Government Commitments to Truth and Reconciliation: Current Problems


January 7, 2020

AB, BC, Fed. Govt., MB, NB, NL, NS, NT, NU, ON, PE, QC, SK, YT

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!

April 20, 2018


AFN-QL Opposition to Bill 99

Assembly of First Nations Québec-Labrador – In response to the decision of the Quebec Superior Court to uphold the Act respecting the exercise of the fundamental rights and prerogatives of the Québec people and the Québec State (Bill 99), the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL) totally rejects the very foundations of the Quebec provincial government’s claims contained in Bill 99.

“It is ironic that, 18 years after claiming its right to self-determination in Bill 99, Quebec, which speaks of its ability to take control of its future, has made no progress in recognizing First Nations Aboriginal and Treaty Rights. Demanding for yourself what you deny to others is absurd,” says Ghislain Picard, Chief of the AFNQL, who is not surprised that Indigenous issues are not considered.…Whatever they say, whatever they do, the cultures, values and philosophies of our peoples were and are fundamentally different from anything that characterizes Quebec’s dominant society.

Let us be clear and say it like it is: I am not Canadian, I am not a Quebecer, I am Innu. AFNQL Chief Ghislain Picard on October 25, 2006.

June 15, 2021

AB, BC, Fed. Govt., MB, NB, NL, NS, NT, NU, ON, PE, QC, SK, YT

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.”

May 8, 2019

Fed. Govt., NL, NU, YT

Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting (Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC)

CBC – For the first time, the final declaration of the Ministers of the 8 countries that make up the ICC did not include the views of the Arctic Council’s permanent Indigenous organizations, Unlike the usual declarations, which are developed with their input, the compromise joint ministerial statement – which did not include any reference to “climate change” at the insistence of the United States – was put together without them. The ICC, which represents 165,000 Inuit in Alaska, Canada, Greenland, and Chukotka, Russia, blasted the U.S. for torpedoing the Rovaniemi Declaration at Tuesday’s Arctic Council ministerial after refusing to sign on if the words “climate change” were included in the joint document.
James Stotts, ICC’s Alaska president, said sidelining Indigenous contributions and views was a dangerous precedent for the Arctic Council, a forum that has long prided itself for including Arctic Indigenous groups since its founding.

February 20, 2019


Canada underinvests in Nunavut

CBC – The Nunavut Finance Minister has presented a budget that is virtually the same as previous years, an indication that the Government of Canada is continuing to underinvest in the Territory. The Territory’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has grown approximately by five percent annually since 1999 and growth in the economy is expected to remain growing by that margin into 2026.
During the Territory’s healthy economic growth we have continued to see statistics indicate declining quality in health among Nunavut Inuit. It appears the Government of Nunavut budget continues to have a focus on balancing budgets as opposed to meeting the needs of Inuit in the areas of education, training, health and housing.

November 15, 2018


Closing Child and Youth Advocate Office

Letter from the Provincial Advocate for Children. Mar. 13, 2019
Progressive Conservative government announced as part of its Fall Economic Outlook that they would be repealing the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth Act, 2007, and transferring investigation authority into child welfare services, residential care (including youth justice) and children’s secure treatment to the Ombudsman’s Office.

30% of child welfare caseload in Ontario is Indigenous despite comprising only 4.1% of the population. Many of the provisions in the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth, 2007, will not be carried over to the Ombudsman’s Office.

These include, but are not limited to:

  • broadening the Ombudsman’s investigation mandate to include all children and youth currently served within our mandate;
  • the power to investigate or be notified of incidents of serious occurrences, such as when a young person dies or suffers serious bodily harm; and
  • the responsibility to provide rights education to children and youth seeking or receiving services.

September 12, 2017

Fed. Govt., NU

Failure to reach Inuit employment targets

A full set of Inuit employment plans with targets and timelines for expanded Inuit employment were supposed to have been completed for each federal and territorial department by 1996. The Nunavut Inuit Labor Force Analysis (NILFA) report issued on Aug. 27, 2018 offers details on relevant issues and background
A recent report by Nunavut Tunngavit Inc. estimates lost wages to Nunavut Inuit in government work forces to be $1.284B from 2017-2023. The report also estimates unnecessary costs over the same period to be $519M. The Government of Nunavut workforce has been stalled at an approximately 50% Inuit participation rate, concentrated at lower pay grades, while Federal Government work force is at an even lower level. The Nunavut Inuit Labor Force Analysis (NILFA) is a thorough 1000-page report that analyzes Inuit interest, availability and preparedness for government employment.

