Empowering First Nations: Confidence, Respect & Trust
Canada’s First Nations have endured centuries of injustice. Deprived of their language and culture in campaigns of assimilation that have been justly termed cultural genocide, they endured sustained neglect and violations of the Crown’s Treaty obligations. For too long, many bands and nations simply had no opportunity to conclude Treaties. First Nations were relocated into communities which even today lack basic services and security; family structures were overturned by the residential school system which uprooted over 150,000 First Nations, Métis and Inuit students, resulting in a tragic legacy of sexual abuse and over 6,000 deaths. We need to heal all those touched by this shared history.
We have only taken the first steps towards reconciliation. Restoring confidence, respect and trust will require a new level of focus.
Canada’s First Nations are the principal original custodians of this land. They have a central role to play in building Canada’s future prosperity, in safeguarding our wilderness and waters, in deepening our sense of belonging as citizens.
Many First Nations are achieving remarkable success. Rates of education and employment are rising. Aboriginal entrepreneurs are making their mark across Canada. First Nations are increasingly at centre stage in debates about our country and its future.
Today over 100 tables are active in negotiations aimed at comprehensive land claims and self-government. Some First Nations have been waiting for Treaties for over four centuries. Some negotiations have been underway for over four decades. We need to complete the Treaty process together by concluding final agreements with all First Nations in the shortest possible timeframe.
Each First Nation and each band deserves access to: clean water, electricity and housing; education and health care; support for aboriginal languages and culture; self-government and economic opportunity.
This is a vast agenda. But it matters for every one of us. It’s part of building a New Canada.
Under my leadership a new Conservative government would:
(i) conclude all modern treaty negotiations with agreements-in-principle or final agreements by 2024;
(ii) fulfill the intent of existing treaties on the basis of mutual respect and act to resolve outstanding claims;
(iii) give special attention and support to the BC Treaty Commission, and to over sixty BC First Nations currently negotiating claims;
(iv) complete efforts to provide clean water and safe wastewater treatment to every aboriginal community;
(v) complete efforts to provide improved access to education, electricity, health care and housing in each First Nation community;
(vi) involve First Nations directly in planning for major resource and infrastructure projects and new governance models for Canada’s expanded protected areas;
(vii) finance new curriculum, education, printed and digital materials in aboriginal languages, celebrating First Nations culture, history, traditions and achievements;
(viii) implement the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women;
(ix) consult First Nations on strategies for improving economic opportunity on their reserved lands and traditional territories, as well as on ways they can ensure safety, security and accountability in their communities;
(x) provide additional support for mental health and counselling to prevent suicide and addiction on and off reserve;
(xi) increase support for First Nations members to thrive in urban environments, sharing their unique culture and identities with others, while accessing supports to participate fully in the economy;
(xii) consult First Nations to enrich the concept of Canada citizenship, making it fully inclusive, and to promote it together to all Canadians, including newcomers;
(xiii) enhance the direct role of First Nations, Métis and Inuit in national debate by establishing new permanent fora for continuous dialogue, partnership and accountability for results; and
(xiv) support the voice and culture of First Nations on the international stage.