Tuesday, June 19, 2018


The House met at 10 a.m.

Madam Speaker: O Eternal and Almighty God, from Whom all power and wisdom come, we are assembled here before Thee to frame such laws as may tend to the welfare and prosperity of our province. Grant, O merciful God, we pray Thee, that we may desire only that which is in accordance with Thy will, that we may seek it with wisdom and know it with certainty and accomplish it perfectly for the glory and honour of Thy name and for the welfare of all our people. Amen.

      Please be seated. Good morning, everybody.



Mr. Andrew Micklefield (Acting Government House Leader): Good morning, Madam Speaker. I'm wondering if you could canvass the House to see if there's leave to debate Bill 201, The Manitoba Conservation Officers Recognition Day Act.

Madam Speaker: Is there leave of the House to debate second reading of Bill 201, the Manitoba conservation officers day recognition act?

Some Honourable Members: Agreed.

An Honourable Member: No.

Madam Speaker: Leave has been granted–

An Honourable Member: No.

Madam Speaker: Oh, I hear a no. Leave has been denied.

      Is it the intent, then, to debate Bill 203, The Insurance Amendment Act?     

An Honourable Member: Sure.

Some Honourable Members: No.

Madam Speaker: Is it the intent, then, to debate Bill 204, The Electoral Divisions Amendment Act?

Some Honourable Members: Yes.

Some Honourable Members: No.

Madam Speaker: Is it the intent, then, to debate Bill 206, The Brookside Cemetery Recognition Act?

An Honourable Member: Of course.

Some Honourable Members: No.

Madam Speaker: Is it the intent, then, to debate Bill 207, The Legal Profession Amendment Act (Queen's Counsel Appointments)?

Some Honourable Members: No. [interjection]

Madam Speaker: Order, please, from the member.

      Is it the intent to debate Bill 209, The Gift of Life Act (Human Tissue Gift Act Amended)?

An Honourable Member: Yes.

Some Honourable Members: No.

Madam Speaker: Leave has been denied on all of the above so far.

      Is it the intent, then, to debate number–Bill 210, the Manitoba Public Insurance Corporation act amendment?

An Honourable Member: Yes.

Some Honourable Members: No.

Madam Speaker: Leave has been denied.

      Is it the intent to debate Bill 214, The Workplace Safety and Health Amendment Act?

Some Honourable Members: No.

Madam Speaker: Leave has been denied.

      Is it the intent to debate Bill 215, The Election Financing Amendment Act?

Some Honourable Members: Yes.

Some Honourable Members: No.

Madam Speaker: Leave has been denied.

      Is it the intent, then, to debate Bill 216, The Human Rights Code Amendment Act?

Some Honourable Members: No.

Madam Speaker: Leave has been denied.

      Is it the intent, then, to debate Bill 227, The Animal Care Amendment Act (Dog Breeding and Exotic Animals)?

Some Honourable Members: Yes.

Some Honourable Members: No.

Madam Speaker: Leave has been denied.

      Is it the intent, then, to debate Bill 230, The Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Awareness Day Act?

Some Honourable Members: No.

Madam Speaker: Leave has been denied.

      Is it the intent, then, to debate Bill 231, The Municipal Harassment Policy Act (Various Acts Amended)?

Some Honourable Members: No.

Madam Speaker: Leave has been denied.

      Is it the intent, then, to debate Bill 222, The Residential Tenancies Amendment Act (Protecting Tenants from Rising Utility Costs)?

Some Honourable Members: Yes.

Some Honourable Members: No.

Madam Speaker: Leave has been denied.

      Is it the intent, then, to debate Bill 200, The Planning Amendment Act?

Some Honourable Members: No.

Madam Speaker: Leave has been denied.

      Is it the intent, then, to debate Bill 223, The Child and Family Services Amendment Act?

Some Honourable Members: No.

Madam Speaker: Leave has been denied.

      Is it the intent, then, to debate Bill 228, The Animal Shelter and Rescue Awareness Day Act?

Some Honourable Members: Yes.

Some Honourable Members: No.

Madam Speaker: Leave has been denied.

      Is it the intent, then, to debate Bill 225, The Human Rights Code Amendment Act?

An Honourable Member: Agreed.

Some Honourable Members: No.

Madam Speaker: Leave has been denied.

      Seeing as there–oh, the honourable member for Rossmere (Mr. Micklefield).

Mr. Micklefield: Madam Speaker, I'm wondering if  you could canvass the House to see if there is agreement to call it 11 o'clock.

Madam Speaker: Is there leave to call it 11 o'clock?

Some Honourable Members: Agreed.

An Honourable Member: No.

Madam Speaker: I would point out to the member that as there is no business, there is no other opportunity for us–there is no business on the table, so we have to move to 11 o'clock, or we can recess 'til 11 o'clock. Those are the only two options.

      So what is the will of the House? Do you wish to call it 11 o'clock?

Some Honourable Members: Yes.

An Honourable Member: No.

Madam Speaker: Leave has been denied on that. We then move to calling it 11 o'clock–or we move to taking a recess 'til 11 o'clock.

The House recessed at 10:07 a.m.


The House resumed at 11:00 a.m.

Madam Speaker: I will start over again so that Hansard could hear, and I apologize to them for that. So it is 11 o'clock and the time for private member's resolution.

