Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was aboriginal.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as Liberal MP for Churchill River (Saskatchewan)

Lost his last election, in 2004, with 10% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government Act April 21st, 2004

Madam Speaker, the Tlicho have been very persistent to include resources in the Tlicho agreement. The land, water and minerals are part of the Tlicho agreement. In order to be vibrant in any of our first nations communities or first nations territories, we must have access to resources.

We must have access to resources not only for development or commercialization or profit making, but for training in the many trades that are included in the mining industry, the forest industry, and also to be vibrant in the new technologies that are taking place. A lot of these machines are now practically robots, where one individual can operate huge machines the size of this room with a joystick. To keep that type of technology maintained--not only the mechanics but the whole aspect of high tech because it is microchip technology--our people must be challenged into that type of technology.

Maybe some day the Tlicho will design a truly Canadian vehicle. I have been waiting. Volvo is a Swedish automobile and North American automobiles are basically American: Dodge, Chevrolet and Ford. Maybe some day we will have a Canadian automobile, which can be an all terrain vehicle, besides Bombardier.

Maybe the Tlicho, or somebody from the Dene, or maybe somebody from the north will design it where it can be driven through a muskeg, a true challenge for the Canadian north. Instead of paved highways, maybe this kind of vehicle would be truly all terrain. We need that kind of challenge; however, we need access to those resources.

There are special metals and special gifts that we were given, just like the responsibility of uranium. Huge tracks of uranium are entirely in the Dene regions of northern Canada. There are huge uranium mines in my northern region of Churchill River. However, that precious metal that is used for energy is also a responsibility because it can also do damage. We not only have rights but responsibilities.

This self-government agreement is based on responsibilities. There are huge responsibilities for the environment, training, and creating a better economy and quality of life for the people. It is based on the management of resources. There is no leverage if there is no leverage of negotiating these land resource deals.

I thank the hon. member for Yukon for raising this. It is certainly a significant part of the self-government deal. Without the provisions of resource management and access to resource development in the Tlicho agreement, the Tlicho people would not have the leverage to have a sound government and to have a sound future for economic or social development in that region.

Sustainable development is critical and the people at both community levels will be making those decisions. It is very important that the decision making level be brought to those people, not to bureaucrats in a department here in Ottawa or some other region like Yellowknife or Edmonton or some far off region. We must trust those people to make the decisions for their people and the people living among them for the greater good of the Northwest Territories and for the greater good of our country.

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government Act April 21st, 2004

Madam Speaker, for clarification, the self-government agreement includes the territories of the Tlicho, where the original chief, when outlining his traditional territory, would incorporate Great Slave Lake, Great Bear Lake and the Mackenzie River. This is a huge triangle that takes up 39,000 square kilometres.

However, the Tlicho people are also part of the Dene nation. The Dene nation must be recognized and celebrated as well. It must also be unified under a confederacy, as was envisioned by the peacemaker. It was a gift that was given to us here on this land. It was a man that was given to us with a message.

We have clan mothers of the Oneida nation, one of the original five nations of the Iroquois confederacy. That was a gift under the law of peace. There is an opportunity under this self-government agreement where the people of the Tlicho can govern their affairs within their territory, but there are provisions in this agreement that enables them to create opportunities within their Dene nation for greater associations and collectivity among their nation and other united nations.

The nations of this land must unite as one and live under the law of peace and that law of peace can be a gift that Canada can give to the world. The world is in so much strife right now--in the Middle East, in the south, and in every direction. There are conflicts. Maybe that gift of peace is here, but we as the original nations must come together as nations. We must collect ourselves.

This self-government deal does not stop that. It creates provisions that the Tlicho can continue allegiance with the Dene nation and the Dene nation can seek allegiance, confederacy and alliance with the Cree, the Mohawk, the Oneida, the Tuscarora, the Seneca and the Cayuga. They can all be a collective and that is what Canada may not realize, but this real gift of peace is under our realm.

