon the Government of Canada to act now and ban the use of the hakapik as a sealing tool in order to protect our traditional seal products market.

The imagine of the hakapik is being used successfully in misinformation campaigns against Canadian seal products even though the hakapik accounts for only 10% of the seals taken each year in southern Canada.

Inuit communities are under threat from this outdated, incorrect and misleading information by the animal rights fundraising industry, which wants European legislators to ban all trade in seal products within the European Union.

Inuit have always hunted seals for food, clothing and fuel, although not with the hakapik. This is a very important part of our culture.

Even if the Europeans permit an Inuit exemption, the entire market will be destroyed, so what help is that? If the Conservative government really wants to stand up--

Canadian Human Rights Act May 16th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I do not think this will ever cease to be a topic of discussion. One of the difficulties people might have is with the definition of customary laws or traditions. When we make laws in this country, they apply to everyone in the country. What we understand in one area might be different in other parts. For the sake of getting this legislation through the House, I think we are going to have to agree with the new non-derogation clause that has been put forth.

As I tell students when I speak with them, sometimes we have to pick and choose what fights we want to fight and what we want to die on. I have to say that we will agree with this new non-derogation clause for the sake of getting the legislation through.

Canadian Human Rights Act May 16th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I have no difficulty with the amendment that has been added to clause 1.2. I believe the line was “with the principle of gender equality”. Of all people, I will not have any difficulty with gender equality. I think this may alleviate some of the difficulties that some people were having with the amendment that we put forth in our committee.

As I said, we will be supporting these motions. I look forward to seeing how this plays out in the communities.

Unfortunately, I probably will not be in this House to see how that actually is implemented in the communities, but I will certainly be keeping an eye on it. I think that once we pass legislation in the House we should always take a look at some of the agreements that we have done and the legislation that we have passed. We should take the time to take a snapshot picture or see how it has affected the lives of the people in the communities affected by the legislation and policies that we pass.

Canadian Human Rights Act May 16th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-21. This has been very contentious legislation, as short as it is.

We have said many times that the Liberal Party supports the repeal of section 67. It is how the bill was drafted, how it was put forward without including the amendments that were proposed by the many witnesses who came before our committee. We have a great deal of trouble with that.

We have made many attempts in the years that I have been here to try to repeal section 67 of the Human Rights Act. Maybe part of the difficulty was that it was put in with other items, for example, in Bill C-6, with which the communities had great trouble. I want it to be on record that we were never against the repeal of section 67, as some of the press coverage has made us out to be.

The two pieces of legislation we are dealing with in the House today brings to light again the very statements of many aboriginal members. We tend to forget there are basic rights that we take for granted in our country, to which people in aboriginal communities do not have access. However, our party will support the two motions that have been put forth.

The point I want to make is there should have been a non-derogation clause in the legislation in the first place. If the Conservative government had put forth this legislation in the same way it did with the specific claims, with cooperation from the Assembly of First Nations, the bill would have been passed in the House by now and would have been put into practice already.

When the minister introduced Bill C-30, he talked about the great cooperation between the Assembly of First Nations and the government to put forth that bill. Again, if the Conservatives had that same kind of consultation and reaching out, the bill probably would have been in better form. As I said, our party will support both Motion No. 1 and Motion No. 2.

Judging by the questions I heard in our committee from some of the government members, they seemed to have great difficulty with understanding collective rights versus individual rights. We asked opposition members that there be some consideration of collective rights. Some people have interpreted that to mean we are giving the bands and, in some cases, the chiefs an out from what repealing section 67 would do.

I beg to differ. As I said in committee and in an earlier speech today, we are quick at looking at the negative of these initiatives, instead of looking at the positives. There could be different considerations that would actually be more beneficial and more appropriate to the people whom this legislation will serve.

One example I used was how we treated our elders. Because I come from a different community, I am not first nations but one of the Inuit from the first peoples of our country, we have very stated understandings in our culture. We respect the elders and we do certain things that cater to elders, which might not be considered in other cultures.