February 28, 2019

Fed. Govt.

Firing of Jody Wilson-Raybould over SNC-Lavalin

Firing Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of Canada Jody Wilson-Raybould for refusing to grant SNC-Lavalin a “Deferred Prosecution Agreement”. As she stated in her testimony to the Justice Committee: “I was taught to always hold true to your core values, principles and to act with integrity…I am a truth teller in accordance with the laws and traditions of our Big House”.
“The history of Crown-Indigenous relations in this country, includes a history of the rule of law not being respected…And I have seen the negative impacts for freedom, equality and a just society this can have first-hand.” Jody Wilson-Raybould. “For more than150 years Canada has bent laws, disrespected treaties, spent millions taking First Nations to court over resource sharing and tried to bully communities into pipelines.” Tanya Talaga. Toronto Star. March 1, 2019

March 19, 2019

Fed. Govt.

Funding for National Council for Reconciliation

Deferring the budget decision to fund the National Council for Reconciliation until AFTER the next election. The Interim Board of Directors appointed in Dec. 2017 submitted their interim report to Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs on June 12, 2018. The 2020 fiscal year beginning April 1, 2020 will be almost five years since the TRC Summary Report was issued on June 2, 2015 and almost 2 years since the National Council interim board submitted their report on June 2018 with detailed recommendations on mandate, scope, budget, reporting, governance etc. This will be the third government since the TRC Summary Report was issued: Stephen Harper, Justin Trudeau (2 x).Make that 3x and no progress as of Dec. 5, 2021)

April 1, 2022

Government of Québec reneges on Indigenous commitments

CISION: Assembly of First Nations of Québec and Labrador

  • refusal to include the notion of cultural safety in its Health and Social Services Act
  • refusal to establish a new Protector of Indigenous students position
  • refusal to establish an Assistant Commissioner and team to address issue impacting Indigenous children

Le Devoir recently published an article announcing that the Government of Quebec would not be honoring its commitment to include the notion of cultural safety in its Health and Social Services Act, thus feeding the insecurities experienced by First Nations within this system.

Far from being a true understanding of the realities faced by First Nations people who experience racism and discrimination in public services, this earlier commitment by the CAQ was made in response to the tragic death of Joyce Echaquan and the subsequent complaints of other Indigenous patients at the Joliette hospital. This was also one of the recommendations of the Viens commission report (C.E.R.P.).

This legislative measure was but a very small weapon to fight such a great scourge as racism in the health and social services system and now, Quebec is backtracking and refusing to implement this timid measure. Asked by Le Devoir about this change of heart, the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, Ian Lafrenière, said that despite this setback, his government was still “discussing the idea”.

“Fighting systemic racism against First Nations will take more than words. The CAQ government prefers to isolate itself in its denial of the very existence of systemic racism that threatens the well-being and safety of First Nations people, even though its existence has been denounced in every forum, by the public and by the commissions of inquiry as well as by the opposition parties. Only the CAQ government does not see systemic racism in its public services,” said Ghislain Picard, Chief of the AFNQL.

In the same article published by Le Devoir, we learn that the CAQ has also rejected a proposal to establish a new Protector of Indigenous students position, an idea consistent with recommendations of the Viens Commission. The minister’s argument in support of this decision is that there will be one protector for all students. This reasoning is problematic because the inequalities that exist between Indigenous students and their non-Indigenous counterparts will require adapted measures to eliminate the gap in educational achievement that exists between these populations. Also of note is Minister Carman’s exclusion of the recommendation to establish an Assistant Commissioner position and a team dedicated exclusively to issues impacting Indigenous children with the Commissioner of well-being and the rights of children, proposed in the framework of the Commission Laurent. By insisting on a one size fits all approach, the government is in fact reinforcing the inequities that First Nations students continue to experience within the education system.

