Government Commitments to Truth and Reconciliation: Current Problems

BC


December 11, 2021


First Nations

24th anniversary of Delgamuukw-Gisday’wa decision

Union of BC Indian Chiefs – UBCIC marks the 24th anniversary of the Supreme Court of Canada’s ground-breaking Delgamuukw-Gisday’wa decision, which confirmed the continuing existence of the Wet’suwet’en and Gitxsan Title and Rights, contrary to provincial claims that their Title, if it had existed, had been extinguished. On December 11, 1997 the six members of the Court taking part in the judgment were unanimous in their conclusions that the Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en Title and Rights were never extinguished by Crown occupation, and recognized Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en Title as inalienable, collective rights, based on their continuing use and occupation of their territories.

Since 2019 the RCMP have used force, aggression, and intimidatory tactics against Wet’suwet’en Nation members and allies, and UBCIC notes that while the CGL pipeline has been approved by both provincial and federal governments, it has come under criticism from Amnesty International, B.C.’s Human Rights Commission and the UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, who say all First Nations affected by the pipeline should give free, prior and informed consent before it can proceed.

The governments of Canada and British Columbia continue to openly ignore the Supreme Court of Canada’s precedent-setting Delgamuukw decision, greenlighting the RCMP to engage in whatever violent tactics it deems appropriate to remove peaceful land defenders from their territories. UBCIC also notes that in 2020 the governments of Canada and B.C. signed an MOU with the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs which included:

  • Canada and B.C. recognize that Wet’suwet’en rights and title are held by Wet’suwet’en houses under their system of governance.
  • Canada and B.C. recognize Wet’suwet’en Aboriginal rights and title throughout the Yintah.
  • Legal recognition that the Wet’suwet’en Houses are the Indigenous governing body holding the
  • Wet’suwet’en Aboriginal rights and title in accordance with [their] lnuk Nuatden.
  • Legal recognition of Wet’suwet’en title as a legal interest in land by Canada and B.C.

The UBCIC calls on Canada and BC to uphold the landmark Delagamuukw-Gisday’wa decision and federal and provincial legislation to implement the UN Declaration, and stop any violent or discriminatory practices against Wet’suwet’en land defenders defending their unceded territories.


November 21, 2021


First Nations

25th Anniversay of the RCAP Final Report

Prime Minister’s Office – “25th anniversary of the final report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples”.
The five-volume landmark document outlined 440 recommendations on Indigenous governance, nation rebuilding, lands and resources, treaties, economic development, and social policy, and called for the renewal of the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples and all orders of government in Canada.

“The Government of Canada established the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (the Commission) in 1991, in the aftermath of the conflict at Kanehsatà:ke and Kahnawà:ke, during a time of upheaval, concern, and hope, following longstanding challenges across the country. The Commission’s comprehensive mandate was developed in consultation with national and regional Indigenous leaders and groups, and federal, provincial, and territorial elected representatives. Its mandate was to investigate the evolution of the relationship between Indigenous peoples, the Canadian government, and Canadian society as a whole, propose specific solutions to the problems that have hindered those relationships, and examine all issues it deemed relevant to Indigenous peoples in Canada. What has happened since?

The RCAP Final Report was issued 25 years ago and many of its 440 recommendations were never implemented as acknowledged by Prime Minister Trudeau who stated, “Since 1996, the Commission’s report has continued to inform the actions of successive governments to support Indigenous peoples, even if many of its recommendations have not been fully implemented.”

As of March 22, 2022, according to the Indigenous Watchdog “TRC Calls to Action Status Progress Snapshot” the federal government has completed 8 of the 76 Calls to Action for which they are either directly or jointly accountable. That is 8 completed Calls to Action in 6 ½ years since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission issued its Summary Report on June 2, 2015.

As the Prime Minister pointed out: “The report concluded that many policies pursued since the colonial period onwards had been wrong. In a country built on the ancestral lands of Indigenous peoples, many government policies and societal practices have led to the systemic erosion of many First Nations, Inuit, and Métis cultures, identities, practices, and governance structures and systems.”

25 years later, that statement still rings true. And 25 years later, First Nations, Métis and Inuit people are still waiting for substantive change to take place.