Debate on Resolutions

Res. 16–Celebrating National Indigenous Peoples Day

Madam Speaker: The resolution before us this morning is the resolution on Celebrating National Indigenous Peoples Day brought forward by the honourable member for St. Vital (Mrs. Mayer), standing in the name of the honourable member for River Heights, who has two minutes remaining.

Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): I just wanted to emphasize the importance of this resolution and of passing this resolution. I've already been spoken–speaking on this resolution, and I don't have further to add at this point except to urge everyone to support it.

Ms. Nahanni Fontaine (Official Opposition House Leader): Madam Speaker, would you canvass the House to see if there's leave to amend the private member's resolution No. 16 by adding the following at the end of the therefore be it resolved clause: and by urging the provincial government to declare national indigenous day a statutory holiday in Manitoba beginning this year?

Madam Speaker: Is there leave of the House to amend resolution No. 16 by adding the following at the end of the therefore be it resolved clause: and by urging the provincial government to declare national indigenous day a statutory holiday in Manitoba beginning this year?

An Honourable Member: Agreed.

Some Honourable Members: No.

Madam Speaker: Leave has been denied.

Mrs. Bernadette Smith (Point Douglas): It gives me great pleasure to rise in the House today as a proud indigenous woman who didn't always grow up  knowing who she was as an indigenous person. So this–you know, to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day, you know, which we've been cele­brating for a number of years across Canada–the federal government brought it forward. And, you know, every year–there was just an article in the paper today that Niigaan Sinclair wrote that talked  about the very things that are happening here  in Manitoba to celebrate and to uplift and to acknowledge all of the contributions that indigenous people have made in creating Manitoba, in creating Winnipeg and in creating Canada.

      So to, you know, to further his comments about–it's time. We're in a day of reconciliation, and reconciliation means action. It's not just a word that's thrown around, as we often see people talk about reconciliation, but that–what does that really mean?

      In the member from St. Vital's question that I asked her, in her response to what is the government currently doing to support and address missing and murdered indigenous women here in Winnipeg, in Manitoba, the member had said that it was important, that it's something that we should be paying attention to. So I just want to speak a little bit about that.

      Since, you know, taking government, the special adviser to women's issues has been totally wiped out. There's no resources or supports for families who are experiencing someone going missing or being murdered. And I think that's part of celebrating and uplifting indigenous people here in Canada and here, especially, in Manitoba, that we are making sure that we are supporting the families that need, you know, that support, for someone to advocate. Prevention is  certainly something that our government was working on, on this side of the House, in terms of helping families have a voice. But also, you know, I wouldn't be in this very House if I didn't have someone who was helping to advocate for me.    

      And I hear the other side often say, you know, the member from St. Johns did nothing in her role. Well, I just want to point out that she has done a lot in her role, and me being in this very House she contributed to. So I just want to send her love and tell her how much our families love her and how much, you know, we continue to support her. And that role, just because she is not special adviser anymore doesn't mean that that hasn't continued; she still supports families, as many of us do on this side of the House.

      So when we're talking about celebrating and uplifting, that is certainly something I urge this government to look at in terms of making sure that families are receiving the supports that they need because they also did talk about the national inquiry. National inquiry did come to Winnipeg, did come to  a number of communities in Manitoba, and what  was left was families in trauma. They shared their stories. There was no after care; there was no  support. And,  certainly, we, you know, lobbied the federal government to do that, but I also feel that  our provincial government has a role in that as  well, because these are Manitoba families, and where they didn't pick up, I feel like our province should have picked up and certainly provided some support to those families.

      As we know, there's many families throughout Manitoba who have not only one missing or murdered loved one, but several.

Mr. Doyle Piwniuk, Deputy Speaker, in the Chair

      Certainly, in my family alone, there's been four. Helen Betty Osborne was the first one, and that was, you know, the start of a conversation about, you know, the atrocities that indigenous women face in this country and certainly here in Manitoba in terms of the silence and the secrecy and, you know, the level of supports and resources that families lack.

      And then there is Felicia Solomon Osborne. Her mother was given a piece of her arm and a piece of her leg. She was found in the Red River, steps away from where Tina Fontaine was found. And then Felicia Solomon Osborne, she was found on the Perimeter and 59, murdered; her case has never been solved, as Felicia Solomon Osborne's hasn't. And then, of course, my sister, you know, who went missing 10 years ago this July, so I just want to urge this government to, you know, think about doing something around that file and supporting families in putting some resources to ensure that there's prevention and that families aren't experiencing multiple loved ones going missing because, certainly, our family isn't the only family that has more than one loved one missing.

      And I certainly want to uplift and congratulate the member from St. Vital for bringing this resolution forward and that she's, you know, starting to celebrate who she is as an indigenous woman here in Manitoba. It's certainly something–as a young girl growing up in the North End of the city, we grew up not with a lot of racism; there was a lot of Polish people; there was a lot of Ukrainian people; and there was a lot of Jewish people; and there was a lot of indigenous people, growing up in the North End. And we all played together. We all supported one another, and we never saw a difference.

      So we're certainly in a place where, you know, we see racism every day. We see discrimination every day and that, you know, we need to help the next generation to be proud of who they are as indigenous people and make sure that they have the resources and the supports that they need to be contributing members to this country.

