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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word is communities.

NDP MP for Churchill—Keewatinook Aski (Manitoba)

Won her last election, in 2015, with 46% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Infrastructure November 22nd, 2016

Mr. Speaker, the made on Bay Street infrastructure privatization plan, while good for billionaire investors, is selling out Canadian jobs. The Port of Churchill is a devastating example of what happened the last time the Liberals privatized strategic infrastructure. They virtually gave the port away to an American billionaire who has since shut it down. People have lost their jobs, the community's future is in question, and we are all paying the price.

When will the Liberals stand up for jobs and stop selling us out for the gain of private infrastructure?

Canadian Human Rights Act November 18th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, there is no question that as parliamentarians we value healthy debate. What we must also be very clear about is the attempt we are seeing here to truly stand in the way of a minority community in Canada that has experienced some of the highest levels of violence because of who they are.

It is 2016, and as my colleague from Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke has explained, this is the only community whose voices have had to come forward three times to change legislation to protect their fundamental human right to safety and security. Therefore, when I hear attempts, as we have seen today, to block this community from achieving the protection that we all deserve and that we all have, it truly saddens me in terms of the state of Parliament and the way we perceive our work in this place.

Canadian Human Rights Act November 18th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, like many today, I feel that we are making history as parliamentarians. I acknowledge the very important work of my colleague, the member for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke in driving this agenda, as have other New Democrats before him.

While we are certainly moving forward in terms of much-needed legislation, the question of implementation, which has come up already, is a critical one. This is particularly necessary in marginalized communities, in rural and remote communities, and in indigenous communities, like the ones I represent. Unfortunately, we know that recently the government cut funding to HIV/AIDS programs, and it is certainly not there to support critical programming in marginalized communities.

My question for the member across is, while today is so important, will his government continue implementing and putting forward resources so that trans people across the country, not just in urban centres, but in urban centres and beyond, have the support necessary to make this law a reality?

Petitions November 2nd, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House and share a petition signed by many Canadians who are seeking justice for people with a lived experience of poverty, whose voice and record have been excluded from the 2009 federal human resources standing committee hearings held on poverty reduction.

They, like many Canadians, are calling on the federal government to show leadership in ending poverty for Canadians who struggle in these situations every single day. I am proud to stand here and share their voices. We hope the government will listen and take action.

Post-Secondary Education November 2nd, 2016

Mr. Speaker, today, students on the Hill and across the country are speaking for a generation that is burdened by debt and facing rising rates of unemployment. They are putting forward bold solutions in the face of rising, precarious work, ones that we heard on our national tour across the country.

Instead of placating young people and telling them to accept the unacceptable, will the Prime Minister, the Minister of Youth, listen to students' solutions and stand up and show leadership for the millennial generation?

Business of Supply October 27th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for that important question. He is absolutely right. What possible logical reason could they have to say no to ending systemic discrimination against first nations youth?

The one reason I could see is to be right in line with previous Liberal governments when it comes to first nations people. It was under Liberal rule that we saw the chronic underfunding of first nations overall. In the nineties, the Liberals brought in the 2% cap. They told first nations they had to share the so-called burden for the government's cutbacks, when in fact first nations people have borne the burden for centuries when it comes to Canadian government.

Basically, what we are talking about here is a Liberal government that has talked a big talk when it comes to working with indigenous peoples in Canada, yet it is not willing to shore it up with action. It is not willing to address the underfunding of first nations. It is coming up with some pretty half-baked excuses as to why it cannot do that. It is willing to go up against incredible advocates, like Cindy Blackstock.

Indigenous youth and indigenous communities are seeing through this kind of rhetoric. They expect leadership. They expect the Liberal government to support our NDP motion to end the systemic discrimination in first nations child welfare.

Business of Supply October 27th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I will remind the member across that the number identified here is the number that has been put forward by a renowned human rights activist and indigenous advocate, Cindy Blackstock. So if the member is prepared to go back to his riding and talk about his need to oppose Cindy Blackstock and the measures she has put forth, that is something he is going to grapple with.