January 7, 2020


First Nations, Inuit, Métis

8 Ways to champion Human Rights

Toronto Star – Toronto Star identified eight ways that Canada can champion human rights in the 2020s, including the following:

  • First step is to adopt overdue legislation making the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Canada’s framework for rights and reconciliation. And to show we truly mean it:
    • address mercury poisoning at Grassy Narrows First Nation,
    • halt construction of the Site C dam in NE British Columbia and
    • redress years of discrimination against First Nations children
  • Second, the final report from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls has been released. Now is time to create a National Action Plan to End Violence Against Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirit People, harmonized with a wider National Action Plan to Prevent and Address Gender-Based Violence.

In addition, two of the other 8 issues by default include Indigenous populations:

  • we are beginning to shake off the smug denial that racism is a concern in Canada. We need to move from anguished hand-wringing to meaningful action. Governments across the country should work to address racism in policing, beginning with consistent laws to ban carding and random street checks.
  • Naming the first Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise last April may help address human rights abuses by Canadian mining and other companies when they operate abroad. But that will remain an empty gesture unless the federal government grants her office the powers to conduct effective investigations. (This impacts Indigenous peoples in other countries where Canadian mining companies operate)

That’s 50% of 8 recommendations!


June 15, 2021


First Nations, Inuit, Métis

AFN/Canada Race Race Relations Foundation poll

Assembly of First Nations – Thirteen years after the Government of Canada offered a formal apology to the survivors of the residential school system and families, 68 percent of Canadians polled still say they were either unaware of the severity of abuses at residential schools or completely shocked by it.

A poll conducted by the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, the Assembly of First Nations and Abacus Data shows that the majority of Canadians believe governments are not doing enough to teach students about the legacy of the residential school system. “The results of the survey expose glaring gaps of knowledge and education related to Canada’s history and renew calls to re-examine questions around who should be held accountable.

  • 93 percent of Canadians are aware of the discovery of remains at the site of the Kamloops Indian Residential School, with 58 percent Canadians following the news closely.
  • This is a slight increase (seven percent) in the number of Canadians who were closely following the news on the legacy of residential schools upon the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report, nearly six years ago.
  • Despite 72 percent of Canadians being saddened by the news of the mass grave, only 10 percent of Canadians are very familiar with the history of the residential school system
  • 62 percent of Canadians believe that provincial education curricula do not include nearly enough about residential schools,
  • 65 percent believe the level of education around residential schools should increase.
  • 70 percent of survey respondents say that the framing of residential schools has been downplayed in the education system.

The majority of Canadians are unequivocal about whom should take responsibility for the damage done by the residential school system:

  • Ninety percent of respondents believe that the federal government is liable for the damage caused by residential schools, followed by the Catholic Church (81 percent) and the RCMP (80 percent).
  • Four out of five Canadians would like to see the Pope formally apologize to the survivors of residential schools. Nearly as many want the federal government to offer more funding to identify other possible mass graves at all residential school sites.

“By margins of greater than three to one, Canadians are telling us they want action on First Nations priorities,” added AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “People want to see Canada accelerate progress on the 94 Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report, invest in efforts to identify all unmarked graves at residential schools, and to stop fighting against our children and residential school survivors in court. Decisionmakers at all levels must heed these calls for action. These are some of the ways we can truly honour the lives of those who were so tragically lost.”


September 14, 2021


First Nations, Inuit, Métis

Native Women’s Association of Canada Political Party Report Card

Native Women’s Association of Canada – NWAC commissioned Nanos Research to compare the parties’ platforms with the 11 policy issues NWAC determined to be of primary importance. Those policy issues include:

  • human rights
  • self-determination
  • reconciliation
  • environment
  • clean water
  • housing
  • child welfare
  • justice and policing
  • employment and
  • economic development, and
  • health care.