      We just saw the report come out on child poverty, and, you know, Kewatinook, my–was the No. 1, and central Winnipeg was No. 3. That's certainly right here in Manitoba. And that's another place that we need to do a lot of work around in terms of, you know, celebrating because we can't really celebrate when we have people who can't contribute as Canadians, as Manitobans, as Winnipeggers and that aren't given the same opportunity as others.

* (11:10)

      I certainly get out every National Aboriginal Day. I was fortunate enough to celebrate in Ottawa one year, where it was a mass celebration and there was, like, thousands of people out, not just on Parliament Hill, but all over Ottawa, you know, celebrating, waving flags, and really celebrating indigenous people. People that weren't indigenous were out.

      And I think that, you know, as legislators, we need to do some work around education as well within our education system. Being an educator myself, we took it upon ourself in the Seven Oaks School Division to create an Aboriginal education group and, you know, other schools started to do that work as well.

      And we started to really look at not just the kids in our school and educating them around indigenous education but also, you know, the parents and bringing the parents into that and really helping them to understand the contributions that indigenous people have made.

      Because often, when people come to Canada, they are told a different story before they even come here. And I know this for a fact because I worked with many teachers who have shared this with me–from different ethnicities–that have said, you know, before I came to Canada, I was told to stay away from indigenous people, I was told that they were violent people. All these stereotypical images they were told. And certainly, when they got here, when they saw an indigenous person, they were scared of them. They were told to stay away from Main Street, you know, all these places.

      So certainly, when you have kids coming to you and saying, I can't play with him because he's indigenous or he's Aboriginal, that certainly puts up, you know, flags for us as educators because, you know, this country is founded on indigenous people, and we need to make sure that every person that's coming to Canada understands the relationship and the responsibility–the responsibility in the treaties that it was a sharing and a caring and not this place we call Canada right now where it's more about consumerism and, you know, making sure that I have what I need but not worrying about anybody else.

      And certainly, in the indigenous community, that's not something that indigenous communities follow. We're not a hierarchal system. Indigenous communities follow this: I am, you know, one of many community members. And we certainly need to open that circle up, and to truly celebrate National Aboriginal Day–

Mr. Deputy Speaker: The honourable member's time is expired.

Mr. Andrew Swan (Minto): I'm pleased to stand up and speak today about a resolution to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day, which is something that my colleagues in the New Democratic Party already do and I'm hoping that members of the government caucus do as well.

      Of course, National Indigenous Peoples Day is on June 21st, which is a very special day. As you know, Mr. Deputy Speaker, it is the summer solstice. It is the longest day of the entire year, which is a day that has great significance for indigenous people and has for hundreds, even thousands of years. When my ancestors probably hadn't even figured out the seasons, there was already a culture that appreciated and understood these things.

      And each of us, I believe, has the opportunity to celebrate national indigenous day in a different way. And I will tell you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, one of my favourite celebrations of national indigenous day is right in the West End at General Wolfe School. General Wolfe School is a junior high school in the very, very diverse West End and there has always been a very, very strong indigenous tradition within that school.

      And whether the students are indigenous or whether they are new Canadians or whether they are from families that have been in Canada for a few generations, everybody in the school embraces that event. And I know the member for St. Johns (Ms. Fontaine) came last year as an honoured guest, and they're always happy to have the member for St.  Johns and I'm always–I always welcome the member for St. Johns to the West End. It is a very, very special and very meaningful event.

      And I believe that that's one of the best places to start to make all Canadians, whatever their background may be, whatever their personal life history may be, whatever their culture may be, to truly appreciate indigenous people, who were the first people in this country, who welcomed all of the rest of us to come to this place.

      You know, I've been actually doing a bit of research lately and speaking to some of the bills and I've given some thought to different things legislators can do to really open our minds and understand what the struggle for indigenous people to be heard, to be given space, can be. And I want to recommend, Mr.  Deputy Speaker, to every member of this House, it's actually a National Film Board documentary that was done in 1987 and it covered the Aboriginal constitutional conferences which happened in 1983 and 1985. It's a film called Dancing Around the Table, and I remember watching this documentary when I was in law school and having that documentary truly open up my eyes, my privileged, white, suburban, male eyes, to the way that our political leaders had been treating indigenous people and, unfortunately, in some cases, still do.

      And if you ever have a chance to watch the documentary, which I was very happy to see is readily available online–in fact, if people need something to do on a nice summer weekend, they can go and download the film and watch it. And there were a few moments in that film which were incredibly–I guess they could provide the rest of us with epiphanies on how this relationship has gone.

      And there's one moment in particular. Pierre Trudeau was still the prime minister of Canada in 1993 and as the prime minister he was chairing the meeting, and the first day was a very momentous day. They had invited indigenous leaders from across the country to come and to sit at the table, much as territorial and provincial ministers or premiers had–have done since this country was created, and it was the first time that indigenous people had been invited to have a space at the table.

      But what happened next was perhaps one of the moments that really crystallized for me how much work was yet to be done. Right at the start of the day, one of the indigenous leaders said: Mr. Prime Minister, it is our tradition in our people to start the day, when we're going to have serious discussions, to begin with a prayer.

