CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY
I am pleased to join you today from the traditional uncharted territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabe Nation, who we recognize as the past, present and future stewards of the land.
It’s great to be back with you in person.
Thank you to the Senators, Regional Chief Archibald, Regional Chief, and all the leaders of the National Assembly for bringing me and the members of the government here to your meeting.
I also appreciated our conversation last week, when I had the opportunity to sit down with you and hear about your regional priorities.
There really is no substitute for companionship – for the connection we share when we talk to each other.
I hope that your meetings and discussions over the past few days have been fruitful.
I know many other ministers have spoken to you about the work the federal government is doing for First Nations across Turtle Island.
We are all here today to deliver for the people – to build the best possible future for Canada’s First Nations, and for the next seven generations.
We are doing a good job together. And facing a big challenge.
It takes time to operate at this size and scale, especially if we’re going to do it right.
The widespread and systemic problems produced by past colonialism cannot be changed overnight.
The full benefits will be felt during the coming years, but only if we do not quit our jobs.
We need to keep moving forward – together.
That’s why, from Day 1, it’s been our priority to work with you ‒ to be there, and to continue to make investments that fix historic wrongs, that create opportunities and support the decisions of really.
It implements reconciliation.
And for government to do it right, we need your constant support, wisdom and guidance.
For example, there is work ahead to ensure that First Nations communities are as safe and healthy as possible.
I had the honor of visiting the James Smith Cree Nation last week to sit with grieving families and affected community members.
There we talked about the need for better, culturally-based mental health and addiction support for those who need it – when they need it.
And most importantly, it talked about keeping indigenous communities safe and moving old colonial systems towards community-based safety and health projects.
I will keep these conversations close as we move forward with this great work.
We also know that your community needs additional investment.
Everyone in Canada deserves a safe and healthy place to raise and support their family.
Therefore, in the spring budget, we announced a significant investment to support dedicated housing.
This will help build and renovate thousands of homes.
We work with Indigenous partners to develop urban, rural and northern housing strategies.
And we continue our work with First Nations to jointly develop and deliver new water laws that meet your needs.
A safe, clean and healthy environment is important to everyone in Canada.
Many communities have shared teachings with me about your cultural and spiritual connection to nature.
These seas were fished long before the arrival of European ships.
You learned to hunt using the traditional knowledge passed down from the Elders over generations.
And you have long known the food and medicine that the earth provides.
Your respect and stewardship of the land is vital to our collective work to protect the environment, combat climate change, and halt and reverse biodiversity loss.
Just yesterday, I announced that the government is investing 800 million dollars in four major conservation areas led by indigenous people, which will preserve almost a million square kilometers of nature.
This not only protects plants, animals and marine life, but also ensures the protection of nature that absorbs and stores carbon.
We cannot protect or manage these protected areas without the participation of First Nations.
This investment is a major step forward for nature conservation across the country and will drive progress towards Canada’s ambitious goal of protecting 25 per cent of our land and water. by 2025, and 30 percent of each by 2030.
We support the vision of indigenous communities in this work.
And our work will create jobs.
We also work with the tougher and more difficult areas of reconciliation.
We still have a long way to go to know the healing process.
The news out of Winnipeg last week is heartbreaking: Four Aboriginal women are missing and possibly murdered.
These painful and repeated acts of violence against indigenous women cannot continue.
The government is committed to change.
We continue to work with partners to implement the Federal Way, our contribution to the National Plan of Action to Address the Threat of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
We know you have a tough job ahead of you as you continue to reveal the painful truth about what happened to your child at residential school.
This spring, we appointed a special counsel, Kimberly Murray, to help us navigate the legal and judicial complexities of this work.
And we’ll continue to make sure you have the resources you need to publish and commemorate your burial site.
I want to take a moment to acknowledge your courage in hosting the Papal Apology visit this summer, as part of the 58 Call to Action.
I attended the event in Maskwacîs.
I have seen firsthand how important it is for many, including non-native Canadians, to acknowledge and accept the painful truth of what happened to your child, family and community as a result. residential schools and the ongoing colonial policy.
Admittedly, the Pope’s apology would never have been possible without the courage, grace and advocacy of Survivors.
The government remains committed to fully implementing the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission which is a federal responsibility.
We strive to right the wrongs and injustices of the past, including illegal land grants.
In June, I traveled to the Siksika Nation where, after six decades of their existence, the government announced a partnership agreement that would provide significant financial compensation.
It will lead to the Nation’s vision of strong communities, economic development, job creation, and more.
Proceed to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
This law came into effect last June.
We will continue to work with you to ensure that the Declaration supports sustainable reconciliation, healing and collaboration between the federal government and First Nations ‒ and all Indigenous people ‒ across Canada.
We are also moving forward with investments. And work with partners at all levels.
We want to hear from you about how we can meet the needs of First Nations.
Whatever the challenge, it is important that we face it together.
I would like to underline the importance of continuing to find effective and meaningful ways of working together.
You’ve heard me say it before: There is no more important relationship with government than the relationship with Indigenous Peoples.
And we need to make sure we use the right tools to manage that relationship.
Six years ago, we announced the establishment of a permanent bilateral system.
It does not replace our relationships with other countries; it offers a forum where we can discuss priorities, develop policies and monitor our progress.
In the past, we’ve used it to make significant progress, including working with First Nations to develop partnerships. Indigenous Languages Actwhich received Royal Assent in 2019.
Historic legislation that will preserve and strengthen indigenous languages for future generations.
Just two weeks ago, the North West Territory MP, Michael McLeod, announced new investment to support indigenous languages in the North.
This work is possible, in part, because of the permanent bilateral system.
So let’s turn this device on again.
Let’s use it to ensure that national, regional and local priorities are identified.
And to make sure we deliver at every level.
Let’s work together on a partnership structure that allows us to meet your needs in all the areas I mentioned, and more – such as financial and economic development.
A two-tiered sustainability framework can be a tool to accomplish this. And do it well.
We can also use this approach to measure the impact of our investments on Earth and make sure we are doing the right thing.
Every community has different needs, and we want to know about them.
Everyone here can contribute to thinking about how we can make better use of the two-party system.
And please continue to work with Cabinet ministers as part of this work.
We can all be your partners in solving specific problems in your area.
You’ve heard me say the words “work” and “together” a lot in the past few minutes.
This is what it is: a working relationship.
Because there is work to be done.
We want to do this as efficiently as possible because we know how urgent the needs are in your community.
Let no one stop us.
When we face difficulties, let’s find new solutions.
Today’s First Nations ‒ and future generations ‒ depend on us to get, and do, that right.
Let’s build a solid foundation, built on respect, in our work together.
The federal government recognizes that this will take time, effort and resources.
And we’ll be there for you, every step of the way.
But we can’t do it alone.
It’s hard work.
But it’s a good job.
Work that strengthens the strength and resilience of First Nations communities.
Work that helps us heal.
Work to build a better future.
It is a work of cooperation, which advances us all on the path of reconciliation.