We grieve with members of James Smith Cree Nation. Words are not enough.

Speaker: Ms. May
Time: 20/09/2022 10:37:40
Context: Statements by Ministers

Ms. Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I want to acknowledge that today, as on every day in this place, we stand on the territories of the Algonquin nation and want to express our gratitude to them. Meegwatch.

I also want to express gratitude to someone else. This may be somewhat unusual for starting this morning, but I cannot say another word without expressing my deep gratitude to the Conservative caucus for allowing me to speak. I then extend my congratulations to the new leader of the official opposition. Some who pay close attention to this place may know, and not to complain, that it has been since the 2021 election that Greens have been allowed to speak in moments of tribute and sadness. I am deeply grateful to the hon. member for Carleton for this change in policy. I appreciate it enormously.

I also want to say that we can all agree with every word that has been spoken. I want to thank the hon. member and Minister of Indigenous Services, the new leader of the official opposition, my friend from Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia for her words and the hon. member for Nunavut. There is not one of us whose heart is not broken.

I thought about taking off my black ribbon of mourning for Her Majesty the Queen this morning, but then I thought that I am still in mourning. Yes, Her Majesty the Queen has parted this earth, but so have members of the James Smith Cree Nation; 10 people, much loved in their communities and much loved by their families, are no longer with us and they died in horrific circumstances. I will leave my ribbon of mourning on for today at least for James Smith Cree Nation, the families of the victims and the families of the perpetrators, all of whom are in a period of deep suffering.

There is much that has been said, and I will not trespass on the time for long, but I just want to say there must be more than words. We speak words in this place of reconciliation, of a cry for justice, of a prayer for healing and that we will do better. In this circumstance, what we must do is what I am so grateful to so many Canadians for, because in the words of so many members of James Smith Cree Nation, they express gratitude and almost surprise at how many Canadians are grieving with them. We grieve together. That is the root word of “compassion”, which is to suffer together. Compassion. We share it across indigenous settler cultures. We grieve together.

Just as in another horrific circumstance, we grieved with the people of Nova Scotia in Portapique. We need to look to all the calls I have heard across the room today for inquiry and for consideration. What must we do better? James Smith Cree Nation is saying maybe it would be better off if it had indigenous police services. The chiefs in Manitoba are saying the same thing.
They do not feel secure in a situation like this. They have the policing that is needed to protect people. We have Gloria and others who were first responders and raced into the scene, like Bonnie. That circumstance of dying while protecting one’s family should not occur. We should have the police services that are needed and at the ready, and local, in my view, may be a solution that is better, whether it is Portapique or James Smith Cree Nation. We need to examine policing and we need to examine, as the hon. leader of the official opposition said, release procedures when people are dangerous and should not be released into our population.

I will not prescribe solutions at this point. We need to commit to listen, investigate and support the people of James Smith Cree First Nation and other places that are still wounded and suffering from events of violence. We can do better. We must do better.

To everybody touched by the tragedy at James Smith Cree First Nation, we send our prayers, our love and our words, and we also say clearly we know words are not enough. We will do more. We will do better. We are with them and their children as they process things that no child should ever see and no family should ever experience. I thank members for their time. Meegwatch.