On topic: Indigenous reconciliation

Kamloops This Week has questioned Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo candidates on a number of topics. Next on the list is INDIGENOUS RECONCILIATION as we ask those who seek to be MP

Justin Trudeau made Indigenous reconciliation: a priority during the last campaign and reviews have been mixed since 2015. What should be done that is not being done on this issue?

Kira Cheeseborough
Kira Cheeseborough is Animal Protection Party candidate for Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo in the 2019 federal election. - Dave Eagles/KTW

Kira Cheeseborough, Animal Protection Party:

"Implementing all 94 calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, I think that is of paramount importance.

“We also need to look at the recommendations put forth by the inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Another huge thing is we need to be supporting Indigenous communities to reclaim their self-governance and their sovereignty.

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“When we're looking at our current government, it is established on colonization and they sought eradication of Indigenous peoples. Who better to know what is going to be best for their communities than the Indigenous communities themselves?

“So we, long term, are also wanting to ensure that Indigenous communities have equal say in decisions that are going to impact their communities ,such as pipelines or mining developments and that there is consent received from every single community before a project is pushed forward.”

Iain Currie Green party candidate
Iain Currie is the Green candidate for Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo in the 2019 federal election. - Dave Eagles/KTW

Iain Currie, Green Party:

“First of all, it needs to be an Indigenous-led effort. Some of the things I don’t see being addressed, for example, I think the government’s response so far to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, I think it’s a real shame that that hasn’t been passed into legislation, so that’s something the Green Party would support and also addressing the specific calls for action in the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls report and also the Truth and Reconciliation Commission — there needs to be a more aggressive implementation of those recommendations.

“Now, all of that needs to be Indigenous-led, but the good thing about those reports is they were Indigenous-led. They should have given us all a sense of urgency about making reconciliation a priority and it also gave Canadian governments a pretty explicit roadmap of what these detailed reports of crimes committed against our First Nations people [are] and how to go about starting the process of reconciliation.”

Cynthia Egli
Cynthia Egli is the NDP candidate for Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo in the Oct. 21 federal election. - Michael Potestio/KTW

Cynthia Egli, New Democratic Party:

"I honestly feel both the Conservatives and the Liberals need to stop giving lip service to the process. “The federal NDP believe in the full recognition of the human rights of Indigenous people. All Canadians have a right to be treated equally and, as far as I can tell, they’re (NDP) the only party to take this stance as a party in general

“I could give a bunch of  examples where the Liberals lately have not treated everyone in Canada equally, but we're at an important moment. So many Canadians want to engage in meaningful reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. I feel it's absolutely linked to the climate issue as well and we’re committed to true nation to nation relationships.

“Under our plan, Indigenous communities can have safe housing, clean drinking water, access to health care and quality education. Justin Trudeau can make things happen, yet there's still Indigenous people living on reserves that don’t have clean, safe drinking water. That's a human right and I think in today's day and age ... I feel that if you can make a plan to build a pipeline, you can also figure out how to make everyone's water sate to drink, so that’s what I mean about giving lip service.

“We also should be working towards full equality for LGBTQ and two-spirited Canadians. That's not mentioned enough.”

Ken Finlayson
Ken Finlayson is the People's Party candidate for Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo in the 2019 federal election. - Dave Eagles/KTW

Ken Finlayson, People’s Party:

"That's an important one. That's probably the single-most important social issue facing Canada today. “We had something like 150 years ever since day one with Confederation on what is essentially segregation [from the Indian Act]. We like to self-righteously point our fingers at South Africa and countries like that that instigated segregation and turn a blind eye to our own. We've had it for over 150 years and we have to move away from it somehow. We can't do it overnight, but we at least need to start moving in that direction.”

Finlayson said he believes First Nations reservations have outlived their usefulness in most parts of Canada, noting bands in Kamloops, Osoyoos and Westbank are progressive and good examples of exceptions.

"Most of Canada would do well to take a lesson from these bands and the way they've approached social and economic development in their communities. We need to move toward integrating our native people into full integration — and that's not assimilation, that's not the same word. Integration is different than assimilation. I know at one time the government said we need assimilation because the hunter-gathering cultures are doomed.”

Finlayson also disagrees with Canada's Gladue principle, saying it fosters prejudice and is an aberration of justice for First Nations victims. (The Gladue principle is a form of of pre-sentencing and bail hearing report a judge can request when considering sentencing an offender of Aboriginal background.)

“They need to join the 21st century as full and equal partners and special status isn't the answer because if you assign special status, I don't know if you've got children or not, but if you just assign special status to one of them, or assign special status to someone in a classroom or someone on a team, you will inevitably mark that person for discrimination and prejudice.

"We need to move towards full equality of all Canadians. I don't think there's any higher respect you can pay anyone than to regard them as full equals and we currently don't do that. We Balkanize our society into having different laws and different status for different people. That creates resentment. We don't need that.”

Peter Kerek
Peter Kerek is the Communist candidate for Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo in the 2019 federal election. - Dave Eagles/KTW file

Peter Kerek, Communist Party:

"Our party supports the full implementation of the 94 recommendations from the Reconciliation Commission, as well as the recommendations that came out of the Missing and Murdered  Indigenous Women's Committee.

“The federal government should stop their legal battle against Indigenous communities who have had their case proven in the the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal that the federal government has been underfunding them for a very very long time. The tribunal found Canada guilty of willfully underfunding on-reserve child welfare and ordered each child be paid $40,000 in 2016.

“They've had eight orders of non-compliance made against them for failing to implement the initial orders of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. These seven orders have come while Mr. Trudeau has been in power. There's a huge disconnect between his commitment to reconciliation and the reality of what's happening in our legal system.”

Terry Lake
Terry Lake is the Liberal candidate for Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo in the 2019 federal election. - Dave Eagles/KTW

Terry Lake, Liberal Party:

"We just had minister Seamus O'Regan here, who's the Indigenous services minister, so I had a long conversation with him. They just passed Bill 92, which was giving more First Nations delegated authority for children and family services. That's happening across Canada, but it really was piloted in British Columbia.

“British Columbia has really set the mark for many initiatives that I think are positive in terms of reconciliation. The First Nations Health Authority, for instance. I think that is something that other provinces, territories and First Nations should look to British Columbia [for] and perhaps the federal government can help expand that because it is a tripartite agreement.

"It's a long process. A First Nations leader told me the other day there were seven generations affected by residential schools [and] it's going to take seven generations to get to a better place, so this is long term. We won't get everything done in a four- or even eight-year term. You need to plan for a long-term positive relationship, but I think in the last four years, Prime Minister Trudeau and his government have done a lot of work on this file and taken us into a better place.”

Cathy McLeod
Cathy McLeod is the Conservative candidate for Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo in the 2019 federal election. - Dave Eagles/KTW

Cathy McLeod, Conservative Party:

“I think, in my travels from coast to coast to coast, there are communities who have been doing exceptionally well and those are communities that have embraced some economic opportunities.

“I think there are many ways the government needs to support Indigenous communities in terms of getting ahead, obviously water and education are critical, but I think equally as critical is removing those barriers for them to be successful.

"That is an area I think has been neglected by the current government — focusing on these communities that are keen to move forward in areas of opportunity.

“The Indian Act has incredible barriers for economic success. The paternal Indian Act that requires many First Nations to not be in charge of their own future creates many barriers for success, so I think there’s a whole host of issues that need to be dealt with in terms of structure.

"I think there’s been great work done, whether it’s mining companies or others providing opportunities, benefit agreements, partnerships, and I think most communities want to take charge and want less involvement of the federal government and chart their own future.”

© Kamloops This Week


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