Implementation of the TRC calls to action in Winnipeg

On Friday, February 16th, 2018 in Débat, Indigenous Rights, Parlement

Elizabeth May

Mr. Chair, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report had a lot of specific calls to action. The hon. member mentioned how many cities meet with chief and council.

I have had occasion, through the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the big city mayors’ caucus, to hear the Mayor of Winnipeg, Brian Bowman describe some of the things that are going on in Winnipeg and other cities where the municipalities have taken on their share of what they see as a call to action within the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report, and pursued that.

Would the member reflect on those things in his own community? It certainly had impressed me to meet with mayors who, themselves, would say that they have to see these things, look at the medicine wheel, consider healing in these ways, and we really have to be deeply committed to reconciliation. They were not just mouthing the words. I found a deep commitment across much of the municipal order of government leadership across Canada. Does the member have any reflections on that?

Robert-Falcon Ouellette – Winnipeg Centre

Mr. Chair, Mayor Brian Bowman from Winnipeg has done a phenomenal job. I was a candidate against him and I recognize the great work he has done for Winnipeg. We have an aboriginal advisory council. Even our Winnipeg police force has two positions reserved for indigenous peoples in order to build a better understanding.

We had a former police chief, Devon Clunis, who spent an awful lot of time trying to build relationships with indigenous communities, to make sure that they felt the police were not there against them, but that they were there to help them and be protective of them. A lot of work goes into that each and every day in Winnipeg. There is always room for improvement. There are times when the police simply cannot respond to all the requests. Sometimes we have some issues with police response times in Winnipeg.

Nonetheless, they are on the road to trying to build a better society. However, there are so many issues that we face about needing an urban aboriginal strategy, including meth problems, opioid problems, and housing issues. I have 1,400 homeless people in my riding, many of whom were in the care of the state as children. I have 7% of the homeless population in my own riding. It is a dire situation that needs addressing with a whole-of-government approach, which I think the Prime Minister talked about today, as well as many other members in the House.

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