OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stressed the need for a new, nation-to-nation relationship with Aboriginal Peoples as he spoke to First Nations leaders on Tuesday.
“I promise you that I will be your partner in the years to come, and hope that you will be mine,” he said. “We have much work to do together.”
Trudeau said a new relationship needs to be established, based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership.
“I know that renewing our relationship is an ambitious goal, but I am equally certain that it is one we can, and will, achieve if we work together,” Trudeau said.
The prime minister has vowed to move on implementing recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, including the pledge to look into the question of missing and murdered aboriginal women.
This afternoon, three members of Trudeau’s cabinet _ Status of Women Minister Patty Hajdu, Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett and Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould _ are scheduled to provide more information on the missing and murdered women inquiry.
“We have made this inquiry a priority for our government because those touched by this national tragedy have waited long enough,” Trudeau said. “The victims deserve justice, their families _ an opportunity to heal and to be heard.”
In his address, Trudeau also said the Liberal government understands constitutionally guaranteed rights of First Nations are not an inconvenience but rather “a sacred obligation.”
Trudeau has promised to ensure aboriginal children have access to education and that he will lift the two per cent cap on reserve program funding.
“As you know, that limit has been in place for nearly 20 years,” he said. “It hasn’t kept up with the demographic realities of your communities, nor the actual costs of program delivery.”