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Government Commitments to Truth and Reconciliation

With future of Bill C-53 in doubt, Métis Nation of Ontario exploring all options

April 25, 2024

APTN News: The president of the Métis Nation of Ontario says the organization will continue to pursue self-government legislation regardless of what happens with Bill C-53.

“In fact, there is a commitment to reintroducing a bill identical to Bill C-53 if it ultimately doesn’t pass,” Margaret Froh said. “We have the same option to pursue the course the Métis Nation-Saskatchewan has chosen. Right now, we totally respect their decision to focus on advancing that modern treaty and seeking legislation when they’re ready to do so. We want to see, as does the Métis Nation of Alberta, Bill C-53 through the process and if Bill C-53 does not advance then we will be coming back.”

The embattled federal government legislation was a dealt another serious blow last week after the Métis Nation-Saskatchewan, or MN-S, announced it’s withdrawing support.

This leaves just the MNO and Métis Nation of Alberta standing behind the legislation that formally recognizes Métis governments in Ontario and Alberta.

Since being introduced by the Trudeau government last year, Bill C-53 has been embroiled in controversy with both First Nations in Ontario and the Manitoba Métis Federation lobbying hard against because they say the MNO is not a legitimate Métis organization.

Emergency room issues

A new study finds First Nations people in Alberta are far more likely to leave hospital emergency waiting rooms without receiving treatment than non-First Nations due to systemic racism.

“First Nations co-authors in this study have talked about the need to have Indigenous-led services in Indigenous spaces so patients may feel more safe in Indigenous facilities,” Patrick McLane, an adjunct associate professor in the department of emergency medicine at the University of Alberta and one of the report’s co-authors, said. “Non-Indigenous people in the health care system need to be listening to First Nations leaders and health directors who know what’s happening for their members and could direct improvements.”

The study appears in the latest issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal and aside from McLane, its co-authors include Bonnie Healy and Lea Bill.

Healy is a registered nurse from the Kainai Nation who serves as the health director of the Blackfoot Confederacy Tribal Council and Bill is also a nurse from the Pelican Lake First Nation who serves as the executive director of the Alberta First Nations Information Governance Centre.

In a previous study, seven per cent of First Nations people reported leaving emergency waiting rooms without completing treatment while the number for non-First Nations was about four per cent.

Participants in the current study stated racist stereotyping and provider assumption of substance abuse as some of the reasons for leaving early.

 RCMP and accountability

Hill Times columnist Rose LeMay says it is time Canada demanded more civilian oversight and accountability out of police forces like the RCMP.

“After the alleged crime committed by an officer, a commission might come in and ask for more detail,” she said. “In the RCMP’s case they (Civilian Review and Complaints Commission) ask the RCMP for more detail to do a self-investigation. That seems to be completely evading responsibility. So, I am not surprised that the commission for the RCMP has never laid charges. They don’t have the legislative authority to do so.”

In her latest column, LeMay writes about a new report out of Yellowknife which finds Indigenous women experiencing homelessness in this city simply do not trust the Mounties.

Aside from giving the CRCC more teeth, LeMay says the RCMP needs to give its officers better training that includes cultural awareness and recruit more Indigenous candidates.

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