Rebuild the ‘colonial boat’: Bennett
Minister tells chiefs she wants to change and improve relationship with First Nations
OTTAWA—Canada has been trying to navigate the waters of relations with Indigenous people in “a big, leaky old colonial boat,” says Carolyn Bennett.
“For years we’ve tried to patch this old wreck and we’ve been bailing it with a thimble. We all know that this isn’t going to work,” the minister for Crown-Indigenous relations told delegates at the Assembly of First Nations’ Special Chiefs Assembly in Ottawa Tuesday.
Bennett said Canada needs to keep up with Indigenous people, their aspirations and their goals.
“I believe Canada needs to get out of that colonialist boat, run it ashore, leave it to rot or at least put it up, dry dock and rebuild it. We need a vessel that can navigate the changing waters, one that can
keep pace with your vision and aspiration. One that is no longer holding back the promise for your children and grandchildren and their grandchildren,” Bennett said.
Bennett said that moving away from the 1876 Indian Act that largely defines relations between Canada and Indigenous Peoples is a mutual goal.
She repeated that the federal government will introduce legislation on Indigenous child-and-family services in the new year, written in co-operation with Indigenous groups.
“We want to work on this new ship and we want to get it in the water because we know the current is with us.”
Assembly of First Nations Chief Perry Bellegarde addresses the Special Chiefs assembly in Ottawa on Tuesday.