The original confederacy of the united nations under the Iroquois confederacy was looked at when the independence of the United States was being created, but it only looked at the virtual copy of the united nations under the law of peace. It only took a xerox copy. It never took the real spirit of intent of this law of peace. Canada has the opportunity to look at the real law of peace, to recognize it, and to allow these nations to come together to celebrate and nurture this peace.

I welcome the clan mothers who are in the House. I say to them to keep that sacred gift alive. I wish to commend the clan mothers of the Dene and the Tlicho, and hope that the mothers will find a way for peace because in war-strife countries it is the woman that will play a significant role in searching for a peaceful existence among our people.

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government Act April 21st, 2004

Madam Speaker, I rise today in support of Bill C-31, the Tlicho land claims and self-government act. This bill represents the aspirations of a principled and trustworthy people determined to honour commitments made by their ancestors.

[Editor's Note: Member spoke in Cree]


What I have said in my language is that it is a great honour to look at a region that was ascertained by Treaty No. 11 and to look at the treaty signatories of these communities, the ancestors, and the youth, with their aspirations for the future. This will be a public form of government. Not only will it be inclusive of aboriginal people, the Tlicho, the Dogrib people of Treaty No. 11, but the Tlicho are making provisions for all people who live within their territory to be a part of that governance.

That kind of vision is very welcome, for my people in the northern half of the province of Saskatchewan. I urge them to look at that sort of governance. Aboriginal and non-aboriginal people can work together, coming together as one, and create a governance structure that can serve all our needs.

For more than a decade, the Tlicho have led a comprehensive process of consultations and negotiations. The fruit of those efforts, the Tlicho agreement, forms the centrepiece of the legislation that is now before us.

Today we are considering a bill that would significantly influence the destiny of a people. In the interests of the Tlicho and all Canadians, I believe we must give our wholehearted support to this legislation.

The agreement at the heart of the legislation is significant in many ways. It marks the first agreement in the Northwest Territories to include comprehensive land claims and self-government. It would provide certainty for the exercise of aboriginal and treaty rights within the traditional territory of the Tlicho, almost 20% of the Northwest Territories itself.

Within their traditional area, the Tlicho would gain ownership of a parcel of land, 39,000 square kilometres in total, along with self-government powers and control of land and resources within that area. The amount of money involved is also substantial. Approximately $150 million would be paid out over several years. The Tlicho would also be guaranteed a share of the revenues generated from resource development in the Mackenzie Valley.

The process that led to the agreement was remarkable and comprehensive. Consultations and negotiations went on for over 10 years. Hundreds of sessions were held, involving dozens of private and public sector groups and thousands of people. The tripartite agreement that emerged from these efforts involves Canada, the Tlicho and the Government of the Northwest Territories. In fact, the territorial assembly has already passed legislation to ratify this agreement and will enact two other related pieces of legislation in the near future.

To ensure that the tripartite agreement respects the interests of all other aboriginal groups, the Tlicho negotiated separate overlap agreements with the Sahtu Dene and Métis, the Gwich'in, the Deh Cho and the Akaitcho Treaty No. 8 Dene.

As my esteemed colleagues have recognized, the Tlicho have gone to extraordinary lengths to secure an agreement suited to their unique situation. To appreciate the significance of the agreement's particular future, it is important to know a bit of Tlicho history.

The Tlicho are a Dene people. They are of the Dene nation. They are nomadic, historically using and occupying vast tracts of land near the Mackenzie River, Great Bear Lake and Great Slave Lake. They lived off the land and often followed migrating herds of caribou. The land was revered because it provided sustenance, and its value was incalculable.

European explorers called them the Dogrib, a name that stuck with them for a century or more. Explorers brought new diseases such as measles and influenza, which decimated the aboriginal population, but the Dogrib found a way to survive and to maintain their relationship with the land.

