Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples has been deeply troubled and must change. Successive federal governments have denied the basic human rights of Indigenous peoples, stolen children from their parents, forced Indigenous peoples off their homelands and territories, and claimed lands without consent or compensation.
We don’t believe Indigenous peoples should be treated this way.
New Democrats are committed to undertaking the important work of reconciliation in good faith, and in true and equal partnership with Indigenous communities across the country. We’re committed to making different choices that prioritize Indigenous sovereignty and autonomy, and supporting services and programs that increase quality of life and dignity.
New Democrats believe the federal government should not be able to pick and choose which Indigenous rights they will uphold and which ones they will ignore. A new framework for reconciliation must be grounded in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which sets out minimum standards for the survival, dignity, and well-being of Indigenous peoples.
In partnership with Indigenous peoples, a New Democrat government will fully implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action.
New Democrats will work with Indigenous peoples to co-develop a National Action Plan for Reconciliation, drawing directly from the Calls to Action and the Declaration to ensure that Canada’s laws, policies, and practices are consistent with Canada’s human rights commitments – including cultural rights, land rights, and rights to self-determination and self-government.
Through legislation, we will establish a National Council for Reconciliation to provide oversight and accountability for this process, reporting regularly to Parliament and Canadians.
A New Democrat government will replace mere consultation with a standard of free, prior, and informed consent for Indigenous communities affected by government policies – including for all decisions affecting constitutionally protected land rights, like energy project reviews. We are committed to good-faith, consent-based engagement and negotiations consistent with the Tsilhqot’in decision, an approach that honours Canada’s legal and constitutional obligations.
We will recognize and respect treaties, supporting Indigenous Nations who are building and re-building their governance structures.
We will also respect Inuit self-determination by co-developing the federal government’s Arctic Policy Framework through shared governance within the Inuit-Crown Partnership Committee, including through the adoption of an Inuit Nunangat policy in full partnership with Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. We will support the economic and social self-reliance of Inuit by addressing the massive infrastructure deficit in Northern communities.
New Democrats recognize Métis self-determination and in government, we will respect the path forward established by the Métis National Council and its governing members. We will pursue government-to-government negotiations on issues including self-government, education, housing, and health.
A New Democrat government will work in partnership with Indigenous communities across the country to help protect and revitalize the incredible diversity of Indigenous languages in Canada with new legislation and stable funding. In response to Truth and Reconciliation Commission Call to Action 80, we will establish a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to acknowledge the painful legacy of colonization, honour the Survivors of residential schools, and help communities across Canada commit to meaningful reconciliation.
Children deserve the very best start in life. Every single child in Canada should have the care and opportunities that they need to succeed and thrive – without exception.
But for generations, the Canadian government’s treatment of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children has been a national disgrace and an unspeakable tragedy. While residential schools no longer operate, the intergenerational trauma caused by them is felt every day. And despite the apologies from political leaders, the reality is that systemic discrimination against Indigenous children continues today.
Indigenous children and young people have the right to culture, language, and to be raised in their own communities – all of which are vital to overall well-being. By implementing the United Nations Declaration and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action, and supporting self-determination, New Democrats will make sure that all First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children, young people, and families are treated with the respect and care that they deserve.
New Democrats will take immediate action to respect, support, and resource Indigenous jurisdiction over child welfare systems, and will back this commitment with long-term, predictable funding guaranteed in legislation so that Indigenous peoples can exercise their jurisdiction and authority over matters involving their own children and families.
We also commit to ending discrimination against Indigenous children, young people, and families by fully implementing the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal orders, which ordered the Canadian government to stop chronically underfunding child welfare services on reserve, and working with the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society to implement the Spirit Bear Plan.
A New Democrat government will also fully implement Jordan’s Principle, working with the provinces and territories to end the delays and ensure equitable access to health services and educational supports for Indigenous children from coast to coast to coast.
New Democrats believe that everyone in Canada should be able to find a safe and affordable place to call home. And no one in this country should be forced to live in housing that makes them sick.
But today, decades of failure by the federal government has resulted in a devastating housing crisis for many First Nations, Inuit, and Métis families. The Liberal government has failed to help people, leaving communities with long waiting lists for housing, and overcrowded, dilapidated homes. The mould crisis continues to harm people’s health. And chronic overcrowding is hurting people in Indigenous communities across the country. The Conservatives have an even worse record from their time in government: they announced a fund for 25,000 homes, yet six years later, fewer than 100 homes had been built.
It’s time to end the housing crisis for good with safe and affordable housing in every Indigenous community, on and off reserve.
New Democrats will address the Indigenous housing crisis and put an end to chronic overcrowding and long wait lists by working with Indigenous communities to implement co-developed First Nations, Métis, and Inuit housing strategies. These innovative, ground-up strategies will mean sustainable and dedicated funding to meet the needs of Indigenous peoples, whether in urban, rural, or remote communities.