      And Prime Minister Trudeau said: All right, then. Let's have a prayer. Everybody can have a prayer.

      And he stood up and he bowed his head and he said the Lord's Prayer. Well, what message did that send to our indigenous people? And, unfortunately, as you watch the documentary, it only got worse from there.

      There were a few allies and a few premiers who attempted to move forward, including our own Howard Pawley, who, interesting enough, at the end of the last conference, said, well, I know everyone just wants to end this process and leave, but I think we should just adjourn this process. This isn't over yet. There's more work to be done. He was outnumbered by the prime minister and every other provincial premier, but Howard Pawley was one of the people who tried to move the goalpost.

      And there were premiers with very, very different points of view. Two of the most outspoken premiers who were opposed to any movement forward were Brian Peckford from Newfoundland and Labrador, and Bill Bennett, who was then the premier of British Columbia, and I can't remember which of the two premiers it was. I'm going to have to watch this documentary again. At one point he was very, very frustrated when indigenous people were saying they had their right to self-determination and their right to make their own choices about things such as education and health care and child welfare.

      And one of these two premiers, and I honestly cannot remember who it was–maybe I'll rise on a point of order later and straighten it out–said: Well, I don't understand this. The way I see it, there was a bunch of power and a bunch of powers went to the federal government under section 91, and everything else went to the provinces under section 92. I just don't see there's any other sovereignty to give out to anybody else.

      And that was his message to indigenous people, and his message to the people of Canada at that time.

      And I say all of this today, Mr. Deputy Speaker, just to make it clear that words do matter. And they matter whether it's somebody riding a bus in the morning or somebody in their shift at work; it matters even more when we have the privilege of being elected to office, whether it's as an individual member of this House or the premier of the province, words truly matter.

* (11:20)

      And that's why I think it's important once again to remind people that although the resolution says that this provincial government is committed to cultivating a relationship with mutual respect and reconciliation with First Nations, Inuit and Metis people, we've had a Premier (Mr. Pallister) that has done the exact opposite.

      And when the issue of night hunting came up–and, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I know how important this issue is in all communities, but perhaps yours more than many others–it was highly unfortunate that the Premier, maybe more in the spirit of a Brian Peckford or a Bill Bennett, decided that instead of acknowledging the importance of the issue and the importance of consultation and the importance of recognizing rights that cannot simply be wished out of existence by the powers that be, he chose to put very, very harmful and damaging words on the record.

      And, you know, this morning, I'm not even going to repeat what the Premier said. The Premier knows what he said. Every member of this House knows what he said. And that's what has set back relations with our indigenous people in Manitoba, among other things.

      Our NDP team is committed to continuing to work to repair Canada's relationship with indigenous peoples. And let me just say, that's something this current government does not seem as committed to  do. And we know that past policies that have been  rooted in racism–and if not racism, in many cases,  simple ignorance, a lack of understanding of cultures–has resulted in the loss of many indigenous traditions, cultures and languages. And we're now seeing that flourish once again, and it's a great thing to see, but just as flowers spring forth in the spring, it is a delicate thing. And if we're not careful, and if we simple trample through that garden, we are not going to get to where we need to be.

      So for all of those reasons, I think it is important that every member of this House decide how we are  going to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day.  My colleagues and I do celebrate it. We will each do  different things. I'm hoping to be over at General  Wolfe School, although this House is sitting at 10 o'clock on Thursday morning, which was a surprise with the phony emergency session, but there are many other ways that people can be involved. In fact, just–I believe it was today in the Free Press, or  maybe it was yesterday, Niigaan Sinclair had a  great  article telling Winnipeggers, suggesting to  Winnipeggers and Manitobans, different things they  could do perhaps to challenge their own view of the world and to challenge some of their own assumptions and to challenge their own background and truly move forward to try to open their minds and open their hearts to learn more about the reality, the truth, of indigenous people in Manitoba and in Canada.

      So, I thank you for the opportunity–

Mr. Deputy Speaker: The honourable member's time has expired.

Mr. Len Isleifson (Brandon East): It's certainly always a pleasure to rise and peat a–put a few words on record, and this morning, you know, talking about the member from St. Vital's resolution, celebrating national indigenous day, is important to all of us. I know the member from Minto had said some good words on how we can move forward and celebrate in the different ways that we do. And, you know, he said his party was moving forward on supporting. And I will say that it is our–it's well-known fact that our government as well is investing in priorities that support indigenous peoples across Manitoba.

      Our government has undertaken and is undertaking further consultations with communities to streamline The Northern Affairs Act that not only reduces red tape but creates more opportunity for sustainability. Moving forward with our government and the work they do, whether it be in Northern Relations or through Municipal Relations, we are getting the work done. And it's a pleasure to follow something that is well needed, because we all know–it looks like we have unanimous support in the House, which is good.

      It's something that shows, that regardless of issues that we deal with on a regular basis, that we can work together. And here's an opportunity that we can move forward in something that is important to help us do one thing that is a common goal across this country, and that's to end racism.

      I want to just share some of my own personal dialogue, Mr. Deputy Speaker, of my involvement in the indigenous community and in the education I'm receiving and have received in growing up and even continuing to this day.