When oil and gas were discovered in the 1920s in the north, treaty negotiations that followed quickly gathered momentum. At a ceremony in Fort Rae in 1921, Treaty No. 11 was signed by Chief Monfwi. Annuities were paid to 440 members of the Dogrib Band. More than eight decades later, the anniversary of the signing ceremony is still celebrated in the Tlicho communities. Ceremonies of the treaty's signatory should also be celebrated by Canadians. This historic agreement created our country, and Canada is truly a treaty nation.

When Treaty No. 11 was signed, Chief Monfwi traced the traditional lands of his people on a map. The boundaries, as he described, are identical, almost nearly to the line, of what is included in Bill C-31 today. The vision of the chief and the vision of his people was exact.

The treaty is also culturally significant to the Tlicho. In recognition of this, a unique provision in the agreement incorporates two aspects of the original treaty: payment of annuities and teachers' salaries. Education has always been a high priority for the Tlicho.

Given the geography and lack of development, the treaty did not result in the creation of Indian reserves, as in other regions of the country, or the disturbance of the Dogrib from their traditional lands as they moved around from lakes to rivers to all the traditional hunting and gathering regions of their territory. The treaty was seen by the Dogrib as a treaty of peace and friendship rather than one involving land issues.

The region's history informs the substance of our debate here in countless other ways as well. For instance, how the Tlicho reacted to the expansion of mainstream culture. As non-aboriginal society moved northward, some of the Tlicho began to feel that their traditions were being threatened.

Chief Jimmy Bruneau called on the Tlicho to “be strong like two people”. To strive in the changing world, the Tlicho would need to learn the aboriginal and non-aboriginal cultures alike.

The strengths of the Tlicho were tested during the 1970s when a northern pipeline became economically feasible. The Berger inquiry was commissioned to investigate the potential social, environmental and economic impacts of this pipeline.

The inquiry proved to be a major turning point in the aboriginal relations. Television and newspaper coverage brought home stories of ancient cultures threatened by external developmental pressures. Berger's report predicted that the social consequences of a pipeline were not only serious, but also potentially devastating. His report recommended settling land claims before developing plans ahead. This has been the preclusion to the land claim negotiations that have been taking place.

Land claim negotiation processes were established to address this and to clarify land and resource rights and protect cultures. This is an integral part of this agreement. Land claim agreements were reached with the Inuvialuit in 1984, with the Gwich’in in 1992 and the Sahtu, Dene and Metis in 1994. Over the past decade, the Tlicho pursued their agreements based on land and self-government rights.

Three decades after the Berger inquiry, first nations and Inuit communities are better able to benefit from resource development projects in the north. As well, there has been evidence that development does not need to be postponed until land claim agreements and negotiations are fully completed. It is possible for aboriginal communities, with their leadership, to participate in development and build economic capacity while land claim negotiations proceed.

When diamonds were discovered on traditional lands, for instance, the Tlicho negotiated an impact and benefits agreement and implementation plan with the mining companies. As a result, the Tlicho gained access to a range of jobs and training opportunities, delivering even more opportunities to the Tlicho.

This is continuing with other developments that are taking place on their traditional lands and they will be taking the leadership role for negotiating for their people, the land and resources, and the water resources that exist within their territory.

Threads of recent Tlicho history are also woven into Bill C-31. The legislation would guarantee the Tlicho a role in deciding how the resources of the Mackenzie Valley might be developed through participation in public environmental review boards.

The entire Mackenzie River was ascertained as Canadian territory by both Treaties Nos. 8 and 11. The significance of this is difficult for many Canadians to appreciate, but the history of our country is based on treaty.

In the north, where large scale resource developments can have such negative impacts on the environment, participation is essential and respect of the peace and friendship treaties is critically fundamental.

The bill also calls for establishment of a democratic Tlicho government. This would be a public form of government that would include all residents of the Tlicho territory. The bill would empower the government to pass laws safeguarding their culture and protecting traditional lands, and respecting policies of resource management and protection.

