Mackinaw sanguine about PM’s approach to FN issues

First-time actions taken by the federal government in relation to First Nations on their status and grievances.

First Nations of Canada seem to be happy with several first-time actions taken by the federal government in relation to their status and grievances.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Tuesday, Dec. 8, which included Craig Mackinaw of Ermineskin nation in Maskwacis, Alberta regional chief. Mackinaw said over a decade had passed since a prime minister met with AFN chiefs. “I know it’s the first time a prime minister addressed the AFN assembly in over 15 or 20 years.”

He added that so far Trudeau has been following through with his election campaign promises. The Dec. 8 meeting also set some potential improvements in the relationships between the federal government and the AFN with Trudeau stating there is a need for renewed nation to nation relationship.

Among the priorities expressed by Trudeau were lifting the two per cent cap on funding for First Nations programs, something the prime minister says hasn’t been changed for almost 20 years. Mackinaw is pleased to see other areas of focus such as launching a national public inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women, implementing all 94 Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations, investing in First Nations education and to repeal legislation imposed by the previous government.

While it is early days yet, Mackinaw suggests after the New Year it will be clearer how this will look and unfold but added much of what was talked about gave consideration to treaty agreements between First Nations and Canada.

One week after Trudeau spoke with the AFN assembly, the Truth and Reconciliation released its final report. Mackinaw suggests implementing each recommendation will take time. While he feels implementation of some recommendations can start relatively soon, others may take some years to develop a plan of action.

Another first at Dec. 8 was the attendance and speeches of Bob Paulson, RCMP Commissioner; Hunter Tootoo, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and Carolyn Bennett, the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs.