Source: The Canadian Press
Nov 28, 2018
HALIFAX _ A key federal official says Ottawa is committed to advancing the Mi’kmaw Nation, and getting Indigenous Peoples “out from under the Indian Act.”
Marc Miller, the parliamentary secretary to the federal Crown-Indigenous Relations minister, told a First Nations self-governance summit in Halifax that the paternalistic constraints of the Indian Act lead directly to dependency, isolation and indignities.
He says those mistakes must not be repeated as the federal government works with Indigenous Peoples on treaty implementation, recognition of inherent rights and nation building.
Miller says he recognizes that there is no pan-Indigenous approach to reconciliation, and that Ottawa will listen to the priorities of Indigenous Peoples in the Atlantic region and support the advancement of the Mi’kmaw Nation.
First Nations leaders from across Canada are gathered at the Halifax Convention Centre today for the second day of a regional summit on self-governance, with a focus on finding a pathway to nationhood for Indigenous Peoples in the Atlantic region known as Mi’kma’ki.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau launched a national engagement process with Indigenous Peoples earlier this year, proposing a new legislative framework designed to pave the way towards stronger rights and greater control over their own destiny.
“We need to both recognize and implement Indigenous rights,” Trudeau said last February in a speech in the House of Commons.
Miller says Ottawa has held over 100 engagement sessions with more than 1,700 Indigenous rights-holders.
“Your insights are essential if we truly want to reset the relationship between the federal government and Indigenous Peoples,” he said.
He acknowledged that the Assembly of First Nations has shared concerns about the timeline and the engagement activities, and says the federal government will work on addressing those concerns.
“It comes back to a recognition of your inherent rights to self-govern,” Miller told hundreds of delegates at the summit.
“Self-determination isn’t about giving government to Indigenous groups. It’s about recognizing Indigenous governments and the rights that already exist, and have existed since time immemorial.”
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