Under the terms of the legislation, key decisions would be made by the people most familiar with and most affected by local issues. I am convinced that this will lead to substantial improvements in housing, employment, education, social activities and the quality of life for all northerners, not only the Tlicho. Their vision is to include all people who live among them.

The Tlicho leaders believe their improvements are best accomplished by the Tlicho themselves, through a representative and effective government capable of exercising law-making authority and assuming new responsibilities. They also recognize that this objective will need to be achieved through partnership, partnership with industry in resource development, partnership with territorial government in the delivery of social programs and services and partnership with the federal government for a greater development of our Canadian north.

I agree with them wholeheartedly that the bill now before the House will help establish precisely these conditions and the foundation for a better future for their people and their nation. It would enable the Tlicho to become self-governing and assume jurisdiction over and responsibility for their own affairs.

It is very important that we highlight responsibility. There are huge responsibilities in dealing with their children, the raising of their families, the protection of their language, culture, their traditions as hunters and gatherers, their relationship with the animals, the fish and also the water. The life sources for many years for their people and their nation need to be respected and recognized into the future.

They also take up their rightful roles as landowners, administrators and entrepreneurs. This is a vigorous and vibrant, prosperous north and they will be inclusive of these kind of activities, not only trading within the domestic regions of provinces and territories of the Canadian north, but also into southern Canada and internationally.

The Tlicho will play an important part in establishing these partnerships with their territorial government, the federal government and the private sector, and participating in the future growth and development of the entire Northwest Territories, and also the Canadian north.

Today, we have been entrusted with the aspirations of a people, the Tlicho and the Dene nation. I ask that the House support the Tlicho as they strive to realize their potential. I am encouraged by the vision that the Tlicho have brought us to consider.

In my language I would like to speak directly to some of the provisions in the agreement so the people in my communities can understand because I would like to encourage them in regard to this type of agreement based on treaty, our Treaty No. 11 and Treaty No. 8. My constituency touches on the Mackenzie River system as well.

[Editor's Note: Member spoke in Cree]


It is a great honour to see from the far north that the Dene Nation and its people, the Tlicho, have seen a vision of governing their territories in a cooperative manner, that all people living within their territories will be part of their governing structure. It does not matter from what part of the country or the world people come. If they live among the Tlicho, there is a place for them in their governance.

That vision was created with Canada as a treaty nation. A peace and friendship treaty was established; a blanket of peace and friendship.

A very noble visitor, the Dalai Lama, is visiting our country at this time. Peace and friendship has been his message all along. Maybe that is why he finds Canada so generous and open. The very foundation of the country was on peace and friendship.

The original nations of this land have to be given proper respect as well as the Tlicho and the Dene Nation to which they belong. The Dene Nation has to be celebrated in these houses as well. There is Cree Nation, the Mohawk Nation, the Blackfoot Nation, the Haida Nation, the Oneida Nation, the Innu Nation, the Innuit Nation and the Metis Nation. These are the original nations of this land, and they have to be a part of this governing structure.

Here is a self-government model that the Tlicho, the Dene people, have negotiated and drafted. They have included all people, all Canadians who live in their territory to be part of their governing structure.

To me it was very astounding that they had signed a treaty already. They knew that living under the Indian Act was not sufficient, that they had to draft something more. This gives me great honour to share with the House and also with the people back home who are listening.

That is what I envisioned for my region of the country. My region is governed by villages and reserves, municipal boundaries and reserve boundaries. Outside of that we do not have what southern Canada has as municipalities or counties, where the agriculture communities can put their minds together and create a democratic system of governance and representation.

The north does not have that. This self-government model addresses that. Any resource management or any resource development issue will be conducted in a democratic government. This is a self-government, a democratically elected government that will involve all residents of that region. Therefore, I celebrate this and I share this for all other regions of Canada to consider. Here is a Dene Nation that entered into treaty to share its land, to create a beautiful country, a treaty nation called Canada.

