I am the chair of the Indigenous caucus in Ottawa. In this role I help provide advice to the government on policy. If we could snap our fingers and fix all the wrongs we would, but we must still move forward. Spending on a year to year basis has gone from $11.5 Billion to $18.5 Billion. We are just getting started. Every area has been ignored for too long. There has been a major shift in government policy from the past to fix the 152 years of broken relationship. The former Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper is a good example of that broken and terrible relationship.
Conservative Premier Doug Ford in Ontario just cut the Indigenous services department by 27% in one year. Conservative Premier Brian Pallister broke agreements with the Manitoba Metis Nation. Imagine what Conservative leader Scheer would do. Let us not stop the path of reconciliation that we walk together.
What we have accomplished …
- Implementing all the 94 Truth & Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, including launching the National Inquiry into Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls.
- Announced funding of $13 million for MMIWG in Winnipeg to keep the memories of loved ones alive.
- Reached an Agreement-in-Principle to stop fighting survivors of the Sixties Scoop in the Court system. (Working together to right past wrongs)
- 2017 – The Prime Minister apologized to former survivors & students of Indian Residential schools in Newfoundland & Labrador.
- 2018 – The Prime Minister apologizes and exonerates six
Tsilhqot’in chiefs invited by colonial officials for peace talks more than 150 years ago only to be arrested, tried and hanged.
- 2019 – The Prime Minister apologized to the Cree community of Pound maker for the breaking of treaty.
- 2019 – The Prime Minister apologized to the Inuit for their treatment in federal hospitals.
- Lifted 87 out of 143 Long-Term Drinking Water Advisories on public systems to ensure that Indigenous communities have reliable access to clean & safe drinking water. We will get it done.
- Passed Federal Child Welfare Reform legislation (C-92) which will give full control over CFS to Indigenous peoples. Indigenous laws will supersede federal and provincial laws.
I had been working on the historic Child & Family Welfare Law since elected in 2015. The legislation, Bill C-92, would ensure that Indigenous governments laws have more power than other levels of government including provincial and federal. Now the Federal Child Welfare Reform legislation (C-92) has passed and will come into force in its entirety on January 1, 2020!
For over 20 years in Manitoba, NDP and Conservatives Provincial governments took more children into the child welfare system than at any point during the height of the Indian Residential School era. Many representatives were quiet about this and never advocated to make any changes. When you elected me in 2015, you demanded that this change. After years of work, I was able to get the federal Liberal government to pass legislation in 2019 that will give control of the CFS system to Indigenous nations. This is GROUND BREAKING.
11, 000 children in care in Manitoba, new borns taken everyday. 87% of those were taken just because of the issues related of poverty. This system cannot continue. Now the task for the next four years is to ensure that Indigenous Nations have jurisdiction and more importantly we keep families together and functional & with funding to make this work.
The federal government has stepped in because of the inability of provincial governments to deal in a good way with Indigenous peoples. We are all impacted when children are taken. We know that 50% of the homeless in Winnipeg were in CFS. If we invest in our children we can make a difference to the future of our nations and communities. I would also like thank the families who are foster families and helping care for children. These families are offering their love, care and protection to children, and they need to be recognized for their efforts.
- Passed the first Indigenous Languages Act (C-91) to help preserve, revitalize Indigenous languages across Canada. Providing new funding to promote & preserve Indigenous languages & cultures going from $5 million (under Harper) to $88 million and eventually $118 million in 2021.
- Gave the historic 1st entire speech in an Indigenous language (Cree) in the House of Commons on May 4th 2017 about violence and MMIWG.
- Gave the 1st Indigenous translated speech in the House of Commons from Cree into French & English on January 28th 2019.
- Helping make House history: meet Cree translator Kevin Lewis
- Indigenous Winnipeg MP delivers speech in Cree in House of Commons
- ‘This is something I’ve been fighting for now for two years almost,’ Indigenous language interpretation in the House important symbol for youth, says Liberal MP Ouellette
- Built 1,610 homes, with 2,180 under construction, in 362 Indigenous communities, serving 382,000 people, which will greatly reduce overcrowding & give families a safe place to call home.
- Building & improving schools with 140 projects underway or completed since March 2016 & the construction of four new schools for First Nations youth.
- Tripled funding & ensured ongoing funding for the First Nations Policing Program that will respectively engage with Indigenous communities to offer professional, dedicated & responsive support to more than 450 Indigenous communities in Canada.
- Helping Indigenous people, particularly youth & those with disabilities, upgrade their skills, get jobs, & access child care through increased funding to the Aboriginal Skills & Employment Training Strategy (ASETS) & the Skills & Partnership Fund in partnership with organization like the Neeginan Centre & the Aboriginal Centre on Higgins in Winnipeg Centre. Just for Winnipeg it is $71 million in new funding.
In 2016, I met and started to work with Senator Lillian Dyck. Lillian is a First Nation woman and had just proposed a new law S-215 which would help protect Indigenous women if they were victims of violent crime. If someone committed a serious crime against Indigenous women, this would be an aggravating factor in sentencing. We know that Indigenous women are victims of violent crime more than any other population in Canada, hence the study being done by the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women’s Inquiry.
Lillian and I started working together. We met with Members of Parliament including the Indigenous Caucus and the Women’s Caucus. I was unable to convince the Conservative Party of the value of this law. Thus it became impossible to win the vote in the Parliament. Even though the vote was lost and the bill defeated in April 2019, this law helped make people uncomfortable and question what is society actually doing. I still look forward to continue to advocating in public and speaking behind the doors of power with the decision makers of Canada to share our collective passion to protect all citizens.
When the door is closed, no one can hide, and that is the power of being a vocal MP.