The result is a 79-page document called SCORECARD: Where do the federal parties stand on Indigenous women’s issues:

  • First: NDP – A (52 points)
  • Second: Liberal – B (45 points)
  • Third: Green – B (41 points)
  • Fourth: Conservatives – D (26 points)
  • Fifth: Bloc Québecois – D (19 points)

https://www.nwac.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/NWAC_SCORECARD.pdf


September 14, 2021


First Nations, Inuit, Métis

Native Women’s Association of Canada Political Party Report Card

NDP

Liberal Green Conservative Bloc Québecois

A

B

B

D

D

Rights of Indigenous Women & MMIWG2S

4

5 5 2

1

Self Determination & Decision-Making

5

5 5 4

5

Reconciliation & residential Schools

5

3 4 3

3

Environment & Climate Change

5

4 4 1

1

Clean Drinking Water & Public Services

5

5 3 3

2

Housing

4

5 4 2

1

Child Welfare

5

4 4 1

1

Justice and Policing

5

2 4 2

1

Employment and Econ. Dev.

4

3 1 4

2

Education

5

4 3 1

1

Health Care

5

5 4 3

1

TOTAL SCORE

52

45 41 26

19


July 11, 2019


First Nations, Inuit, Métis

The Council of The Federation, bi-annual meetings of the Federal, Provincial and Territory Premiers

Refusal to allow leaders of the Assembly of First Nations, the Métis National Council, the Inuit Tapariit Kanatami and the Native Woman’s Association of Canada to participate in the main body of meetings with a primary focus on climate change within each jurisdiction. As has been noted by numerous media, Indigenous peoples are on the frontlines of climate change, especially in the north.

Multiple articles in UNDRIP explicitly address the rights of Indigenous peoples “to free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them” (Article 19) as well other fundamental rights relating to treaties and land claims, spiritual relationship “to lands, territories, waters and coastal seas and other resources (Article 25)”,and “the right to the conservation and protection of the environment and the productive capacity of their lands or territories and resources (Article 29).

Articles 1, 18, 19, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 32, 37, 40, 42, 46

Fully and completely honor the commitment to UNDRIP specifically and “Reconciliation” in general. Develop and implement the logistical framework and protocols to allow the leadership of the designated national Indigenous organizations – AFN, Métis National Council, Inuit Tapariit Kanatami and Native Women’s Association of Canada) to participate in all agenda items that directly impact Indigenous peoples.
https://www.un.org/development/desa/indigenouspeoples/wp-content/uploads/sites/19/2018/11/UNDRIP_E_web.pdf


July 9, 2019


First Nations, Inuit, Métis

Towards Justice: Tackling Indigenous Child Poverty in Canada

Upstream – Failure to reduce the level of poverty among Indigenous children. Tracking Indigenous child poverty and non-Indigenous child poverty trends between Census 2006 and Census 2016, it’s clear that these differences have not markedly changed over that 10-year period. “Towards Justice: Tackling Indigenous Child Poverty in Canada” co-authored by the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) and published by Upstream: Institute for a Healthy Society says First Nations children experience the highest levels of poverty in Canada.

The following straightforward recommendations should be included in the federal government’s poverty reduction plan:

  • Low-income lines, including the Market Basket Measure (MBM) and the after-tax Low Income Measure (LIM-AT), should be applied on reserves and in the territories;
  • Reserves, conditional upon the agreement of First Nations governments, should be included in annual income surveys, as has already begun to occur in the territories;
  • The federal government should commit to a 20% reduction in MBM poverty on reserves between 2015 and 2020 and 50% reduction between 2015 and 2030.16 This is in line with the national goals, but should be evaluated separately for reserves;
  • The federal government should commit to supporting self-determination, both financially and jurisdictionally, with an emphasis on revenue sharing.

https://www.afn.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Upstream_report_final_English_June-24-2019.pdf


December 15, 2020


First Nations, Inuit, Métis

TRC Commissioners comments about pace of Reconciliation

APTN – The three commissioners of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Senator Murray Sinclair, Chief Wilton Littlechild, and Dr. Marie Wilson, are issuing a public statement expressing their concern about the slow and uneven pace of implementation of the Calls to Action released by the TRC five years ago today… While they acknowledge important and encouraging initiatives that have been made, they note that the essential foundations for reconciliation have yet to be implemented, despite government commitments, especially the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People and the National Council for Reconciliation The three Commissioners have come together for the first time since the release of TRC’s final report because they feel strongly that the sense of urgency, purpose and unity around the Calls to Action must be renewed.

