Re­build the ‘colo­nial boat’: Ben­nett

Min­is­ter tells chiefs she wants to change and im­prove re­la­tion­ship with First Na­tions

StarMetro Edmonton - - CANADA & WORLD - Jan­ice Dick­son

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.”

THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Assem­bly of First Na­tions Chief Perry Bel­le­garde ad­dresses the Spe­cial Chiefs assem­bly in Ot­tawa on Tues­day.

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