What really strikes me here is the way in which the Liberals are flailing to come up with excuses to say no to this motion. The motion is fundamental. We are talking about stopping the fight against indigenous families. We are talking about the implementation of Jordan's principle. We are talking about addressing the chronic underfunding of child welfare. These are all the bullet points that the Liberals want to say no to.

We had a prime minister who committed to the 94 recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. We are still waiting. We had ministers who talk about the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People, but who conveniently leave out the word “implementation”. We have a prime minister and a government that use rhetoric to make themselves look better when it comes to indigenous people's issues. So if they want to actually match their talk with action, supporting the motion is the way to go. Indigenous people will see right through their opposition to the motion as a betrayal of the government's commitments to them in the election campaign.

Business of Supply October 27th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise in the House to speak to the opposition day motion put forward by our party. I want to acknowledge the important work of my colleague, the member of Parliament for Timmins—James Bay.

This opposition day motion is very important to the people I represent in my home of northern Manitoba. I want to share the language of this motion so that people at home and those who are tuning in know exactly what we are putting forward here today. It reads:

That the House call on the government to comply with the historic ruling of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ordering the end of discrimination against First Nations children, including by:

(a) immediately investing an additional $155 million in new funding for the delivery of child welfare that has been identified as the shortfall this year alone, and establishing a funding plan for future years that will end the systemic shortfalls in First Nations child welfare;

(b) implementing the full definition of Jordan's Principle as outlined in a resolution passed by the House on December 12, 2007;

(c) fully complying with all orders made by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal and committing to stop fighting Indigenous families in court who are seeking access to services covered by the federal government; and

(d) making public all pertinent documents related to the overhaul of child welfare and the implementation of Jordan's Principle.

Before I go on, I would like to indicate that I will splitting my time with the member for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou.

The opposition day motion I just read is extremely fundamental. We are talking about addressing the systemic underfunding of first nations child welfare. We are talking about implementation of a decision on the historic matter of Jordan's principle, which we all supported in 2007, nine years ago. It is about complying with the orders of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. It is about stopping the fight against indigenous families who are seeking justice. This motion is fundamental to the work we should be doing as parliamentarians.

However, it is also deeply troubling that one year after a new government was elected, a government that made all sorts of commitments to first nation people, that we have had to put such a motion forward because the government has been failing first nation people so deeply in our country. I want to spend a moment reflecting on how disturbing it is that we have to stand once again in the House to call on federal leadership when it comes to Jordan's principle.

Jordan's principle was named after a little guy from my constituency, Jordan Anderson, from Norway House Cree Nation. Jordan's experience of being shuffled back and forth between the provincial and federal system is, sadly, the inspiration behind Jordan's principle.

Jordan, because of the illness he faced and the way in which the federal government and the provincial government dealt with him, was not able to be at home with his family. Sadly, because of the chronic underfunding by the federal government of first nations, and first nations youth in particular, Jordan could not even spend the last days of his life at home with the people he loved.

Jordan's family and the leaders of his community, like Mike Muswagon and many others, fought for justice for Jordan, but they went beyond that. They said that no first nation child deserved to live through what Jordan had experienced, and that a first nation child, no matter where they are from, ought to have the same access to health care, safe housing, and services if they have disabilities, and the same kind of dignity, as any other child in Canada.

Nine years ago, parliamentarians stood in support of Jordan's principle, and I, like my other colleagues, want to acknowledge the hard work of Jean Crowder, a member of Parliament that I had the privilege of working with, who put forward Jordan's principle in the House. It is absurd that so many years later, despite the promises by the government across the way and its hollow commitments to first nations people, we have to once again ask it to fulfill its commitment to Jordan's principle.