      It reminds me of my first experience in a grand entry. I was 17, maybe 18 years old, and I had just been hired for a new job. I did two days of training, and on my third day they asked me to go to the Keystone Centre in Brandon and man a trade booth at an event that was being held by the indigenous community.

      Little did I know that when we got there that we were not just hosting a trade booth, but the company I was working for at the time was a major sponsor. So I had a lovely lady come up to me dressed in the fanciest outfit that I've ever seen and asked me to join her down on the floor of the Keystone Centre. And it happened to turn out to be–it was–they call it the queen of the event.

      And so, myself, along with about 400 dancers and drummers, were paraded out onto the floor in a grand entry, and it was one of the coolest things that I can remember. It opened my eyes. It was exciting. It was a different culture. But then they sprung one on me where I had to go up on the stage and bring greetings to over 4,000 people that were watching and participating.

      And, again, keep in mind I'm a 17 or 18‑year‑old, it's my first opportunity to stand in front of that many people and bring greetings. But, again, since then, you know, it has certainly provided me with an opportunity to be educated.

      I think that's one of the biggest things we have is the ignorance that we hold amongst ourselves when we don't look outside our own circle, and I've been very fortunate recently in my role in helping move along the Brandon Bear Clan, for example, and getting to understand, you know, what they do. I've now been involved and participated in my first pipe ceremony. I've been involved in my first sharing circle.

      And I know, hopefully, over the summer, into the fall, I will have an opportunity to uphold an invitation I've received to attend a sweat lodge. And, again, the idea for me personally is to get a better understanding of what is happening, not just in my circle, but in the entire indigenous community.

      We're very fortunate. Our government is moving forward with reforming the Manitoba child-welfare system in a way that respects indigenous 'soventary,' and it's certainly mindful of the legacies of residential schools and the '60s scoop. It's part of a healing process, and I know the member from Point Douglas, you know, talked about moving forward and bringing things together and working closer together, and that's something that we can all do. We certainly have that ability with words, but we also have the ability to do so with actions.

      In particular, when we talk about the national people–indigenous peoples day, I do want to say that I've been very fortunate to attend a number of their celebrations in my constituency of Brandon East over the past number of years. And, again, it's–well, the day is set aside to honour indigenous peoples and their contributions throughout Canada, I am the one who is honoured to be able to attend and bring greetings on both behalf of the City of Brandon at the time and now on behalf of the Province of Manitoba. And, again, I wish them all the best in their event this coming Thursday on the 21st.

      I do hope no police officers are listening, but I hope to get in my car when we're done that day and head back to Brandon as quickly as possible so that I can attend some of their events. I know it does start at noon at the Discovery Centre.

      There is an opening celebration or ceremony at 5  o'clock at the Discovery Centre, and, again, it certainly would be an opportunity for everybody to join their local ones. The member from Minto asked–you know, mentioned how he's certainly going to be celebrating the day and some of the opportunities, and I know, just in Brandon, and I certainly want to point out that, you know, as of noon, they are going to go until the–'til dark, and they are going to start with a cleansing-of-the-ground ceremony, teepee teachings, children's games, crafts, cultural displays, square dancing and a talent show.

* (11:30)

      So there's certainly an opportunity to–for everybody to come out. My colleagues, if you're around Brandon on Thursday evening, come on out, or, again, in your own areas, please make sure you go out and help celebrate and recognize the efforts.

      Again, we have the opportunity to–just last year, you know, in the grand entry for national peoples day, you know, where they had the horses out and walking around.

      And, you know, you just got to make sure that if you're the one following the horses that you watch where you step instead of watching where you're going. That was good evidence that was heeded last year. Unfortunately, one person didn't listen too well, and I can tell you that they stepped in something other than the grass.

      But with that, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I know others want to speak as well before we pass this today. So I just want to end by saying, when we look at indigenous peoples day, it includes all the indigenous and the Metis.

      And I think now that I have the opportunity here to stand on the floor, I do want to invite everyone in Manitoba to join myself, my colleague from Brandon West and my good friends Donald Nault and Will Goodon, who, on the September long weekend, will be celebrating a Koushkoupayh, which is–in English is two days done the Metis way.

      Unfortunately, my aunt will not be there. She's out in–moved out to BC, I believe, and she was making some amazing bannock. But I understand this year they're forgoing the bannock and going with tacos. So I've put my order in already. Again, it's about a maybe 20-minute drive south of Brandon, in the valley. It's an awesome two days, and if anybody wants more information certainly give me a shout, check on the Internet, check on Facebook. I'm sure they would love to have you out there to help us celebrate two days done the Metis way.

      Thank you very much, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

Mr. Rob Altemeyer (Wolseley): Thank you very much, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and my colleagues for that warm welcome.

      My comments today on this proposal from the Conservative Pallister government will be similar to my comments to other items along these lines. I, of course, have absolutely no problem with the celebration of National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21st, have been honoured to attend many events over my 15-year career in–as an elected official and had been attending events prior to that on that very  important day, all of which is to say June 21st is already celebrated quite widely as National Indigenous Peoples Day.

      And we did, unfortunately, just see yet another incidence where this government had a perfect opportunity to take some real action and put some teeth in behind what they are proposing because our caucus just proposed that this day be changed into a statutory holiday, which would put some real teeth behind the government's message that presumably they're trying to communicate to raise the profile of indigenous peoples day. And what happened? They voted it down.