We believe that the federal government must immediately step up to tackle the mould crisis affecting tens of thousands of homes, and provide support for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples to ensure that their homes are safe and healthy. We will also ensure that Indigenous communities have the resources to make homes greener and more energy efficient, working to keep the benefits of good jobs, training, and investment close to home.
Under Liberal and Conservative governments, young people in Indigenous communities haven’t had access to a quality education. Successive governments have failed to provide core funding for on-reserve education, failed to adequately support Indigenous post-secondary students, and failed to deliver a plan for how the government will bring all schools on reserve up to provincial standards – despite Parliament committing to this when they passed the Shannen’s Dream motion in 2012.
In government, New Democrats will ensure that every child is provided a safe place to learn and an opportunity to succeed, whether on or off reserve. We will implement Shannen’s Dream of equitable access to education, backed by federal investments and infrastructure, so no student will be forced to learn in dangerous environments as we have witnessed in Kashechewan First Nation.
Recognizing that barriers to post-secondary education and training continue, we will support Indigenous youth and help them bridge the gap to post-secondary education through expanded financial assistance and increased educational opportunities for children who grew up in care, and distance education for rural and remote students.
And we believe that all Canadians should be aware of the contributions and history of Indigenous peoples and understand the legacy of residential schools. We will work with the provinces to establish Indigenous history education programs for all Canadians, based on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action 62 and 63 – and ensure that the development and implementation of these programs are led by Indigenous peoples.
For communities to thrive, it takes strong public services that families can count on. It takes safe, reliable infrastructure and opportunities for young people to build a good life.
But today, too many Indigenous communities across the country are still waiting for clean drinking water, basic emergency services, secure public transportation, or help with environmental initiatives – sometimes with tragic consequences.
New Democrats believe that it is past time for the federal government to step up and fund the services and infrastructure that Indigenous communities need to thrive – it is an important part of the responsibility that Canada owes to Indigenous peoples given the deep and intergenerational impacts of colonialism.
This means making the investments required to ensure clean water and lift all drinking water advisories for good by 2021, and supporting Indigenous-led water management training programs and water system operations as an immediate priority. And this means funding on-reserve emergency management and prevention, including firefighting training and equipment. It also means ensuring safe public transportation by resuming and expanding rural and remote bus routes and passenger rail service.
Strong communities are sustainable communities, and many Indigenous communities have been at the forefront of the move towards renewable energy. We will work with them to protect infrastructure from climate change and increase the use of renewable energy. New Democrats will help expand community-owned renewable energy projects – and support efforts to transition remote communities away from polluting diesel and harmful fumes, towards reliable and clean energy alternatives.
Health care is one of the basics that every family needs. No matter who you are or where you live, you need to know that you can count on quality medical help when you and your loved ones need it.
But in 2019, a shocking number of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities do not have access to reliable health care services. People cannot get the mental health care they need. Residents of remote communities are forced to live with just a few days per month of medical care. And the crumbling and outdated infrastructure at many federal nursing stations is simply inadequate for the needs of these communities.
After four years in government, the Liberals have failed to invest adequately in Indigenous health care to fix the problems – inadequate funds for suicide prevention in the North, and for medical clinics, universal pharmacare, and traditional ways of healing. Meanwhile, when they were in government, the Conservatives not only failed to invest in health care; they cut funding for Indigenous-led health initiatives.
New Democrats will make sure that the federal government steps up to close the health gap in Indigenous communities, and supports Indigenous health self-determination. We recognize that healing the ongoing trauma caused by colonialism and residential schools will require long-term partnership and reliable, ongoing funding.
We will make sure that people can get the treatment they need in their community through investments in Indigenous health care infrastructure and diagnostic equipment. We will work in partnership with Indigenous communities to improve access to mental health and addiction treatment services – including an evidence-based action plan to prevent suicide, backed by dedicated federal resources, fully implementing the New Democrat motion on suicide prevention passed by the House of Commons.
A New Democrat government will also work with communities and care providers to ensure that Indigenous-led, culturally appropriate home care and long-term care is available for Elders, in their home communities and languages.
We will support Indigenous food sovereignty, and reform the Nutrition North program to improve families’ access to food, including country and traditional food.
Finally, we will build a treatment centre for residents affected by long-term mercury exposure and compensate families affected by the inter-generational problem of mercury poisoning in Grassy Narrows.
In every community, New Democrats are committed to delivering better access to health care. It’s who we are.
For decades now, Indigenous peoples have been seeking a new fiscal relationship with the Crown that respects the existence of inherent title and rights. A new fiscal relationship means secure funding to support programs and services, and access to revenue streams to help close the socio-economic gap and support self-government.
Making sure that Indigenous communities thrive also means working in partnership with Indigenous peoples to expand economic opportunities and create good jobs in Indigenous communities all across the country.