Now they have come to us. They need the provisions, the tools and the law-making powers. This is it. This is the Tlicho agreement, the self-government agreement. It is not only for their people. They are not selfish. They are drawing this self-government model for all people who will be living among them. I celebrate that. I congratulate them and I also send heartfelt greetings, through you Madam Speaker, to the elders, the women, the men and the youth who have been involved in this.

A huge level of support came from their communities for this to be achieved. In the Northwest Territories, there is a huge number of aboriginal representation. Their world view took place. This was ratified by the territorial government. I congratulate the territorial government for allowing this kind of vision, this kind of self-government to take place.

Today, I encourage my colleagues in the House and in the Senate, where this law will also be considered, to entrust the vision that took place in creating this self-government model. It is a model that is truly Canadian. It includes all of us. We must be one country. The original nations and the new peoples who have come here, come here as one nation. To create laws and territorial and self-government models that involve all of us is truly a time of celebration.

This is truly a visionary document that involves many hours of work. It is very heartfelt. The Tlicho people are sacrificing and taking risks of their aboriginal title and rights. They are also putting them on the table to be shared with all others.

I congratulate them for that kind of vision and confidence in themselves as a nation. I celebrate--

[Editor's Note: Member spoke in Cree]


There are many people who have travelled to many corners of the world to find Canada as their home. My vision of Canada is that we are a nation of rivers. This river aspect through Treaty No. 11 and Treaty No. 8 ascertained the entire eco-region of the Mackenzie River system.

These treaties are like a patchwork blanket of river systems. Treaty No. 6 in my area was the Saskatchewan River system. Treaty No. 10 was the Churchill River system. All these river systems make up a country. We are also a river of nations. We must be proud of our ancestors, no matter who or where they are. We must be proud that we are one country. We must flow as one.

For the Tlicho people, I celebrate the vision of their self-government concept. I encourage all my colleagues in the House to support this bill.

Westbank First Nation Self-Government Act April 20th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to discuss a very historic agreement with the Westbank first nation.

The Westbank First Nation is of the Okanagan nation and it is a region of Canada that has unfinished business in terms of creating treaty. I want to focus on this because it should be put on record that Canada was created as a treaty nation. It was not taken in any other way. All the agreements that the Crown entered into were peaceful, friendship treaties to ascertain the territories.

If we checked international law, no country or state can be without a territory. This territory in the country was secured by treaty and those treaties were taken in a sacred context. The aboriginal indigenous nations of Canada hope for the sharing of this land, of creating one country to live among each other, with certain assurances. Different treaties have different assurances.

For the record, the Westbank region has no treaty, so the relationship it has with the government is the self-government agreement. It is continuing negotiations with the provincial and federal governments. Hopefully, in the future a treaty will be signed for that region.

The entire province of British Columbia was the unfinished business by treaty. The Hudson's Bay Company played a significant role in ascertaining that territory. There is a whole history of which the country needs to be aware. We as members of Parliament have more treaty rights flowing from those treaties than the indigenous nations do. They had sovereign right to this land, its resources and sources of life. They had all these relations before the crown negotiated these treaties. Those rights were with sovereign nations.

We see countries of the world where there is conflict. There is conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are regions there where people want to put in their level of western democracy. There is a self-government model that is being negotiated by their people. They see a vision of how they can govern their community in the hope that their country will engage by treaty for a future of certainty and security.

I ask my colleagues to please have patience. This is an evolution of a country. We are still growing. We are still very young. We have lots to learn from our indigenous nations. They may make mistakes, as we may make mistakes in the House or in the provincial legislatures, but we will correct those mistakes because we are governed by human beings. Humans make mistakes. However, there is a sacred context when we enter these treaties.

