House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was actually.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as Liberal MP for Winnipeg Centre (Manitoba)

Lost his last election, in 2019, with 34% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Canadian School Counselling Week February 4th, 2019

[Member spoke in Cree and provided the following translation:]

Mr. Speaker, to all my relations, I say hello. I am very proud to be here.


Today we launch Canadian School Counselling Week, highlighting the tremendous impact of school counsellors on the academic achievement and career development of students.

Across the country, Canadians recognize the unique contribution school counsellors make in supporting student success. School counsellors are mental health professionals who support the personal, social, educational and career development of students and make positive contributions to the mental health and well-being of all Canadians. On a daily basis, school counsellors are actively engaged in helping students examine their abilities, strengths, interests and talents. School counsellors support families and work with teachers and other educators to provide an educational system where students can appreciate their potential and set realistic and healthy aspirations for their future.

During Canadian School Counselling Week, let us take this opportunity to thank school counsellors for the important role they play in schools in Winnipeg-Centre, Manitoba and across Canada.

Indigenous Affairs January 28th, 2019

[Member spoke in Cree, interpreted as follows:]

Mr. Speaker, could the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism please update the House on Canada's role in the initiative and work being done to protect and revitalize indigenous languages in Canada? I am proud to say that the United Nations has declared 2019 the International Year of Indigenous Languages.

Dutch Heritage Day January 28th, 2019

[Member spoke in Cree, interpreted as follows:]

Mr. Speaker, I am very thankful to have the opportunity to speak about the tremendous contributions made to Canada by those of Dutch heritage and the incredible sacrifices made by Canadians in the liberation of the Netherlands. What might surprise people is the fact that many indigenous people contributed to this liberation. One might not think that there is much of a link between indigenous people and Dutch people, but there definitely is.

In the Second World War as a whole, more than 200 indigenous soldiers lost their lives. Indigenous soldiers earned a minimum of 18 decorations for bravery in action. They participated in every major battle and campaign, from the disastrous Dieppe landings to the pivotal Normandy invasion and the Battle of Hong Kong, where 2,000 members of the Winnipeg Grenadiers and the Royal Rifles of Canada became prisoners of war of the Japanese. At least 16 of those prisoners were first nations people and Métis. In September 1944, only three months after D-Day, Canadians began the campaign that would liberate the Netherlands from Nazi occupation.

As I mentioned previously, some of these brave soldiers were indigenous and gave their all for the freedom that Dutch people deserved. I would like to highlight Saskatchewan's David Greyeyes, originally a grain farmer from the Muskeg Lake Cree band. He began his service in Great Britain, giving advanced weaponry training to reinforcements. He served in Italy, France, Belgium and, of course, the Netherlands.

Another noteworthy soldier was Charles Byce, who was the only member of his regiment, the Lake Superior Regiment, to earn both the Distinguished Conduct Medal and the Military Medal. He was the son of Louisa Saylors, a Cree from Moose Factory, Ontario. Byce earned his first decoration for valour, the MM, in the Netherlands in January 1945. The story behind this award is quite amazing.

These brave men are all heroes to all Canadians. I cannot thank them enough for their hard work in keeping our country safe. As the relationship between Canadians and those of Dutch heritage grows deeper, let us not forget the contributions indigenous people made as well for the people of the Netherlands.

I am honoured to speak in the House in support of recognizing every May 5 as Dutch heritage day to honour this unique bond between the Dutch, Canadians and indigenous people. We thank our friends of Dutch heritage for their tremendous contributions to our country. To our incredible soldiers who put their lives on the line for the freedom of the Dutch people and Canadians across the country, we are forever grateful. Again, I am thankful.

Standing Committee on Health December 11th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, as a member of the Standing Committee on Health, it is a great pleasure to have this motion before us. I am very supportive of studying this. When I was in the military, we knew that physical activity was very important to the mental health of soldiers. It is something that needs to be learned throughout a lifetime.

The member for Newmarket—Aurora mentioned how children walk to school in Japan. My children have the opportunity of walking to school, but most of their classmates, in fact, do not. While many of us might have walked to school in our youth and walked barefoot, it has fallen out of the norm. That is quite sad. We need to find ways of ensuring when we create physical environments and infrastructure and recommendations related to that, and when we actually build schools, that they are built so they are walkable for our children and that we make communities which are walkable.

Only 37.9% of children are physically active and there are a lot who are not. Could the member comment on that?

Health December 5th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, problems associated with the use of methamphetamine in my riding and in the prairie provinces are escalating and affecting many people and their families in various communities.

I am proud to say that the city of Winnipeg has launched a task force to look into solutions to deal with the current situation.

I would like to ask the Prime Minister what steps our government is taking, and plans to take, to address methamphetamine use in Canada.

