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‘Reconciliation on the back burner’: throne speech

Canada delivered its Speech from the Throne to signal a new session of parliament on Wednesday. The speech was largely focused on the COVID-19 pandemic and the middle class. 

After a tumultuous 10 months following the previous throne speech, including a global pandemic, the Wet’suwet’en crisis, and several high profile police brutality cases upon BIPOC in Canada (and in the United States), the federal government has said that they will be moving towards expediting several of its commitments to Indigenous Peoples. 

But for Kukip7 Judy Wilson, Secretary-Treasurer of theUnion of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC), reconciliation has been put on the back burner. 

“There’s been good words around reconciliation, but good words with no real follow through,” says Wilson. “With COVID, we couldn’t even get proper protective gear.”

In a press release, the BC Assembly of First Nations (BCAFN) also expressed their disappointment in the speech. 

They say “the BCAFN once again heard a number of urgent priority actions meant to address the downward spiraling quality of life faced by Indigenous peoples in Canada.”

The throne speech noted that Canada will continue to work towards implementing the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). A commitment to introduce legislation to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) by the end of the year was also outlined.

“I expect the federal government to carry through with the urgent priorities that the BCAFN has brought forward and highlighted repeatedly over months and years,” stated Regional Chief Terry Teegee in the release. “I expect this government to follow through on these words and commitments with urgency, not more delays”.

There is a trend with the government in making big promises, without effective plans to follow through, says Wilson. 

“I’m just happy our Nations are reading between the lines,” says Wilson. “We have to keep our due diligence and keep doing what we do.”

Anna McKenzie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Discourse

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