First Nations Drinking Water (D)

Motion: That the House call on the Government of Canada to address on an urgent basis the needs of those First Nations communities whose members have no access to clean, running water in their homes; that action to address this disparity begin no later than spring 2012; and that the House further recognize that the absence of this basic requirement represents a continuing affront to our sense of justice and fairness as Canadians.

Mr. Alain Giguère: Mr. Speaker, the member who just spoke talked of fundamental respect. I would like to make an aside, a little comment meant for everyone here. Nearly 150 years ago, two founding peoples decided to create this country. A third people was deliberately left out of the discussion, left out of the creation of this country. And this colonialism still exists. We, the political representatives of the two founding peoples, are going to decide what right the third people has to water and what the quality of that water will be.

These discussions will go on and on as long as we do not accept the fundamental fact that the Indian Act is colonial and outdated. These discussions will take place as long as we refuse to recognize the first nations as one of the founding peoples. Two or three years from now, we will be talking about housing and education rights. That is the problem. The first nations have a basic right to be part of the discussion and to fundamental respect.

Ms. Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his comments. Generally, we agree, but the question of the role of the Indian Act concerns aboriginal people first and foremost. National Chief Atleo has said that there are major problems with the act. He wants to see changes made to it, but that is an issue for a broader dialogue than today’s debate on the right to clean, safe water.