A New Democrat government will work with Indigenous communities to encourage economic development and create good jobs through infrastructure investments and expanded access to broadband internet and cell service for rural and remote communities. We commit to working with Indigenous entrepreneurs to find solutions for accessing capital and scale up investing in Indigenous social enterprise projects and entrepreneurship.
Smaller Indigenous communities left behind by the current funding model need dedicated regional economic development support to help expand economic opportunities in a way that reflects the community’s social and cultural values.
A New Democrat government will also create a Northern Infrastructure Fund to fast-track investment and focus on improving much needed infrastructure like roads and broadband internet for communities in the North.
Respect for Indigenous women, girls, and Two-Spirit people must be at the core of a new Crown-Indigenous relationship. But for too many Indigenous women, systemic discrimination and violence continues to be a reality.
After the Conservatives refused to address the tragedy of missing and murdered Indigenous women for almost a decade, the Liberal government finally launched a long overdue inquiry – but then set it up with a limited mandate, and failed to adequately care for the families who courageously shared their stories. The Inquiry’s finding of a genocide against Indigenous women in Canada demands action from all Canadians.
The report from the National Inquiry must not sit on a shelf. New Democrats will work in partnership with Indigenous women, the families of the missing and murdered, and communities to implement the Inquiry’s Calls for Justice and the calls to action brought forward by communities. This includes establishing a comprehensive, plan to address violence against Indigenous women,girls, and LGBTQI2S+ people — ensuring that all those fleeing violence have access to culturally appropriate programming, emergency shelters, and transitional housing.
We believe it’s wrong that Indigenous women and their children still do not have equal status rights — including the right to pass on the ability to qualify for Indian status registration. Successive Conservative and Liberal governments have failed to fix this gross inequality. New Democrats will act to ensure full gender equality for First Nations status as a matter of priority, consistent with Canadian and international court rulings.
New Democrats acknowledge that respect for Indigenous women, girls, and Two-Spirit people must be made real by ensuring equitable access and self-determination over land, culture, language, housing, child care, income security, employment, education, and physical, mental, sexual, and spiritual health.
Everyone should be able to count on the justice system to keep them safe and treat them fairly. But today, Indigenous peoples are disproportionately over-represented in Canada’s prison system, and the experience of discrimination remains far too common in policing from coast to coast to coast. Even the Supreme Court of Canada has recognized that Indigenous peoples face direct and systemic discrimination at all levels of the justice system.
New Democrats believe government must work to end systemic discrimination against Indigenous peoples in the justice system. In accordance with Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action 30, 31, and 32, we will increase the discretion of judges during sentencing, ensure bail programs are culturally appropriate, bolster funding for community justice programs that focus on healing and restorative justice rather than incarceration, and uphold the use of Gladue principles in court proceedings.
We will work with Indigenous communities to enhance community safety and provide the necessary resources for Indigenous policing, while taking steps to end discriminatory policing practices like carding.
A New Democrat government will support the Directive on Civil Litigation Involving Indigenous Peoples that puts an end to costly and adversarial legal battles with Indigenous communities. We will also keep residential school Survivors at the heart of decisions around justice for their experiences, ensuring fair compensation for St. Anne’s residential school Survivors, Métis Survivors, and those who survived abuse in day schools.
The climate crisis is not just an environmental emergency. It also threatens traditional food sources and the very survival of many Indigenous communities. We have to move past the delays and inaction of past Liberal and Conservative governments and take a fundamentally different approach to our future – one that recognizes a holistic definition of sustainability.
New Democrats will put reconciliation at the core of this effort, upholding Indigenous knowledge and respecting inherent sovereignty. We recognize that as original peoples of this country, Indigenous peoples have intimate connections to their homelands, territories, and resources and have provided stewardship since time out of memory. Indigenous peoples are best placed to protect cultural and biological diversity through control over their territory – and so the recognition of inherent rights, title, and treaty rights will be at the heart of our approach to addressing climate change.
To make full and equal partnership the basis of Canada’s efforts, New Democrats will ensure that First Nations, Inuit, and Métis leadership have a seat at high-level decision making tables to help direct climate change efforts in Canada.
We will also expand the Indigenous Guardians Program, invest in Indigenous-led science, and support the creation of Indigenous-managed protected areas – and make sure that species recovery efforts respect Indigenous rights and embrace traditional knowledge to increase biodiversity.
Indigenous communities are not only stewards of their territories – they are also on the front lines dealing with the impacts of climate change every day. A New Democrat government will work jointly with Indigenous leadership and communities to develop coordinated action plans to respond to climate change emergencies like wildfires and floods. This work will be informed by Indigenous traditional and ecological knowledge and legal systems, and include improving existing infrastructure, developing new infrastructure, and supporting response efforts to keep people safe.
First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples need to be partners in the development of job creation, employment training, and infrastructure investments that flow from federal efforts to address climate change, ensuring that they are implemented in ways that fit the needs and priorities of local communities.
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