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‘I will be your partner,’ Trudeau tells First Nations chiefs

We commend the Liberal government, Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister Bennett for holding true to their promise to address this Canada-wide issue.

“We have made this inquiry a priority for our government because those touched by this national tragedy have waited long enough”, Trudeau said.

The leaders of Canada’s First Nations swaddled Justin Trudeau in a ceremonial blanket Tuesday as they embraced the newly elected prime minister’s commitment to what he called a “sacred obligation” to the country’s Aboriginal Peoples.

For this reason, we will continue fundraising for our own independent First Nations-led inquiry process that will focus on Ontario families and communities. In July, she sent out letters to her cabinet ministers, asking them for a plan and budget estimates on how they will implement the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

“You have made a great start in changing the relationship, Prime Minister”, said Perry Bellegarde, the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations.

The Liberal government’s second priority will be increased investments in First Nations education, which has been systemically underfunded.

Some key questions include what the mandate will be and how many commissioners will be in charge of the inquiry, which is expected to last up to two years and carry a $40 million price tag.

On the subject of spending taxpayer dollars, Mr. Zimmer said the Trudeau government is a month old, and the tally so far is six spending announcements totaling $2.8 billion – none to be spent in Canada.

Trudeau is facing pressure to put his promises into practice, including calls to implement recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and to end boil water advisories in First Nations communities within five years as promised during the election campaign.

“Where measures are found to be in conflict with your rights, where they are inconsistent with the principles of good governance, or where they simply make no public policy sense, we will rescind them”, said Trudeau, garnering applause.

He said the government will work with First Nations to “review and monitor” major resources development projects and to promote Indigenous languages and cultures.

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