Manitoba’s Speech from the Throne commits to reconciliation. In actual fact, it doesn’t


On November 15, 2022 the Manitoba Government Speech from the Throne identified the following priorities and commitments:

  • Helping Make Our Communities Safer
  • Helping Families Make Ends Meet
  • Strengthening Health Care and Reducing Surgical and Diagnostic Backlogs
  • Helping Make Manitoba More Competitive
  • Helping Protect Our environment, Climate and Parks
  • Helping Build Stronger Communities
  • Advancing Reconciliation

Immediately after the preamble each of the above priorities receives its own own dedicated section expanding on what the government will do to advance each one – except Advancing Reconciliation – which is completely ignored. To add even further insult, the conclusion of the Speech from the Throne repeats all the above priorities except, you guessed it – Advancing Reconciliation – which again is completely ignored and literally and physically erased from the document.

In the last Speech from the Throne the government committed to “significant efforts towards reconciliation” while the current government committed to “Advancing Reconciliation”. What does that say about the governments commitments and priorities towards Indigenous peoples?

So what does the government say about “Advancing Reconciliation” in the rest of the document.

Helping Make Our Communities Safer

  • Our recent investment of $1.7M in N’Dinawemak’s 24/7 shelter ensures that those in need have a safe warm place to spend the night

Not bad. $1.7M out of a $15M investment to combat homelessness. Winnipeg has an 11.1% per capita Indigenous population and the homeless population is up to 50% Indigenous (Homeless Hub).

  • The Downtown Community Safety Partnership is making strides in creating a safer city centre. Earlier this month, we extended funding to the DCSP with a $3.6M grant.

Meanwhile, the Bear Clan Patrol, founded in 1992 received their first ever Manitoba government grant of $100,000 to support their annual operating costs as well as a one-time grant of $100,000 to purchase “safety equipment and other supplies for its volunteers including high-visibility vests, puncture-resistant gloves, flashlights and multi-tool pocket knives”.

  • Violence against women and girls, and incidence of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, continue to be a priority for our government. The first progress report and update to the gender-based violence framework will be released in the coming months

No Commitments. No actions. Just another “Progress Report”.

Strengthening Health Care

  • Across Canada, many seniors suffered horribly through the pandemic. To better protect and safeguard them, we are committed to further improving our long-term care homes as a demonstration of care, concern and respect to the generations who have committed so much to Manitoba.

No question that seniors suffered horribly. There is also no question that First Nations were the hardest hit during the COVID-19 pandemic just as they were during the H1N1 influenza when Manitoba First Nations were the hardest hit of all First Nations in Canada

“First Nations people in Manitoba – who make up only 12% of the population – account for 25 per cent of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the province, and 40 per cent of cases in ICU as of Jan. 18, 2022 according to the Manitoba First Nations COVID-19 Pandemic Response Co-ordination Team” (CBC)

What happened to the disproportionate burden carried by Indigenous people – both on and off reserve!

  • Suicide crises are most acute within Indigenous communities. Building on our existing five-year roadmap for mental health, we will complete and implement a provincially-coordinated strategy for suicide prevention focusing on youth and at-risk communities

The Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth released “Stop Giving Me a Number and Start Giving Me a Person: How 22 Girls Illuminate the Cracks in the Manitoba Youth Mental Health and Addiction System” in 2020. The report focuses on the suicide of 22 girls aged 11-17 from mostly rural and norther communities between 2013 -2019. 20 of the victims were either First Nations or Métis.

Another case of “We will build and complete”. Just wait. It’s coming….

  • Our government is committed to collaborating with Indigenous communities and the federal government to bolster regional health care and mental health and addictions services

How? When? Where? How much is Manitoba willing to invest?

Education

Nothing specific

Making Manitoba More Competitive

  • Economic reconciliation, key to building a stronger province for everyone, will continue with Indigenous Peoples by removing barriers to full participation in Manitobas’s economy, ensuring access to education and training, and revenue sharing

Indigenous leaders have called out the provincial government on its unilateral approach to Indigenous consultation. See the following in Indigenous Watchdog:

  • May 14, 2021: Summit of Treaty 5 First Nations “Declaration of Natural Resources on First Nations Terrritory” (Treaties and Land Claims)
  • Aug. 9, 2022: Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs asks government to honour promises made on 151st anniversary of Treaty 1 and Treaty 2 (Treaties and Land Claims)

Helping Protect Our Environment, Climate and Parks

Nothing specific. Although , please note the following:

  • Oct. 14, 2022: Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs calls out Manitoba over meagre Indigenous Economic Development Fund for the Interlake Outlet Channel Project (Business and Reconciliation)
  • Oct. 29, 2021: Manitoba Métis Section 35 Rights (in response to Conservation Officer Service)

Helping to Build Stronger Communities

Nothing specific.

IN SUMMARY:

  1. Advancing Reconciliation
    • Section dropped completely with nothing specific to say
  2. Making Communities Safer
    • $1.7M funding to help address homelessness
    • MMIWG: Progress Report is coming. In the meantime No concrete action or commitments
  3. Making Ends Meet: Nothing specific
  4. Strengthening Health Care
    • Suicide Crisis: Under development. Still to be “complete and implemented”
    • Regional health care and mental health: No Actions. No details. Dependant upon the federal government
  5. Education: Nothing specific
  6. Manitoba more competitive: Economic reconciliation with some rather significant Indigenous caveats
  7. Protecting Environment: Nothing specific
  8. Build Stronger Communities: Nothing specific

Of 8 sections , 5 have absolutely nothing specific to say about Indigenous reconciliation and 3 items are still under development with nothing specific to say

The Land Acknowledgement at the beginning of the speech pays lip service to the fact that “Manitoba is located on the Treaty Territories and ancestral lands of the Anishnaabe, Cree, Ojibway Cree, Inuit, Dakota and Dene Peoples” and the also on “the Homeland of the Red River Métis and that Northern Manitoba “includes lands that were and are the ancestral lands of the Inuit”.

In the preamble to the speech, immediately after the Land Acknowledgement, the Speech states that “The crown underpins our constitutional relationships with the federal and provincial governments and Indigenous communities. Notice the deliberate usage of the word “communities” and NOT the Treaty relationships with First Nations and Métis. This underscores the Manitoba government’s position that the land that Manitoba sits on is under the jurisdiction of the federal and provincial governments. The Nation-to-Nation context between Indigenous Nations and the Crown is erased as it has been since confederation in 1867, Treaty 1 in 1871 and 1870 when The Manitoba Act – proclaimed by the Métis government of Louis Riel – brought Manitoba into Confederation.

So much for honouring the Treaties.

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