Refusal to include cultural safety in legislation, refusal to take specific measures to support First Nations in their pursuit of academic achievement, refusal to recognize systemic racism, etc. The AFNQL Chiefs are saying that the government’s systematic denial of the unique realities experienced by First Nations has gone on for far too long. Faced with a provincial government that prides itself on being proactive and seeking concrete solutions, it is easy to see why First Nations are just not buying the good faith rhetoric being peddled by this government.

September 14, 2021

AB, BC, Fed. Govt., MB, NB, NL, NS, NT, NU, ON, PE, QC, SK, YT

Native Women’s Association of Canada Political Party Report Card


Liberal Green Conservative Bloc Québecois






Rights of Indigenous Women & MMIWG2S


5 5 2


Self Determination & Decision-Making


5 5 4


Reconciliation & residential Schools


3 4 3


Environment & Climate Change


4 4 1


Clean Drinking Water & Public Services


5 3 3




5 4 2


Child Welfare


4 4 1


Justice and Policing


2 4 2


Employment and Econ. Dev.


3 1 4




4 3 1


Health Care


5 4 3




45 41 26


September 14, 2021

AB, BC, Fed. Govt., MB, NB, NL, NS, NT, NU, ON, PE, QC, SK, YT

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)

August 14, 2019

Fed. Govt., NU

Qikiqtani Truth Commission

Government of Canada – The Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations delivered an official apology on behalf of the Government of Canada to the Qikiqtani Inuit for the Government’s actions in the Qikiqtani region between 1950 and 1975. To move forward, Minister Bennett announced that Canada and the Qikiqtani Inuit Association (QIA) have established a Memorandum of Understanding to work in partnership to build a long-term and sustainable response to the Qikiqtani Truth Commission’s findings. This includes identified funding to implement programming for Qikiqtani Inuit to promote Inuit culture, healing and well-being for current and future generations.

January 31, 2019

Fed. Govt., NU

Qikiqtani Truth Commission

Qikiqtani Inuit Association – QIA releases “Action on the Qikiqtani Truth Commission” report which sets out a plan for a formal acknowledgement, apology and action on the recommendations outlined in the Qikiqtani Truth Commission. Specifically, QIA is seeking a three-fold commitment from Canada, to be negotiated and concluded as soon as possible.
• A formal acknowledgement and apology
• A Memorandum of Understanding to establish the Saimaqatigiingniq Fund
• Commencement of Inuit history and empowerment programs and initiatives

October 8, 2016

Fed. Govt., NU

Qikiqtani Truth Commission

The intergenerational trauma associated with the slaughter of sled dogs and the forced movement of Inuit from seasonal camps to permanent settlements still lingers in communities across Nunavut’s Baffin region. But the Inuit who endured long periods of poverty and separation from family members say they are ready to forgive. Nearly three years ago, the Qikiqtani Truth Commission published a final report on what Inuit experienced from 1950 to 1975, when Inuit were compelled to leave their seasonal camps and settle in communities when government policies aimed “to make the North more like the South and Inuit more like Southern Canadians. The federal government has been extremely slow in responding to the recommendations. (CBC)

April 1, 2014

Fed. Govt., NU

Qikiqtani Truth Commission

April, 2014 – Failure to implement recommendations or provide progress reports on implementation of the Qikiqtani Truth Commission. The Commission was charged to begin a broader truth and reconciliation process to promote healing for those who suffered historic wrongs, and heal relations between Inuit and governments by providing an opportunity for acknowledgement and forgiveness. Qikiqtani Inuit are seeking saimaqatigiingniq, which means a new relationship “when past opponents get back together, meet in the middle, and are at peace.”

October 26, 2021


Revisions to Ethics and Religious Culture course

The Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador – The Legault government is revising the Ethics and Religious Culture course, offered to secondary school students in the province, with the objective of giving its content a more “Quebec citizenship” focus. The project is part of the new nationalist ideology championed by Premier François Legault. The Premier’s initiative raises many concerns, including those of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL).

“What kind of message to young people can be expected by a provincial government that is determined to deny the deep roots of discrimination and racism that make it a systemic scourge? What other message can we expect from a provincial government that is determined not only to deny, but to fight in court the very existence of First Nations’ fundamental rights, including the right to self-determination, to govern themselves according to their rights, customs and traditions?

