Trudeau must renew his commitment to reconciliation with a new cabinet: First Nation leaders

First Nation leaders and New Democrats believe that naming a new Cabinet is Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s chance to restore the faith of residential school.

Trudeau must renew his commitment to reconciliation with a new cabinet: First Nation leaders

Charlie Angus and a St. Anne's survivor were present at a news conference Monday. This was just a day before Trudeau will reveal his new cabinet picks.

Marc Miller and Carolyn Bennett currently hold the portfolios of Indigenous Services Canada, and Crown-Indigenous Relations.

These appointments are being made amid louder demands for justice for survivors of residential schools and for the federal government not to fight them in court.

Friday is the deadline by which the Liberal government must decide if it will appeal a Federal Court decision that said it should pay $40,000 for First Nations children and their grandparents. Ottawa had discriminated against First Nations children by underfunding services for their families and children on reserve, a tribunal ruled.

The federal government could pay billions of dollars to compensate millions of children who could be eligible.

Ottawa's second court case involved expanding the eligibility for Jordan's Principle. This requires governments to pay for services for First Nations children, and then to resolve any disputes.

Adrienne Vaupshas was Miller's press secretary and wrote an email to The Canadian Press stating that Canada is currently reviewing the decision.

Angus states that Trudeau has four days to reconcile with litigants and not take them back to court.

We call on the Canadian government, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to follow those orders. He has spent enough money fighting for us, fighting for our children," stated Anna Betty Achneepineskum. The deputy grand chief at Nishnawbe aski Nation, which is home to 49 First Nations in northern Ontario, said.

She stated that Bennett has not lived up to the government’s mandate of reconciliation for Indigenous Peoples, and that its relationship with them must "strengthen and be honoured."

Trudeau's visit to Tofino (B.C.) last month for Canada's first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation has also been criticized. It was intended to honor the Indigenous children who were sent to church-run, government-funded residential schools where many of them perished.

Over Tuesday's swearing-in ceremony is also the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves made by First Nations in Saskatchewan, British Columbia and elsewhere at former residential schools.

Concerns have been raised that the Catholic Church has not properly compensated survivors under the historic Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, or that Pope Francis has not apologized to survivors, as required by the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's last report which detailed the abuses perpetrated against the children sent to these schools.

Friday, Mushkegowuk council Deputy Grand Chief Rebecca said Bennett has not responded to questions raised over claims for compensation from those who attended St. Anne's School. This school was where physical and sexual abuse was reported against children from Fort Albany First Nation in northern Ontario.

From 1902 to 1976, the federally funded school was managed by the Catholic Oblates of Mary Immaculate or the Grey Sisters of the Cross.

Evelyn Korkmaz was a student at St. Anne's residential schools. She has been calling for the government's release of records about abuses that occurred at the facility. She and others want Trudeau to meet.

"I want the prime minister personally to explain to me why the government withheld the names and evidences of the perpetrators but refuses to turn over person of interest reports that would allow survivors closure on our files."

Angus stated that Bennett was asked several times about St. Anne's, and deferred the matter until lawyers. This shows she has "failed the test of reconciliation."

"If the prime minister wishes to send a clear signal that he's listening and will change, he must have someone new at his table."

Friday's statement stated that the ministers in the "powerful" positions of Indigenous Services Canada or Crown-Indigenous Relations following Tuesday "have got to really come to terms with the survivors."

"We must really get things moving. We won't be coming back here."

Updated Date: 26 October 2021, 13:15

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