I have Treaty No. 6 and Treaty No. 10 in my area. Those treaties were secured in a sacred context, using the pipe and a sacred instrument to enter a future. As an example, I would like to share this with my colleagues. In Treaty No. 6 there was a vision by the chiefs that a medicine chest be provided for their people. This medicine chest was a public policy and a public vision for all Canadians. It was not only for the Cree, the Dene and the Saulteaux children. Why can we not look at the indigenous people, the aboriginal first nations as contributing to a vision of the country, not only for their sake but for the entire nation?

I also beg that the Westbank, through its affiliation with its nation, the Okanagan nation, could some day sit here in Parliament. I have shared a vision that this is a house, a House of Commons. We also have another house called the Senate. Maybe a third house should be created where the aboriginal nations could sit and help govern the country as one. We have to come as one country. We cannot be debating from one side to the next. This is one country, flowing as one.

That is what the vision of those treaties was: that the aboriginal nations would not be left alone, or that the Crown went off and administered the country in isolation of those aboriginal nations.

Let us bring the aboriginal nations into this fold. Let us treat the aboriginal leadership as parliamentarians. The chiefs should be accountable and transparent to all of Canada. Keep them here. This House that I speak about exists. There is a building at the back of these Parliament Buildings called the Library of Parliament. It is a sacred symbol. It has a medicine chest and a medicine wheel. A medicine wheel is embedded right in the floor plan. It survived the fire of 1916. When all these other buildings, the square buildings, all burned down, this round building, a symbol of unity, survived the fire. It survived the major test. It was negotiated and built 128 years ago. That library was envisioned by an architect.

One hundred and twenty-eight years ago, our elders in Treaty No. 6 were negotiating treaty. Maybe there was a sacred and spiritual intervention with their prayers to build that building here for a greater purpose. Maybe it is now, in 2004, a year of an indigenous decade in which indigenous issues throughout the world are to be addressed.

Maybe it is time that we welcome our nations, the original nations of this country, the Inuit, the Mi'kmaq, the Okanagan, the Cree, the Dene, the Haida, and the Stó:lõ, as nations to come and help us govern this country, because there are many gifts that these nations have, which they cannot give away but they can share, which they have to hold in trust, just like their languages.

I was born with a first language: nenehiyawan, nehiyawewin. I speak a Cree language, nehiyaw. I speak a Cree world view because from that view I see a vision of the world. That is what all these nations carry. They are distinct nations. They are not all one generic first nation. They are unique nations. Let us unfold those nations as to who they are and let us show the world. Let us listen, really listen with our hearts and our minds, to what they see as a vision of this country so that for all the children who come here, no matter where they are from, we live together as one country.

That is why I have shared a vision that we should have a motto of Canada. The motto of Canada says “from sea to shining sea”. I would like to change that motto. It should be “a nation of rivers and a river of nations”. There are many nations that flow here, even in this House, and there are our ancestors. We have to be proud of our ancestors and the gifts that our ancestors gave us, the prayers they give that we survive.

However, there are distinct responsibilities to the land and, as we say, all our relations: the four-legged, the winged, the ones that crawl and the ones that swim, all the little beings of this planet, all the plants, the medicines, the little gifts that we have the consciousness to be careful for. As human beings, we carry that will here in these houses, in these political institutions.

But what is missing is the aboriginal nations. They are not in Parliament. They are not here directing this vessel into the future. This vessel was envisioned with the two row wampum, where the original vessel of the original people can flow together with the newcomers and their vessel. This vessel came from Britain. This is a British parliamentary system. Maybe that parliamentary library that I talked about is the original vessel for the original people. Those two vessels can flow together to create one country and one Parliament.

I commend the people of the Westbank, who are willing to create a government structure to live among their people and the people who live with them in rules, policies and bylaws that will affect their people, but who have a greater vision and a greater respect for the Okanagan nation as a whole. That nation should be welcomed here so that the country can be governed together as one.