“Five years ago today, we delivered a report, and 94 Calls to Action, that we hoped would change the fabric of Canada forever, and bring forward important changes in Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples. We’ve seen some promising changes like new curriculum and courses that teach the history of Residential Schools in Canada. However, it is very concerning that the federal government still does not have a tangible plan for how they will work towards implementing the Calls to Action,” said Senator Murray Sinclair.


June 30, 2022


First Nations

Tŝilhqot’in Nation Condemns Destructive B.C. Moose Harvest Allocation

Williams Lake, B.C.: The Tŝilhqot’in Nation is condemning the B.C. government’s destructive moose harvest allocation for the Chilcotin Region in recent days and expressing its opposition, in the strongest terms, to B.C.’s drastic escalation of Limited Entry Hunts (LEH) for moose in Tŝilhqot’in territory.

Tŝilhqot’in people depend on moose for sustenance and cultural survival. For many years, Tŝilhqot’in hunters and members have reported struggling moose populations, and not enough moose to feed our families and communities. Many members have chosen not to hunt moose for the past several years, out of concern for the survival of moose populations.

The Province’s own surveys show the moose population in the Chilcotin at its lowest point on record. Instead of raising the alarm, the Province has now drastically increased the LEH for moose – effectively doubling the number of moose LEH permits issued in the Chilcotin region compared to last year.

The Tŝilhqot’in Nation opposes LEH moose hunting in the territory, given the lowest population estimates on record and the devastating impacts on habitat in recent years from unprecedented wildfires, beetle epidemics, wide-scale industrial logging and increased predation and competition with other species.

BC’s decision to increase the LEH in Tŝilhqot’in territory disrespects and disregards the traditional knowledge of Tŝilhqot’in hunters and members, and violates the Aboriginal rights and title of the Tŝilhqot’in peoples, and our international human rights under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The Tŝilhqot’in Nation has a duty and responsibility under Tŝilhqot’in law to prevent the destruction of the moose population in our territory. Tŝilhqot’in leaders are meeting together and with membership to decide next steps in response to B.C.’s decision and the direct threat that it poses to the wellbeing of Tŝilhqot’in families and communities, and the survival of the Tŝilhqot’in way of life.

Quotes:

Nits’ilʔin (Chief) Joe Alphonse, O.B.C, Tŝilhqot’in National Government

“We have to take action on this issue. Mismanagement of our wildlife affects us directly. The 2017 wildfires left much of our wildlife stressed from the destruction of their habitat. Our people rely heavily on the moose populations. The province needs to do more – a business as usual approach will not be tolerated. We do not recognize the authority of any government to make the same decisions – without our consent, over our objections – and mismanage our lands and wildlife. We have fought to maintain jurisdiction over our territory, and there is a blatant disregard for that when it comes to the management of wildlife. B.C. needs to start acting to protect and preserve these populations. Our people are not going to sit and watch moose disappear in the territory like we have witnessed with the caribou. Hunters that planned to come to the Chilcotin need to be making other plans – don’t come to the Chilcotin.”

Nits’ilʔin Otis Guichon, Sr., Tŝideldel First Nation, TNG Tribal Vice-Chair

“Our people are living with crisis upon crisis. Our salmon runs have collapsed to record lows and for the first time our people have had to choose not to fish for food in recent years. Our members are not getting the moose they need to feed their families. Our caribou populations are threatened and at risk of extinction in our lifetime. These are decisions that affect whether we can put food on our tables for our elders and our communities. This B.C. government continues to talk about UNDRIP and reconciliation, but they continue to ignore and disrespect us, and make the same decisions – without our consent, over our objections, and mismanage our lands and wildlife to the state that they are in now. Our people will not stand for it. The BC Government should be ashamed of this decision”


November 18, 2021


First Nations

Wet’suwet’en Coastal GasLInk protests

Toronto Star – Fifteen people, including Indigenous elders, media and legal observers, had been arrested by the afternoon, according to Jennifer Wickham, a spokesperson for the hereditary chiefs and their supporters. Wickham stressed they had been acting peacefully.

