“My riding of Cowichan—Malahat—Langford is home to the Coast Salish people. I live on territory that is unceded Coast Salish territory. Before I go on, I want to raise my hands and say Huy chq’u Siem to each and every one of the elders and survivors in the first nations of my communities. They have gone through so much, but they stand with such strength for their communities today. It is simply amazing to know them, their strength, their courage, and for what they do for their communities after suffering so much. If I can make this day about one thing, it really is about them, and I feel that right to the inner core of my being.”
Alistair MacGregor, House Debate
I was honoured to attend as a guest at the BC Elders Gathering hosted by Cowichan Tribes last summer.
After the historic vote in the House of Commons on May 30, 2018 that affirmed the rights of Indigenous Peoples with the passing of NDP MP Romeo Saganahs’s Bill C-262, I am extremely disappointed that Senate blocked Bill C-262 from becoming law. Bill C-262, a bill near and dear to my heart, would have enshrined into Canadian law the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), in recognition of the need to right the many wrongs of successive colonial governments, and guaranteed the human rights, dignity, and justice of and for Indigenous Peoples.
Respecting the fundamental rights of Indigenous Peoples is important for reconciliation, and human rights’ instruments like the UNDRIP forge proper relationships and partnerships between governments and Indigenous Peoples. I recently wrote an article in the Cowichan Valley Citizen outlining my extreme disappointment in the Senate for shutting the doors on NDP MP Romeo Saganash’s Bill C-262 after it pass through the House of Commons.
I was pleased to support a number of other private members bill that would help to forge a new era for both Indigenous Peoples and Canada, such as: M-116: Care for First Nations children, C-369: An Act to amend the Bills of Exchange Act, the Interpretation Act and the Canada Labour Code (National Aboriginal Day), C-386: An Act to establish Orange Shirt Day: A Day for Truth and Reconciliation, C-443: An Act to protect, maintain, revitalize and strengthen Indigenous languages.
I understand the critical role that the federal government must play in indigenous reconciliation in Canada. Last year, I spoke in the House of Commons on the need for an apology from the Pope for the actions committed by members of the Roman Catholic Church inside residential schools.
In 2018, I wrote to the federal cabinet ministers, to garner postal service to members of the Penelakut First Nation, on Thetis Island. In 2017, I wrote to the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, calling on the Liberal government to keep their election promise and increase much-needed funding to the Post-Secondary Student Support Program (PSSSP).
I have also asked the federal government to find a solution and to stop using First Nations’ traditional and unceded territories as a parking lot for freighters.
I look forward to continuing to strengthen my relationships with Indigenous communities in my riding. My NDP colleagues and I are committed to helping forge a new era for both Indigenous Peoples and Canada. This needs to be an era of respectful nation-to-nation negotiation in order for a whole host of self-governance agreements, modern-day treaties, and land claims that need to be completed. We are committed to proposing real and concrete measures that will fundamentally repair the imbalance inherent in Canada and rebuild a society that honours the original agreements to build good relationships with our neighbours. Only then can we move on, together.