I share that with the House at this time because this is a year in the indigenous decade of indigenous people worldwide. I think it is time that Canada opened its arms and welcomed the true meaning of friendship and peace.

Committees of the House March 31st, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the second report of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, Northern Development and Natural Resources on the main estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2005.

Committees of the House March 12th, 2004

[Editor's Note: Member spoke in Cree]


Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present the first report of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, Northern Development and Natural Resources regarding the order of reference of Thursday, February 12, Bill C-11, an act to give effect to the West Bank First Nations Self-government Agreement.

The committee has considered Bill C-11 and reports the bill with amendments.

Regional Development February 19th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, critical issues of economic development and infrastructure in the mid-Canada region require innovative partnerships. The Canada-Saskatchewan northern development agreement is certainly a partnership to build on.

Just this week the first projects for northern Saskatchewan were announced by the northern development board totalling $2.7 million. Can the minister explain how these projects will advance the economy of this region?

Agriculture February 11th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, farmers and the agricultural industry remain hopeful that we will regain our foreign markets soon, but a recent newspaper article stated that the borders could be closed for years and not months to Canadian beef.

Could the Minister of Agriculture tell the House what information this was based on and is this indeed correct?

First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management Act November 6th, 2003

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to speak to this very critical issue at this time in our history as a country and at this time in our relationship with the aboriginal nations of this land.

First I would like to state that in its intentions Bill C-19, from my perspective, is inappropriate at this time because the relationship between the Crown and our government and the aboriginal nations is not set. We are approaching the end of the indigenous decade. It is coming to a close next year. Ten years were set aside by the United Nations to review indigenous issues throughout the world. Within that 10 years, our country has experienced a lot of reflection. A big part of that reflection was the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. Within that reflection, I want to focus on that definition of first nations.

Bill C-19 proposes in the definition that in Canada “first nation” has the same meaning as “band” in the Indian Act. I would like to tell Canadians and this Parliament that the first nations of Canada are not band councils. The first nations of Canada are the original nations of Canada. There is terminology in the Cree language.

[Editor's Note: Member spoke in Cree]

What I said in Cree was that if I speak in Cree and define myself as nehiyaw , I know who I am in my language. I belong to a group of people who come from the nehiyaw nation. That is the Cree nation as it is defined in the French language. The Dene Nation is another nation besides the Cree. The Mohawks are another nation. The Oneida, the Tuscarora, the Seneca, the Tlingit, the Haida and the Inuit are all nations. The Métis are a nation.

These nations are recognized in our Constitution and they are also recognized under the purview of our treaties, the treaties of this country engaged with these nations, and these nations have to play a role in this present day context.

Let us talk about these institutions that are being created. If our government is willing to recognize and create four commissions and these four commissions make up a total of 51 seats, 51 members will be assigned to have certain powers and responsibilities in dealing with the tax commission, the financial management board, the finance authority and the statistical institute.

I would beg members to consider this. There are up to 52 and maybe even more aboriginal nations in this country. Why can we not represent and recognize each nation and each nation's representative? Why can we not have a Cree chief, a Dene chief, a Mohawk chief, all of the councils of nations, to help govern this country? Why take our squabbles to the Supreme Court for every wrong that has been done?

Parliament was created to debate and chart a course for all Canadians to journey into the future. That vision was embodied in one of the original treaties called a Two-Row Wampum, where in the original vessel of the original nations, they can keep their languages, they can keep their spiritual beliefs and they can keep their self-governance. If financial institutions are to be created, that is in the vessel, not to be created somewhere else.

We are embarking on this with this decade of indigenous review coming to a close next year. I call on my aboriginal brothers and sisters throughout this country to gather as nations.

[Editor's Note: Member spoke in Cree]

The aboriginal nations have welcomed all the other nations and peoples of the world to live among us on this land in harmony. Let us chart that relationship so it lasts for another 1,000 years and another 1,000 years after that so our children can be proud of Canada. We are a river of nations. We all flow here but we must flow as one.