      So, unfortunately, that puts this resolution squarely in the same category as many of the other things that this government has brought forward. They want to recognize this day and that day and the other day, all the while doing absolutely nothing to address any of the substantive issues that lie beneath it.

      And, unfortunately, when you look at this government's track record right up to the present day with indigenous people, unfortunately, you can't help  but conclude that on many instances, they just  don't get it. And the Premier (Mr. Pallister) is unfortunately leading the way in not getting it and in not setting a good tone or a good example or conducting himself with good actions to really further the cause of reconciliation.

      I think the vast majority of the progress that has been made towards reconciliation has instead been happening at the community level. Certainly, since this government came to office that's an inescapable truth. And the vast majority of the credit for that progress needs to be quite properly directed to indigenous people themselves. The work, the patience, the knowledge that indigenous people are stepping forward to proudly share with those of us   who are not indigenous must be a very, very difficult task. And those of us who are non‑indigenous have been unacceptably slow in recognizing the importance of this dialogue, the necessity of it and the absolutely crucial future that  hangs in the balance for our province if we do not further the cause of reconciliation.

      And I take great joy in a lot of the local changes that have happened right in my own constituency, because indigenous people, despite all that they have been put through, are tenaciously defending their culture, their language and their rights, and at the same time offering to educate the non-indigenous population on the true history of our country and our province and the true modern-day circumstances that far too many indigenous people face.

      And some of the local success stories–I need only look around at the multiple powwow clubs that now exist in grade schools. That was unheard of when I went to school. I mean, we received–if we  received any education, quote, unquote–on indigenous people, it–there wasn't very much of it and it was not at all complimentary. History right up to, you know, grade 12, when I was in school, was white guys in canoes discovering things. And it's just a complete misrepresentation of the truth of what actually happened. And to see schools now making so much progress in providing a much more accurate education–I'm sure there's always progress to be made.

      But the fact that multiple powwow clubs exist in  multiple schools in my own constituency, it's just a really beautiful thing. And for the indigenous people to welcome clearly non-indigenous folks to participate in a powwow and to learn how to dance and the importance and the symbolism and the history behind the different moves, the different stories that are told, the different outfits that are worn is just a beautiful example of a sharing of culture.

      You can also look at Gordon Bell High School, where a collaborative effort between the staff and the teachers and the community and the student body–many indigenous students at Gordon Bell. There's now courses available for students at Gordon Bell to take where they can learn an indigenous language. Again, that was completely unheard of when I was that age.

      And just down the street at Broadway Neighbourhood Centre, of course, there's the phenomenal program known as Just TV, open to everyone, but a large number of indigenous youth from the neighbourhood and beyond able to access some award-winning programs where they can find new platforms through the arts, through music, through video, through animation to articulate their stories and to reclaim what previous governments and our culture in general has tried to take away.

      So there's such a contrast, Mr. Deputy Speaker, between that really wonderful work and progress that is happening at the community level versus the messages that keep coming out of this government. I mean, I don't have an exhaustive list here but, you know, led by the Premier (Mr. Pallister), this government is not exactly hitting a very high bar when it comes to demonstrating an understanding of reconciliation and living up to the words and commitments that are supposed to be behind it. You don't refer to the Manitoba Metis Federation as a special interest group; they're an historic part of our province.

      A special interest group would be something like the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. You know, it's just so out of line. No kidding, the Metis are now taking this government to court over the damaged relationship thanks, first and foremost, to the Premier's own lack of understanding and lack of leadership.

* (11:40)

      We have some wonderful work going on by my seatmates here, the MLA from The Pas, who's quite rightly standing up and asking this government, where's the health-care facility in Cross Lake, which has been promised by this government and they don't even have a shovel in the ground yet. So that work has to continue.

      Pemmican Island was supposed to be set aside as part of a provincial park, part of a new provincial park. Fifteen years of work by the local First Nations there, working with our previous government to engage in the proper amount of consultation leading up to that decision. And, at the last hour, the Pallister government says, no, we're going to, you know, make some of the islands part of a provincial park, but that one, that's going to go to a private corporate mining interest.

      It's just complete lack of respect for the wishes of the local people who will live there for decades and generations to come and, you know, another example of this government saying one thing–bringing a resolution like this forward, saying, hey, let's celebrate, you know, national indigenous persons day–but don't pay any attention to what we're actually doing to indigenous people over here and over there and all over the province.

      That's why this resolution is, unfortunately, kind of tainted, same as many of the other resolutions this government's brought forward. They'll say some very nice things and do something completely different, like, 180 degrees different, from the intent, spirit and actual language used in the resolutions they bring forward.

      The Premier's comments on night hunting, yes, that was not exactly a high point in government-indigenous relations. And just the fundamental lack of consultation and understanding of the importance of reconciliation in the modern era is going to hang  around this Premier (Mr. Pallister) and this government's neck for a long time to come.

      This resolution could be good, but action is needed, and it is–

Mr. Deputy Speaker: The honourable member's time has expired.

      Before we can continue, I just want to remind members when they refer to the government to say the Pallister government, they–but it's unacceptable to say the Conservative Pallister government, much like in the previous–when we–previous government when it was the NDP–it's okay to say the previous NDP government but not the NDP Selinger government.

