OTTAWA- Liberal Leader Bob Rae kicked off debate in the House of Commons today on his private member’s motion, M-386, which calls on the federal government to work with First Nations on a nation-to-nation basis to replace the Indian Act.
“First Nations have been very clear – we must shed the colonial institutions and frameworks that have characterized the Crown-First Nations relationship to date if we want to work together towards a new process,” said Mr. Rae. “This motion compels the federal government to work in partnership with First Nations to finally resolve the countless long-standing economic and social inequities that affect them.”
The motion, which receives its first hour of debate today, calls on the government to establish a formal nation-to-nation process between First Nations and the Crown to replace the Indian Act with new agreements that fulfill the Crown’s responsibilities to First Nations in a manner consistent with First Nations’ rights, the original Treaty relationships with First Nations upon which Canada was founded, the outstanding obligations and promises on behalf of the Crown to First Nations, and the standards established in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.
“As First Nations leaders across the country have stated, the Indian Act remains the most significant obstacle to progress for First Nations communities across Canada,” said Mr. Rae. “While the Conservative government has so far refused to engage in any substantive discussions on the issue, I hope they will take the opportunity that my motion provides to do so.”
Liberal Leader Bob Rae’s Private Member’s Motion, M-386, is as follows:
That, in the opinion of the House, the Indian Act is the embodiment of failed colonial and paternalistic policies which have denied First Nations their rights, fair share in resources, fostered mistrust and created systemic barriers to the self-determination and success of First Nations, and that elimination of these barriers requires the government to initiate a formal process of direct engagement with First Nations within 3 months of passage of this motion, on a nation-to-nation basis, which focuses on replacing the Indian Act with new agreements based on: a) the Constitutional, Treaty, and inherent rights of all First Nations; b) the historical and fiduciary responsibilities of the Crown to First Nations; c) the standards established in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including the principle of free, prior, and informed consent; d) respect, recognition, reconciliation and support for First Nations; e) partnership and mutual accountability between the Crown and First Nations; and f) stability and safety of First Nations; and that this process be completed within two years before reporting with a series of concrete deliverables for the government to act upon.