NDP Nomination Contestant, Peggy Lauzon, has denounced the Harper government’s dismal relationship with indigenous peoples. A day after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) released its final findings, Lauzon castigated the government for its belligerent approach to working with indigenous peoples along with local MP Bryan Hayes’ inaction.
“Every time this government has introduced legislation affecting indigenous peoples, it has contained a poison pill that undermines indigenous self-determination,” said Lauzon. “The First Nations Education Act, for instance, gave more control to the federal government and provincially-defined curricula and accreditations that don’t acknowledge indigenous cultures and community realities. The so-called Fair Elections Act actually makes it harder for many indigenous peoples to vote. Bill C-51 risks equating legitimate indigenous and environmental protests as acts of terrorism. This is not how you build a positive, nation-to-nation relationship.”
High among the many concerns Lauzon expressed was the government’s failure to act decisively and in partnership with Métis and First Nations on the growing number of missing and murdered indigenous women across Canada. At an event on March 4th, Hayes dismissed calls for a national inquiry, noting many of the murders had been solved, adding “this is over a 30 year period, it’s not like this happened yesterday.” Lauzon responded Thursday, stating “Hayes’ comments miss the whole point of calls for an inquiry. The homicide rate of indigenous women is more than four times that of non-indigenous women. We need an inquiry to identify how we tackle the root problems that cause that disparity.” Referring to the Aboriginal Community Safety Development program, Lauzon went on to add, “The government says they already know the answers, but the only program they offer places the onus on individuals to protect themselves while ignoring deeper causes of violence, such as marginalization and poverty.”
“The findings of the TRC are an opportunity for the Government of Canada to live up to its obligations to indigenous peoples rooted in a nation-to-nation relationship going back to the Royal Proclamation and the Treaty of Niagara,” Lauzon added.
The findings contain far-reaching calls to action, including ending the discrepancy in federal education funding of First Nations children on and off reserve, recognizing indigenous language rights, addressing systemic issues in the health and justice systems, and providing a framework for the ongoing reconciliation process, including a nation-to-nation relationship based on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
“This government has repeatedly tried to pit First Nations, Métis, and non-Native peoples against each other. I believe the people of Sault Ste. Marie know better. Whether we’re Aboriginal or non-Aboriginal, we know we have a lot to share and a lot to learn from one another. Most of all, we know we can achieve great things when we work together in a relationship rooted in respect,” said Lauzon.
On Tuesday, the NDP committed to act on the TRC’s report and to consult with indigenous people to establish which recommendations require the most pressing attention. The party has long called for the implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. NDP Leader, Tom Mulcair commented, “As Canadians, we must all learn more about this sombre chapter in our history. We will not forget the testimonies and we will remember the children who never made it home to their families.” Mulcair’s full statement is available at NDP.ca.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada was established following the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement and endeavors to uncover and inform the public of the truth of what happened in Canada’s residential school system. Findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission can be accessed on the Commission’s website.
About Peggy Lauzon:
Peggy Lauzon is a small business owner and community developer running for the NDP nomination in Sault Ste. Marie. NDP Members will gather 7 p.m. on June 16th at the Delta Waterfront Hotel to elect their candidate for the upcoming federal election expected in October. Follow Peggy’s campaign on her website or via Facebook.
She is the founder and president of The Aberdeen Group, which provides accounting and consulting services to other small businesses and not-for-profits across Algoma. As a volunteer, she has been actively involved with the Soup Kitchen Health Centre Advisory Committee, St Luke’s Cathedral and the Anishinabek Information Technology Centre, among many other groups. Lauzon also teaches community engagement and strategic planning at Algoma University and works closely with young people to help support their change-making efforts.