      So, we just want to remind everybody, and that's–has been done in the past.

      So, the honourable member for Flin Flon.

Mr. Tom Lindsey (Flin Flon): I am quite privileged to rise in this Chamber and talk a little bit about this government's private member's resolution which wants the government to recognize a day that's already recognized.

      So where it says therefore be it resolved the  Legislative Assembly of Manitoba recognize national indigenous day by celebrating the many contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Metis people  and by reaffirming their commitment to reconciliation First Nations, et cetera.

      So we already know that that particular day is National Indigenous Peoples Day. And it behooves us all to recognize that. I think we put forward a pretty reasonable amendment asking that the government consider making it a holiday so that people could actually take time from work to go and participate and learn and educate and really give the day the proper meaning which it so rightfully deserves.

      The government putting forward a resolution to just recognize what's already recognized really doesn't accomplish much but, then, that's really the  history of this government, is not really accomplishing much, which is kind of too bad.

      I was reading in the paper this morning about  the  state of child welfare in particularly the Churchill-Keewatinook Aski federal constituency. Now, some people may say, well, that's a federal issue; it's got nothing to do with us. But so many of those communities that are in that federal riding are, in fact, in my Flin Flon constituency. And I realize that the Premier likes to fly south instead of north, but perhaps if he actually visited some of those communities, Mr. Deputy Speaker, he would see that kind of poverty first-hand and perhaps could extend some empathy towards those people.

      I was just up in Lac Brochet on the weekend and I can tell you that the people that I met there are just so warm and welcoming and grateful for everything and anything that they could possibly get, that really it's such a shame that they're not treated the same as everyone else.

      And yes, the federal government certainly has some responsibility for that, but these are Manitoba residents we're talking about. These are Manitoba people. These are Manitoba children.

      And to recognize that there's–I believe it was three areas in the province where the child poverty rates are so high, and yet the Minister of Families (Mr. Fielding) is quoted, in the CBC article that talked about that, of saying that they would prefer to rely on a different set of figures that, really, all the designated experts in the field said, well, no, those numbers that the minister talked about basically excluded indigenous communities, which is the whole point.

      It's those indigenous communities, those in­digen­­ous children which are living in poverty at an alarming rate, so rather than the Minister of Families trying to discount that, perhaps they could step up and actually do something about it.

      We've seen that they're not really that concerned about what takes place in the North, where the–there are so many indigenous people that are suffering. Education, opportunity, all the rest of it–on a day that  the government could actually do something meaningful to start trying to address some of the issues of child poverty, to start doing things to actually help people that live in poverty, to try and raise people out of poverty, instead of just recognizing a day that's really already recognized nationally.

      You know, this Premier (Mr. Pallister) doesn't have a very good record when it comes to dealing with some of our First Nations, Metis people.

      He's used comments that really come from a bygone era, don't actually do anything to try and foster reconciliation, and if that sort of attitude prevails at the top of the government, it makes it just that much harder for everyday Manitobans to fully embrace reconciliation, to fully understand.

      And really that's a big part of the problem, Mr.  Deputy Speaker, is average, non-indigenous Manitobans do not understand the circumstances of how our indigenous brothers and sisters landed up in the situation they're in. They have no concept. The average Manitoban has no concept of what's taken place for the last 150, 200 years with residential schools, '60s scoops and all the rest of it.

      So while the intent of this particular resolution may have the best intentions, and I commend the member for bringing it forward, because at the very least, it gives us the opportunity in this Legislative Chamber to really talk about the issues that are so prevalent in our First Nations communities and to really urge this Pallister government to take some action, to do something positive, rather than merely throwing out hurtful comments, rather than doing everything contrary to what may be in the best interests of reconciliation, which would be in the best interests for all Manitobans, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

* (11:50)

      We see a Premier and a government that seems to want to do the complete opposite to that.

      So maybe on National Indigenous Peoples Day, maybe that's a really good time for the Premier to re-evaluate his position when it comes to indigenous peoples in this province, and really have a change of heart, have a change of opinion, have a change of attitude and really embrace reconciliation and figure out what, as a government, his government can actually do as opposed to what they've done now.

      And just one of the more recent news articles talks about a mining protocol, which really is another plan to have a plan, but it's not a plan yet.

      So we would encourage this government to really get down to work and take those recommendations and have them actually come out with the duty-to-accommodate plan that's clear, concise, that's easy to follow and really get going on what needs to be and what is so important for development in the North and development in rural and to make sure that education–to make sure they're properly funded, to make sure health care is properly funded. I see the community of Cross Lake is still waiting for this government to do something with the facility so that it can become a hospital.

      So I just really want to take the opportunity to really encourage the government to get on board with reconciliation and start actually embracing the words and put some meaning to it so that every Manitoban can move forward with pride in recognizing where people have come from and where they're going and where we need to go together, Mr. Deputy Speaker, so that we can all prosper, so that we can all do better, so that we can all share in the great resources of this province.

      And really, that's what it should be all about, is all Manitobans prospering and doing better without hurting each other the way things have been done in the past. It's 2018; it's time that this Premier stepped into–

Mr. Deputy Speaker: The honourable member's time has expired.