Committees of the House November 29th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, it is extremely important for people to see themselves in the institutions of the nation-state. I have heard many elders say they are not Canadian citizens. As indigenous peoples, we were only allowed to vote in the 1960s.

It is still very difficult. As politicians, when we go out into the rest of Canada to speak with our fellow citizens, many of whom are indigenous, we hear that they do not feel part and parcel of this nation, and that they feel ignored. The action we are taking in this Parliament today is going to go a long way to ensuring that everyone feels included and that we create the nation that we truly deserve for each and every one of us.

It was mentioned in the debate earlier that there could be a shortage of interpreters. In fact, if this institution of Parliament required more interpreters, it would create an industry where more people would have the potential for employment. They would be looking for employment and would see the opportunity and the value of learning their language to such an extremely high level that they can do interpretation at the same time as someone else is speaking. That is an extremely wonderful development.

With that, I would like to throw out a challenge. Next week, the Assembly of First Nations will be meeting in Gatineau for their annual general assembly. I would like to hear translators at those gatherings as well, not only here in Parliament. I would like to hear all indigenous leaders trying to use our language as much as we can. We have to demonstrate leadership, not only here but everywhere, each and every day, so our children know it is important.

Committees of the House November 29th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, when we saw the report, I was very moved by it. I accept that every party was putting forward their full desire, in a good way, to build the Canada we all deserve. I thank the hon. member for his hard work. I remember being at committee as a witness and having him ask me questions.

There is a certain practical nature to this and we are starting something. This is not utopia, as was mentioned. There are practical issues that need to be delved into as we move forward, such as giving two days or reasonable notice. I understand that. As we move forward, is there an interpreter available? There cannot be a question of privilege, if an interpreter is not available. We cannot waste time at the House.

However, as time moves forward, as these services develop, as perhaps members are elected who have a desire to speak one of the more common indigenous languages, then I suspect as we become more accustomed to how we go about that, as we come up with procedures that work in this place and as customs become unto our own, it will become easier and easier to offer indigenous languages.

This is truly a day to start and, in my heart, is a day to celebrate and rejoice about the work we have done in common cause.

Committees of the House November 29th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, it is my belief that parliamentarians have a constitutionally protected right to use an indigenous language in Parliament. Subsection 35(1) of the Constitution Act, 1982 states, “The existing aboriginal treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada are hereby recognized and affirmed.”

Do languages actually fall within these provisions? Professor Karen Drake has written about indigenous language rights in Canada pre-existing the Canadian state, and that these rights have not been extinguished and are still present. Others, like David Leitch and Lorena Fontaine, have been working toward launching a constitutional challenge, arguing that under subsection 35(1), the federal government not only has a negative obligation not to stifle aboriginal languages, but also a positive obligation to provide the resources necessary for the revitalization of those languages.

There are many sub-steps and different ideas that relate to this, especially within a decision in R. v. Van der Peet case that, “To be an aboriginal right an activity must be an element of a practice, custom or tradition integral to the distinctive culture of the aboriginal group claiming the right.” I believe that indigenous languages meet that constitutional requirement.

It is a very interesting argument concerning French and English, but indigenous languages are in fact the original languages of this land and deserve just as much respect. I understand that there are many people from around the world who have come to Canada and who speak other languages. If we looked, for instance, to other parliaments, such as in New South Wales in Australia—Australia was mentioned by the hon. member—it has introduced aboriginal language legislation to ensure the protection of the indigenous languages there, and the ability to hear those languages within the chamber and the provision of services relating to these languages.

Committees of the House November 29th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, that would certainly help Canadians and indigenous peoples learn their own languages. It would also send a strong message that these languages matter.

This week, we heard debates on the pride that francophones have in their language, especially on this side of the House. The same is true for indigenous peoples, but the resources and teachers are often not there.

That is why it would be good to create a need for translators and interpreters who work in these languages right here, in the House. This would have the effect of spurring the development of university curriculums so that such services could eventually be offered across Canada. Over time, more and more people will want to be trained in teaching indigenous languages. This will give young people a chance to learn these languages as young kids. This would be a great source of pride.

Committees of the House November 29th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, actually, it was quite interesting when the member for Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île-des-Soeurs gave a speech in Mohawk. It was interesting to note that when I placed my video online of me speaking Cree, no one took much notice at first. A few people were interested. However, when a non-indigenous person took the time to speak Mohawk, people became very excited, and there were hundreds of thousands of views of that video. It made a lot of people quite proud, because it was not just an indigenous person trying to stand up in the House of Commons for his or her own language; it was others doing it for them.

The member has spent considerable hours learning the Mohawk language. He has been taking exams monthly and spending considerable hours on learning the language, not every day, but as much as he possibly can with his duties here in the House of Commons. It is a great thing when other MPs take the time to learn someone else's language, and in essence, the way people see the world and how they think, and to learn a culture. It shows a great openness and truly an open spirit of a nation-to-nation ideal.