I sit here as an aboriginal person. I am Metis Cree. The first words that came out of my mouth were

[Editor's Note: Member spoke in Cree].

That is the way I see the world. I cannot apologize for that. I was born here and that is who I am.

I bring the House a message. This House came from Britain. Under the British North American Act, the Crown looked at a governing structure for this country and negotiated the territory. There is no country without a territory because without a territory there is no country.

This nation was negotiated on peace and friendship with the original nations to create a country. We must respect the very foundation of that peace and friendship which is the very foundation of this country.

The preamble of Bill C-19 states:

Whereas the Government of Canada has adopted a policy...

No. The Government of Canada adopted that the Crown enter into a treaty to create a country. The preamble has to say treaty first. We just have to ask aboriginals who feel a relationship with this country and they will tell us that it is a treaty relationship. They are proud to have the blood of a nation flowing through them but we must create the country together.

We are one country. We cannot push our aboriginal nations out. We must respect the peace and friendship that is embodied in those treaties. The world is hard-pressed to find peace right now. If we drop the gift of peace that we have right now, we may be ruining it for the rest of the world. That gift of peace is a sacred gift that was given to our first nations. We must nurture it.

[Editor's Note: Member spoke in Cree]

I call upon my people, the aboriginal nations of this land, to look at this country and to be proud of their nations.

Over the last 10 years I have mentioned a royal commission. That royal commission has given me a little ray of hope. It recommended that a third house of Parliament be created. We presently have the House of Commons and the Senate which is the upper chamber. There should be a third house.

That third house physically exists right next door and it is called the parliamentary library. It is a circular building, shaped like a teepee, much like the teepees at Fort Carleton where treaties were negotiated. The teepees were set outside and the British commissioners and the Crown sat inside the fort, which was square. As members will notice, the rooms in these buildings are square. If we look at the library we see it is round. We can create a circle and a symbol of unity with the circle.

This room is an adversarial room where we are designed to fight. A circle is a place of unity and consensus. The government must adopt the original symbols of governance that existed on this land.

The House of Commons originated in Britain as a vessel of Britain. It is time we matured as a country and looked at adopting two governing structures, the original governing structure that existed here many years ago and a new structure for the future that would create a country that would show the rest of the world how to live in peace. A colonial country with a colonial past can have a gift that is true and powerful, a gift called peace.

If we give these powers to financial institutions and take them away from first nations, then we are recognizing the power of money over the power of nations and the power of people.

I caution the people who are looking seriously at adopting Bill C-19 that this legislation will cause major problems at the outset for our first nations communities. They can purchase an abundance of riches but there is a long term commitment in the bill. The powers in Bill C-19 would allow a financial management board to invade the powers of first nations' councils and change their bylaws.

I do not want to see banks having powers to change bylaws of first nations and band councils without the government having a thorough relationship with the original nations based on peace and friendship, as defined in our treaties.

Specific Claims Resolutions Act November 4th, 2003

Madam Speaker, on October 31 the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations stated that the AFN must and will vigorously oppose the enactment of all three bills, referring to Bill C-6, Bill C-7 and Bill C-19.

In her presentation the hon. member emphasized the relationship of the aboriginal people and the aboriginal nations of this country. I would like to ask her if she would agree with the terminology that Canada is a treaty nation. This nation was created by peace treaties. These peace treaties may have the gift to give world peace, because the world is looking for peace. That gift might be here. It might be embedded in the very treaties on which this nation rests its laurels and its certainties.

We go to bed every night as proud Canadians. However it was the aboriginal nations, through their agreements with the crown after its differences with France and Spain, which engaged by treaty to create a treaty nation based on peace and friendship.

Is the member aware that the national chief stated on October 31 that the AFN must and will vigorously oppose the bill?