Mr. James Allum (Fort Garry-Riverview): Of course, I am pleased to get up and to speak on the resolution put forward by the member for St. Vital (Mrs. Mayer). And I think I have to begin where all of my colleagues have begun and to echo primarily what they've said about this particular resolution. It makes no sense, as my friend from Flin Flon just says, to pass a resolution to recognize a day that's already nationally recognized. That seems counterintuitive and kind of redundant.

      And so it leads to the conclusion, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that this is an unfortunate piece of grandstanding on behalf of the Pallister government at a time when, as so many of my colleagues have  said, that we need real and genuine action on  reconciliation if we're to move forward as one  society composed of many people all in one direction, all for the common good.

      And, instead, what we end up with is a piece of grandstanding–a grandstanding resolution that wants to make the appearance of a gesture of reconciliation but actually backfires because it is at its core hollow in the absence of real and genuine action.

      My friends have pointed out that we put forward a amendment to turn it into a–turn the day into a statutory holiday, not merely to provide people with time off work in order that they can go to events, as my friend from Flin Flon just said, which is critically important to participate and be involved and to educate one's self, but also for those of us who are non-indigenous to reflect on the nature of that relationship and what it actually means for ourselves, for our families, for our brothers and sisters in the indigenous community.

      Now I'm very happy that I listened carefully to the member for Brandon West (Mr. Helwer). I'm very happy that there's been a great awakening and consciousness raising–[interjection]–Brandon East (Mr. Isleifson), sorry; my apologies–a consciousness raising and awareness and a participation on his part.

      I think that's incumbent upon all of us as MLAs to do that very thing. I think it's actually incumbent upon all of us as citizens of this province and of this country to do that very thing.

      So I acknowledge what he said in his remarks on the resolution, but again, in the absence of real and concrete action, then it becomes a hollow gesture.

      And I can say, having spent a lot of time studying a lot of history in my life, that our history is rampant with hollow gestures that make the appearance of being of goodwill but then it turned out to be something quite different.

      Last week, we discussed an amendment around night hunting for a genuine co‑management partner­ship when it comes to that issue, and that was defeated by the government.

      And I think for me that was a genuine–a gesture of reconciliation with real and tangible action associated with it, and the government–just like they did with the amendment on the statutory holiday this morning–voted against it and sort of said to our indigenous brothers and sisters, you know, yes, we'll–we're going to go this far but we won't go the next step and the next step after that, which is what's required of us in the non‑indigenous community, is to take those next steps going forward, hand in hand, in partnership with the indigenous community all across this country, in order, as I said earlier, that we can have a society where everyone counts and everyone's involved.

      Now, I had–I'm luckier than most, I would say, in a couple of regards. I did my undergraduate at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, and, in fact, I, just this morning, dropped my youngest off on his way back to Trent where he's doing his M.Sc. now, so–and I met my wife there, so it was a whole family kind of a deal there. But Trent was known then and it–as a leader, an international leader on what was called then Native studies, now today called indigenous studies.

      So my consciousness raising and my own studies were central to, as a Canadian historian, to focus in particular on Canada's indigenous past in order to try to understand the present and what we might therefore have to do into the future. My M.A. at Trent as all–as well, was in Canadian studies, but one of the three components of that program was indigenous studies.

      So you didn't leave Trent University without a proper understanding, a proper acknowledgement of the place of indigenous peoples in our collective history, but more than that, of their–indigenous peoples'–place in our communities, in our neighbourhoods, in our lives.

      And so I was lucky in my educational back­ground, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and that led to a series  of other events in my life. I was lucky enough,  when I first came to Winnipeg and started working in the CAO's office at the City, to be handed  the assignment to write the City's first, at that point, Aboriginal policy. It was called First Steps: Municipal Aboriginal Pathways, and it was approved by a council led by Glen Murray, and Dan Vandal and Jenny Gerbasi were critical features of–players in that role.

      But it was–the obligation was to find pathways in which we could engage in reconciliation before the term had even begun to have the kind of meaning that it does have in 2018.

      Part of the pathways too was the creation of an urban reserve right here in Winnipeg, and I'm proud to say that I had a good and positive role in the creation of that with Long Plain First Nation in St. James. I'm very proud of that moment.

      Also, in addition to that, we signed the first‑ever accord between the City, the Province and the federal government on indigenous relationships that ultimately resulted in two actions. One was the purchase of the Merchants Hotel, and in addition to that, the feds gave a whopping amount of money to–I'm forgetting the name of the institution, but on Selkirk–

An Honourable Member: Was it NECRC?

Mr. Allum: No, it wasn't NECRC, but one–an organization that I'm ashamed now that I–my memory's so bad about stuff like that. But positive outcomes came from that–

* (12:00)

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. When this matter's before the House, the honourable member for Riverview–Fort Garry‑Riverview (Mr. Allum) will have three minutes remaining.

      The hour being 12 p.m., the House is recessed and stands recessed until 1:30 p.m.






Tuesday, June 19, 2018


Vol. 66A



Debate on Resolutions

Res. 16–Celebrating National Indigenous Peoples Day

Gerrard  3160

Fontaine  3161

B. Smith  3161

Swan  3162

Isleifson  3164

Altemeyer 3166

Lindsey  3168

Allum   3169