I have the honour of representing 41 first nations in my constituency. Day in and day out in my constituency, I see the incredible energy that so many young people in first nations and Métis communities have across our north. However, over the last number of years, I have also seen the incredible challenges and massive barriers they have faced, particularly on reserve. We can trace all of those barriers to the inherent neglect we have seen from the federal government, to the decades of underfunding of first nations health care, housing, education, infrastructure and, more broadly, services. We can also trace it back to the colonial mentality in which Liberal and Conservative governments have imposed patriarchal views on first nations people, seeking assimilation, practising genocidal acts, and ensuring that first nation people do not live the lives that so many other Canadians live in terms of dignity.

Yesterday I was honoured to host a one-of-a-kind forum on Parliament Hill. It focused on the rise of precarious work in the millennial generation. We heard loud and clear from indigenous speakers about the particular barriers that indigenous youth face in our country. That is perhaps most emblematic in the experiences of children and young people who have grown up in the system of child and family services, the child welfare system, young people who have often been left to their own devices, who have faced incredible abuse, and who we know will be living with the impacts of that kind of neglect for years and even generations to come.

One of the most powerful speakers yesterday was Tasha Spillett, a Nehiyaw woman from Winnipeg, whose roots are in our north. She talked about the dangers of being, as she called it, “young and brown” in Canada. She talked about the impacts of colonization and the marginalization of indigenous youth in our country. In her speech, she connected these broader issues to a very real example of the way in which indigenous youth in our country are facing abuse. She chose to focus on perhaps one of the most powerful examples of the way in which indigenous lives are shown by some to not matter in our country, that being the case of Colten Boushie, a young man who was killed in August of this very year. He was a 22-year old Cree man from Red Pheasant Cree Nation who was shot and killed by a white farmer after approaching a farmhouse in Saskatchewan.

Tasha talked about the need for justice for Colten, as have others, such as Erica Violet Lee, an incredible writer who is also based in Saskatchewan. In one of the articles Erica wrote, she talked about the importance of asking why indigenous values, and particularly the lives of indigenous youth, are devalued in our country.

She asked:

What is it like to live with a fear of Native people so intense that a second thought is not spared on loading your rifle and shooting a young Cree man dead who simply dared to cross your fence-line?

She continued:

Despite the foreign weight that bears on our bodies, Native folks are just like you

—meaning non-indigenous people—

at least in some ways.

She went on to say:

We take naps in the August heat, we go for long drives to the river, we swim, we fall in love. The difference is that we do all these things in a county that long ago decided Native freedom, Native love and Native life are, more than anything else, a threat. A threat to westward expansion, to Canadian civilization, to private property, to your farm tractor. Take your pick.

She went on to say:

In the few remaining warm days of this year, Native people will continue doing what we have always done, since time immemorial, in our prairie homelands

—meaning surviving, thriving, and resisting.

My concluding message to the government is that if we are going to make it clear to indigenous youth that their lives matter, supporting and fulfilling this motion is one important step in doing that.

Business of Supply October 27th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I understand that the member across often refers to his time in the Manitoba legislature. He may know, through even a personal connection he might have, that in Manitoba there was a unanimous decision earlier this week to condemn the federal government for its treatment of aboriginal children in child and family services. This was a motion directed at the federal government. In a province like ours, we have an acute understanding of the way in which the federal government has neglected child and family services, particularly on reserve, and how this has led to all sorts of issues and challenges that indigenous people face in our province.

Will the member and his government come to realize that supporting this motion and showing leadership in addressing the chronic underfunding of child welfare is the way forward? Let us cut the rhetoric. Let us listen to provinces like Manitoba that are saying that the federal government has a responsibility to finally take action.

Labour October 27th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, while the Prime Minister calls precarious work a fact of life and the Minister of Finance says that we should get used to it, Canadians have a different message for the government.

Yesterday, 200 people attended our forum on Parliament Hill on the rise of precarious work in the millennial generation. We heard stories of unstable work and the need for national leadership.

The Prime Minister likes to pass himself off as the minister of youth, but when young workers are facing a seismic shift, all he can do is shrug. When will the government admit that precarious work is an issue of critical importance, and when will it take real action for—