By Joey Krackle
OTTAWA — The Governor General of Canada read the Trudeau government’s first throne speech on December 4, 2015.
For the first time in history, a First Nation drummer, David Charette of Wikwemikong sang an honour song to begin the Throne Speech ceremony.
The throne speech highlighted the increased role the Government of Canada will play with First Nations.
“Because it is the right thing to do and a certain path to economic growth, the Government will undertake to renew ; nation-to-nation, the relationship between Canada and Indigenous peoples, one based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership,” read the speech.
Among other measures, the Government will work co-operatively to implement recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, will launch and inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, and work with First Nations so that every First Nations child receives a quality education.
National Chief Perry Bellegarde was very positive about this throne speech heralding an improved relationship between Canada and First Nations.
“A Nation-to- Nation relationship is key,” said the National Chief. “We need our rights to be recognized and we need the Closing of the Gap so that we can have an improved quality of life. There have to be very strategic investments in order to develop an Action Plan to address First Nation housing, clean & potable water, transportation concerns, and our health, our health, education and wellness.”
The speech further emphasized the importance of sustainable development when it stated that “a clean environment and a strong economy go hand in hand. We cannot have one without the other.” The speech further states that First Nations will have an important role in monitoring and reviewing resource development. “And Indigenous peoples will be more fully engaged in reviewing and monitoring major resource development projects.”
The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs (INAC) stated the following after the throne speech ceremony: “We will immediately begin to implement all the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Recommendations. We will begin meetings with the provinces and territories. The Prime Minister will meet with the national indigenous organizations next week and after the release of the final Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report on December 15, 2015. A significant announcement about the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Inquiry will be made next week. The MMIW inquiry will be very far ranging and will consult with the families and national indigenous organizations for the development of its Terms of Reference.”
She concluded by stating that this government recognizes the rights of First Nations and will work with respect in partnership and cooperation with Indigenous Canadians.
“The inquiry is a high priority and we want to get it right,” said Minister Bennett.