Election 2019 primer: Indigenous affairs

Days after he was sworn in as Prime Minister in late 2015, Justin Trudeau wrote mandate letters to his Cupboard members, and one sentence that appeared in most of the missives stood out: “No relationship is extra vital to me and to Canada than the one with Indigenous Peoples.”

4 years on—amid protest on points starting from pipelines to take care of these struggling the results of mercury-poisoned water—that relationship stays strained, and different events are pushing completely different concepts to maintain Canada on the trail towards reconciliation.

When the Nationwide Inquiry into Lacking and Murdered Indigenous Ladies and Women launched its last report earlier this 12 months, it concluded that these deaths and disappearances had been a part of a genocide Canada has dedicated towards Indigenous peoples. However it additionally included a number of hundred calls for justice, a lot because the Fact and Reconciliation Report of 2015 had. Lots of the latter’s 94 calls stay unfulfilled.

All of the whereas, Indigenous voter turnout is on the rise, and extra Indigenous MPs have been elected to Parliament. Perry Bellegarde, the Grand Chief of the Meeting of First Nations, just lately outlined the organization’s priorities for the election, crediting the present authorities with taking Indigenous points extra significantly than its predecessors. However he stopped wanting endorsing any celebration or chief.

So the place does every celebration stand?


Trudeau stated he needed the reconstruction of Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples to be a part of his legacy. He adopted via on his promise to launch an inquiry into Lacking and Murdered Indigenous Ladies and Women. The Liberals have additionally invested in infrastructure and coaching to assist lift 87 longstanding drinking water advisories on First Nations reserves; the feds and First Nations are on observe to have the remaining 56 advisories lifted by the 2021 goal date.

However extra just lately, polls counsel the Liberals are shedding the assist of many Indigenous voters. Indigenous teams proceed to protest Trudeau for his assist for the Trans Mountain Pipeline; the chief of the Grassy Narrows First Nation introduced his candidacy for the NDP, saying Trudeau “let Indigenous folks down” over the delayed development of a mercury poisoning therapy centre within the area; and the PM additionally confronted criticism for booting Jody Wilson-Raybould—a member of the We Wai Kai Nation—from her high-profile cupboard function as lawyer common, after which the Liberal Occasion altogether, amid the SNC-Lavalin scandal.

What they’ll do: Whereas the Liberals have introduced their full assist of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), they will reportedly pledge to use it to Canadian regulation as a part of their upcoming election platform.


Throughout a Q&A final 12 months, a whole bunch of chiefs from the Meeting of First Nations chiefs acquired to ask Andrew Scheer how he can be completely different from his predecessor, former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, whose authorities apologized for the residential college system, but twice voted towards adopting the UN’s declaration on Indigenous rights. Scheer instructed his viewers it must wait and see when his platform is launched. After which they booed him.

Extra just lately, within the aftermath of the MMIWG inquiry which chronicled violence towards generations First Nations, Métis and Inuit ladies and women, the Conservative chief stated that whereas every dwell misplaced is a tragedy, he didn’t agree that “genocide” is the right time period.

What they’ll do: Nonetheless ready on that platform.


Jagmeet Singh fought to have Invoice C-262 handed into regulation, which might require Canada to align its legal guidelines with the UN declaration, however was left expressing frustration at what he stated was stalling throughout the Senate, successfully killing the invoice. Singh is now pledging to create a nationwide council for reconciliation to offer oversight because the NDP implements UNDRIP and the Fact and Reconciliation report’s calls to motion.

What they’ll do: Per the TRC report, Singh guarantees to create a “Nationwide Day for Fact and Reconciliation.” His platform additionally guarantees to fund on-reserve emergency administration, comparable to firefighting coaching and tools; to renew and increase public transportation in rural and distant areas; and to create a northern infrastructure fund to put money into roads and broadband Web for distant communities.

Inexperienced Occasion:

This summer season, the AFN invited all the foremost political events to ship representatives to talk on the AFN’s annual common meeting. Elizabeth Might, the Greens wish to level out, was the one federal chief to point out up. (MPs from the opposite respective events did attend.)

Might has additionally floated the concept that, if SNC-Lavalin is discovered responsible of fraud and corruption, the engineering firm be sentenced to a type of neighborhood service the place it should repair drinking-water issues on First Nations reserves.

What they’ll do:  The Greens promise to seek the advice of with Indigenous peoples to determine how and when to repeal the much-reviled Indian Act, which the Trudeau authorities sought, but failed, to scrap. The Greens have additionally stated they are going to implement the calls to motion from the TRC, in addition to these from the MMIWG report. The celebration additionally says it can take away the 2 per cent cap on annual will increase to funding for Indigenous post-secondary schooling.