Don Moran | CUPE Equality

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Final Report into abuses at residential schools outlines 94 separate calls to action. CUPE immediately applauded the report, pledging to do our part as a labour organization and partnering with Indigenous allies to ensure governments fulfill their promise to fully implement the calls to action.

The Trudeau government has committed to a “renewed, nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous Peoples, based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership.” 

This is certainly welcome, but Indigenous people need action as well as words. 

The 2016 budget commits $2.6 billion for First Nations education, but $1.45 billion of that amount won’t be available until after the next federal election, when the Liberal Party may not be in power. The funding committed for essential infrastructure is also far below what is needed. For example, it’s estimated that it will cost close to $8 billion to ensure safe drinking water for all First Nations communities, yet the 2016 budget only committed $618 million. 

Mi’kmaw lawyer Dr. Pamela Palmater feels the federal government may be backsliding on its commitment to establish a “nation- to-nation relationship” with First Nations and ensure participation of Indigenous people in the economy.

Instead the budget refers to Indigenous nations as people, groups, communities and stakeholders. Partnerships which were to be based on Indigenous peoples’ right to free, prior and informed consent about decisions affecting their lives and lands have been turned into partnerships based on consultation, and where appropriate, accommodation. 

True reconciliation will require more substantial and meaningful action to meet the promise of a genuine nation-to-nation relationship.