If we base ourselves on statements and actions that are taken by the Legault government on a daily basis, young Quebecers will be convinced that it is legitimate and fair to have built Quebec’s collective wealth on the backs of First Nations, by depriving them of their right to their territories and resources and that the rights of the “Quebec nation” in terms of culture, language and heritage are superior to those of other nations who share the territory and that this national supremacy is legitimate.

The AFNQL is very concerned that this initiative, with such strong nationalistic content put forward by the Legault government, will be taking us back years whereas, it could have been a step forward towards the Systemic Reconciliation that First Nations are proposing to Quebecers. There are other ways to build national pride,” says AFNQL Chief Ghislain Picard.

June 19, 2021

Fed. Govt., NU

Systemic Discrimination in Nunavut

Toronto Star – Mumilaaq Qaqqaq, MP for Nunavut criticized the federal government for its ongoing failure to address the worst living conditions in the country in the Inuit homeland:
• Highest suicide rates in the world
• Housing cots beyond the reach of Inuit
• Mouldy and overcrowded public housing
• Lack of clean water year-round
• Food insecurity and exorbitant food costs
“The structures of the federal institutions create huge barriers for any MP from Nunavut…the largest single-member electoral district in the world cannot be adequately served with an office budget that is less than some urban ridings in the south, where constituent outreach can happen by subway or streetcar instead of expensive flights.” Her biggest and loudest criticism is levelled at the federal politicians – liberal and conservative – whose rhetoric about “reconciliation” or “transformational change” never comes close to matching the reality of their actions that for the most part merely pay lip service.
“Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated (NTI), the Inuit organization that is officially mandated to represent our interests with the Crown, made a formal request for a $500-million emergency housing investment. Nunavut got a $25-million “down payment” for the territorial government to apply for more funding… Government members have told me over and over that they know action on housing is needed, but in two years they have done almost nothing to address the crisis. The Minister for Indigenous Services, Marc Miller, told me he hadn’t even bothered to read my report.
The frustration has led MP Qaqqaq to call on non-Indigenous Canadians to bombard their elected politicians “with emails, phone calls and meetings” to do something since “federal institutions certainly won’t”.

July 11, 2019

AB, BC, Fed. Govt., MB, NB, NL, NS, NT, NU, ON, PE, QC, SK, YT

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.

July 26, 2019

Fed. Govt., NT, NU, YT

Toward a Plan – Strengthening Canada’s Position in the Arctic

Failure to take a leadership role in positioning the Canadian arctic for success in a rapidly evolving arctic political landscape. “As the effects of climate change increase access to the Arctic, the global geopolitical context for the region is changing. With enormous untapped opportunities for shipping, research and resource development, many countries are looking to pursue their own national interests in the region, including economic and security interests.

Canada has no guarantee that the interests of these other state actors coincide with its own interests and priorities. Nor can we be certain that existing rules, agreements and international institutions are still up to the task of reconciling and settling competing interests in the Arctic space – in what is effectively Canada’s own backyard.” Toward a Plan – Strengthening Canada’s Position in the Arctic”.

Keynote Vision Address: Bob Mcleod

Premier Bob Mcleod of the Northwest Territories believes our national plan needs to be built on three elements:

  • leveraging the geographic advantage represented by the three territories
  • ramping up Canada’s northern presence, and
  • increasing Canada’s knowledge about the north.

He also thinks it is important that the residents of Canada’s three Northern territories, including its Indigenous residents… have a leading say in determining Canada’s plan for the Arctic. We are the ones who live there. We are the ones who are repeatedly affected when decisions are made for us, rather than with us. We are an obvious partner when discussions about what happens next take place.

Considering that the Canadian Arctic links across the Arctic Ocean to Russia, Finland, Norway, Iceland, Greenland and the United States, we should be the major player with the ability to decisively set the terms for the Arctic — but only if we make a concerted and deliberate effort to build on the advantages we already have in our three Northern territories.

July 9, 2019

AB, BC, Fed. Govt., MB, NB, NL, NS, NT, NU, ON, PE, QC, SK, YT

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.

December 15, 2020

AB, BC, Fed. Govt., MB, NB, NL, NS, NT, NU, ON, PE, QC, SK, YT

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.