I remember giving one example at committee. When we check in at the airport we see all these different aisles for business class, for people with no baggage and for the regular lineup. I could see in one of our communities that we would have a lineup specifically for elders so they do not have to wait for 20 people ahead of them when they are trying to check in at the airport.

I give that example to show that when we look at different cultures and different ways of doing things it does not always have to be in a negative light. We do have some practices that I think would bring about better communities across this country if they were practised.

We have not survived as a people in some of the harshest climates in this country by not working together. We do many things that are good for the whole community. I know that is a very different understanding from that of a municipality divided into lots where everyone individually owns the lot their house is on. That is not always the case in our communities.

We have to understand that in many ways we think of ourselves as one group of people, not as individuals. Of course, we have come to appreciate the individual rights that we are learning along the way, but again I am stressing that when we look at situations that concern individual rights versus collective rights, all we are asking for is a certain understanding.

We are not saying that we should always rule in favour of collective rights. What we are trying to point out is that there should be some consideration when people come before the tribunal such that the tribunal tries to fully understand the makeup of the community, the customs of the people and the way things have been done traditionally.

I have stated before, and I will state it again, that just because we extend certain rights to people it does not mean they will all exercise them. There needs to be a transition phase that is respectful. In this case, I am very pleased that we were able to see the 36 months. The transition phase needs to educate people on what this means for them.

I live in a community where we can put cases before the tribunal, but we do not always see people taking advantage of that because we have not fully educated the people to let them know what their rights are. That is an ongoing process.

I am very supportive of people being given that opportunity in the first nations communities, just as we are trying to do with other pieces of legislation we are putting forth in the House to improve lives on reserves and in other aboriginal communities to get them to a level playing field.

In the other debate that I was talking in, I could not stress enough that in most cases we are looking for basic needs. We are looking for very basic things that other people take for granted. We want to make sure that first nations are able to participate in those same democratic processes that we have in this country.

I would very much like to see this legislation pass. I know that our party will be supporting it.

Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement Act May 16th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I fully understand where the member is coming from because sometimes we seem to be talking apples and oranges. When we hear things being discussed in the chamber, we tend to think of how it would actually relate to our communities and we see a total disconnect.

In previous speeches I have given in the House, I have gone on about the basic needs in our communities. We just want a place to live in. We just want our kids to be able to go to safe schools, and as the member said, to have a school. I live in a community without a hospital and without a doctor. We just want to be able to access health care. At the end of the day, these are very simple requests.

For a country that prides itself on democracy, we forget that some of these communities have great difficulty participating on that very basis in our country.

I sometimes see notices in my mailbox about someone who wants to make improvements on his or her land down the street. As someone who lives on that street I have the opportunity to say that I do not think the person should be improving his or her house in that way. I get a--

Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement Act May 16th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, as I previously said, there is no agreement of any kind that will satisfy every member. Whether we are talking about a union agreement or a collective agreement by a group of people or a municipality, we are never going to get 100% agreement. If there is one like that, I would be glad to see it.

That is what this country is built on: democracy. We say that if the majority of the people support it, then that is what goes ahead. If we were not a democratic country, I probably would not be sitting on this side. I would just decide by myself that I wanted to sit on that side even though I was democratically outvoted and it was declared that I could not be in the government. I would take an individual position and just say that I did not like the way that was done, so I would just sit on that side and decide for myself that this was the way I was going to do it. That is not the way we do things in this country.

As for talking about people living outside of the country making decisions, there was a court decision saying that it did not matter if people were not living on the reserve. They could still vote in their band elections and on issues happening on their reserves. That is a court case.

Are we going to respect the judicial system of this country? It was not the people who said they were going to vote whether they lived there or not. This was a court case, already settled, which allowed people to have the right to vote on their band elections and issues affecting their band. It was not that the people of Tsawwassen unilaterally decided that they would allow everyone with connections to their band to vote.

It is up to the band to make the agreement work for everyone, because as much as we might not agree with certain issues in any agreement, when 70% of the band members accept an agreement it says that the people have decided to take the risks that come with that agreement. Hopefully people can work out the local matters in a way that will work for everyone.