Mr. Speaker, I am humbled to be here in the House to speak in Parliament where the laws are made. This is the supreme lawmaking body of the country, based on the principles of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which says "based on the principles of the supremacy of God and the rule of law". We as aboriginal people, the first inhabitants of this country, have always known that.
We are now debating once again what has been debated for years and years: land. The first order of business has not been concluded with the First Nations, the first inhabitants.
The creator created all nations all over the world, created land, the trees, the environment we live in today. It so happens that he placed the aboriginal people in this country. Canada is an aboriginal word meaning community.
Our ancestors welcomed many nations that came to this land. Today many nations benefit from the rich resources of this country. As aboriginal people, we seem to be living in a third world country in our own homeland. We have always declared that the creator put us here and the creator will always honour that, no matter what governments do, how they cut it and slice this country. The country will always be aboriginal land, Canada.
Today we are talking about the B.C. Treaty Commission. Today we are also facing another crisis dealing with Quebec, another incident that would divide Canada. If it is the will of God to honour the people he placed here, the aboriginal people, the original inhabitants of this land, then Quebec cannot separate. We have put our faith in the creator to sustain us. This institution is based on that. The Canadian Constitution is based on that. As a matter of fact it is written on a piece of paper I have that in the principles of Christianity is found the liberty that has made Canada great. It is so great that in the United Nations' annual listing of the world's countries for 1994 Canada was ranked first out of 173.
Canada has benefited from the relationship with the aboriginal people. When we make treaties it has to be understood by every Canadian that we are here to co-exist, to welcome the Europeans, to live side by side with each other, to respect and honour each other and not to dominate. These treaties must also have the view and philosophy of the First Nations in this country because the creator put us here. We could not have given the land to anyone because we do not own it. We could only share the land and resources that would benefit everybody else in this country.
We did not accept the European concept of land tenure which is to have property, to see it as a commodity and to exploit and develop it for the purposes of a company or one or a few individuals. Maybe that is why opposition members are afraid of the land claims we are making. Maybe they think we may become like them. We may acquire all these things and not share them. In assessing these things we tend to assess the successes of our land claims and businesses in our communities based on European values and not in relation to some of the traditional ancient values we used to have. However, they are coming back again today.
We have to get back to the ancient roots because we are very close to the creator. The land has caused so much hurt. Look at the Oka crisis. Corporal Lemay died in that situation because the Mohawks did not want their ancestral burial grounds decimated. This summer in Ipperwash, Anthony "Dudley" George was killed as a result of land, another aboriginal burial ground.
These issues have to be resolved. They have to be dealt with. Our way of thinking and our philosophy are ones that have always been shared with other First Nations in this country, to share what we have, to share the land and resources. If we were to add up what it means in dollars and cents over the last 500 years I do not think it would even represent 1 per cent of the compensation to the aboriginal peoples. We probably would have been the wealthiest people in the world if we had been greedy and kept everything for ourselves. However, that was not our way of thinking.
That is why I am so honoured and humbled to be here, to be in this House which was created on the principles I espoused and which this place has sanctified to say all these things. All of us have to be reminded daily because we make mistakes as human beings. Personally, it has been a difficult journey for me to be involved in mainstream politics, provincially, nationally and internationally, in promoting this kind of philosophy.
The world's needs have come together because there is a global economy, a global movement which is happening, which is tearing our communities apart. It is influencing the communities in Canada. It is not just the aboriginal people, but Canadians as well. They feel helpless. They distrust governments. We have to restore trust.
I support Bill C-107. It will begin the treaty making process in British Columbia where treaties have not been made in the past, except for northeastern B.C., in the Peace River area, where Treaty No. 8 was signed years ago, as well as the treaty concerning Vancouver Island. However, most of British Columbia has never been in the treaty making process where land has been settled.
Our rights have never been extinguished. The Canadian Constitution has recognized that. There is not a requirement under the Constitution for any citizen or any nation to give up rights; rather, those rights which are recognized and affirmed in the Canadian Constitution should be expanded and defined. People are concerned about extinguishing land claims. They feel there should no longer be a requirement to extinguish land claims.
Several reports have been made to government over the past years. One was the 1985 Coolican report entitled: "Living Treaties, Lasting Agreements" which determined that extinguishing land claims were no longer an option. Today there is another report entitled: "Canada and Aboriginal Peoples: A New Partnership" authored by A.C. Hamilton. That report will be discussed in the near future. There was also the interim report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples entitled: "Treaty Making in the Spirit of Co-existence: An Alternative to Extinguishment". That report is also an alternative to extinguishing land claims.
All of those reports suggest a new approach. All of them ask that we come together, that we respect each other and that we negotiate in good faith. The rights of all individuals must be recognized. Whether they be aboriginal, government, business, or third party
interests, their rights must be protected in order for us to co-exist without fear.
I have heard some hon. members say that one law should be applied. Whose law should be applied? When our cemeteries are being desecrated, will the government remove the people who are occupying them? How would they feel if our aboriginal people were to go to their cemeteries? Whose law would be applied?
We must bring this to the attention of the Canadian public. Our concept of land tenure is one of sharing the land and resources. If the Canadian people understood that, they would not be threatened by land claims. Their interests would be protected. Aboriginal rights would ensure that. Our forefathers have taught us for many years that our history is very rich.
I have called for a sacred assembly to which all members will be invited. I have invited the Prime Minister and the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. A letter will also be sent to opposition members inviting them to participate in the sacred assembly which will be held hopefully sometime in December.
The sacred assembly is designed to bring together aboriginal and non-aboriginal leaders, spiritual leaders and religious leaders from all walks of life in Ottawa for the purpose of providing counsel and promoting reconciliation because of the events of this past summer.
What I believe has been missing is the spiritual element of this whole process. The political process has failed us. We need to get back to our traditional spiritual roots. The prime objective is to restore that so that the spiritual leaders, advisers and elders can provide direction not only to our aboriginal leaders but to government leaders across this country as well. This is sorely needed and the time is right for us to address these things.
With those few words, I thank you for listening. I recommend this bill to the members opposite.