Wickham said armed RCMP officers in tactical gear with canine units and heavy machinery moved into the Gidimt’en blockade at the 44-kilometre mark of the Morice Forest Service Road, using a vehicle and other obstacles to block the road. The blockade had been in place since Sunday after being set up by members of the Gidimt’en clan, one of five in the Wet’suwet’en Nation. They described the blockade as an effort to enforce an “eviction notice” on the company that the nation had first issued last year.

Wickham said Thursday the memorandum of understanding was meant to work toward agreements on Wet’suwet’en rights and titles; it did not include consent to the pipeline. She said pipeline opponents largely stepped back from protests due to the pandemic and to see how the talks progressed.
But they have not gone anywhere, she said.


February 6, 2020


First Nations

Wet’suwet’en Coastal GasLInk protests

Union of BC Indian Chiefs – RCMP began aggressively raiding Wet’suwet’en traditional and unceded territories under the watch of the Provincial and Federal Governments. Chief Don Tom, Vice-President of the UBCIC concluded “Using armed force to take Indigenous peoples off their unceded and traditional territories against their will is not reconciliation, it is colonialism in all of its ugliness and hypocrisy.


January 6, 2020


First Nations

Wet’suwet’en Coastal GasLInk protests

Hereditary Chiefs of all five Wet’suwet’en clans have rejected BC Supreme Court Justice Marguerite Church’s decision granting an interlocutory injunction, which criminalizes Anuk ‘nu’at’en (Wet’suwet’en law), and have issued and enforced an eviction of CGL’s workers from the territory.

“Canada and the B.C. government have both pledged to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, but are trying to impose their laws over Wet’suwet’en laws. If this was really about the ‘rule of law’ then governments would be honouring the rights and title of First Nations in their traditional territories, which are recognized by Canada’s own courts. The AFN supports the governance and decision-making process of the Wet’suwet’en leaders. Canada and B.C. should do the same. There is no reconciliation in the actions that unfolded yesterday.” AFN National Chief, Perry Bellegarde


January 10, 2019


First Nations

Wet’suwet’en Coastal GasLink protests

What happens when you engage Hereditary Chiefs in the Process vs excluding them?

Union of BC Indian Chiefs – “There are not a lot of similarities between the Broughton and the Unist’ot’en engagement with the Province (as stated by Premier John Horgan). In June, government-to-government work between our three Nations and the Province was confirmed in a letter of understanding (LOU) formalizing ongoing talks regarding salmon aquaculture in the Broughton Archipelago. Importantly, this was a jointly developed consent-based process where our Title and Rights were recognized and as a result, we included our hereditary leadership in decision-making on outcomes.

That’s an extremely important distinction because for us, that’s how we respected Delgamuukw and the wishes of our people. The Province also followed its own decision-making process. There was space in the process to revisit any Tenure decisions that weren’t jointly accepted. I’m confident that we would not have reached a point of RCMP action at Gitimd’en if a jointly designed, consent-based process had been in place.” Chief Bob Chamberlin of the Kwikwasutinuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation


October 15, 2020


First Nations

Wet’suwet’en protests against Coastal GasLink

Union of BC Indian Chiefs – Coastal GasLink called in the RCMP to remove a group of Wet’suwet’en women and community members who are holding ceremony at a proposed drill site for Coastal Gaslink’s pipeline. UBCIC stands in solidarity with the Indigenous land defenders who are protecting the Wedzin Kwa, the river that sustains and gives life to their Nation, from test drilling. These land defenders are lawfully exercising their right to steward their unceded territories and strengthen their cultural ties to their lands through the sacred responsibility of prayer, smudging, and ceremony.

The presence of the RCMP and the threat they represent – surveillance, intimidation, arrest, discrimination, and violence – undermines the authority and self-determination of the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs who have full jurisdiction over Wet’suwet’en lands.

Given the forthcoming provincial election and renewed statements from political leaders regarding the importance of reconciliation and advancing Indigenous relations, it is worrisome that systemic violations of fundamental Indigenous and human rights continue to occur over major energy projects such as the CGL pipeline and the Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMX). Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the myriad of additional challenges First Nations are facing, the Province can no longer afford to deem industrial projects like the CGL pipeline and the TMX as essential services and adopt a “business as usual” approach. The health and safety of Indigenous communities must be prioritized.

Indigenous land defenders and community members cannot be criminalized and targeted for asserting their Title and Rights and conducting