Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan issues statement on National Indigenous Peoples Day
Calgary, AB (June 21, 2020): Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan says, “National Indigenous Peoples Day is a time for Albertans and all Canadians to celebrate the cultural diversity of Indigenous peoples. I encourage everyone to learn more about the rich tradition and history of First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples across this Province and throughout Canada.
“This year, the Black Lives Matter movement and the focus on police brutality and systemic racism have shone a spotlight yet again on the treatment Indigenous Peoples face every day in this country by authorities and colonial governments.
“It has now been almost a year since the publication of the Final Report of the National Inquiry on Murdered & Missing Indigenous Women & Girls (“MMIWG”) which concluded that genocide was perpetrated on Indigenous Peoples and called for 231 “imperative” “Calls for Justice”, and almost five years since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission published its 94 “Calls to Action”. Little progress has been made to implement any of these, and Parliament and most provincial Legislatures — including Alberta’s — have yet to enshrine the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (“UNDRIP”) into law.
“Colonial practices and contemporary underfunding on reserves have resulted in higher rates of drug use, mental illness, suicide, incarceration, and a “modern Sixties Scoop” or “Millennial Scoop” of Indigenous children being taken into state care. Some reserves still face challenges in accessing basic necessities such as clean water.
“Indigenous Albertans also face greater economic challenges as well. According to the 2019 Indigenous Economic Progress Report, the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous employment rates was still 8.4 per cent. “Economic reconciliation” includes sharing resource revenues and opportunities with Indigenous nations and communities, including Indigenous equity participation or ownership in resource and infrastructure projects like the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion.
“Both the Alberta and Federal Governments must do more to resolve these serious issues. We must address the rising number of Indigenous children in state care and empower and fund First Nations government agencies to provide their own child and family services, guarantee access to clean water, improve education and eliminate the gap in funding for on-reserve vs. off-reserve schools, and provide sustainable police services.
“Jurisdictional wrangling must be overcome: First Nations governments and the Provincial and Federal governments all have a role to play, while respecting and enhancing First Nations sovereignty and governance, in the spirit of reconciliation.
“I encourage all Albertans to celebrate Indigenous culture and commit themselves to support real change on the shared path towards reconciliation. We must do this not just today, but every day.”
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