P.E.I. Mi'kmaq chiefs 'optimistic' about Trudeau's aboriginal relationship reset
'We will remain guarded in our optimism until we see these promises in action'
P.E.I. Mi'kmaq chiefs are expressing cautious optimism after hearing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak at the Assembly of First Nations Special Chiefs Assembly in Gatineau, Quebec, Tuesday.
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"The Prime Minister pledged a total renewal of the relationship between Canada and the First Nations peoples," said Chief Brian Francis of the Abegweit First Nation.
The respect of rights, treaties and jurisdictions is an obligation not a choice.— Abegweit First Nations Chief Brian Francis
"We are optimistic that we can make progress on a relationship that honours and respects the constitutionally guaranteed rights of First Nations — a relationship that recognizes that the respect of rights, treaties and jurisdictions is an obligation, not a choice."
Trudeau's 5 priorities
The prime minister said his government would immediately move on the following five promises the Liberals made during the recent election campaign:
- Launch a national public inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women.
- Make significant investments in First Nations education.
- Lift the two per cent cap on funding for First Nations programs.
- Implement all 94 recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
- Repeal all legislation unilaterally imposed on indigenous people by the previous government.
"Prime Minister Trudeau touched on a number of issues that P.E.I. First Nation leadership have been emphasizing and advocating on publicly," said Chief Matilda Ramjattan of Lennox Island First Nation.
'We will remain guarded'
"We are pleased that the prime minister is publicly re-committing to implementing these signature election promises; however, we will remain guarded in our optimism until we see these promises in action."
The P.E.I. Mi'kmaq chiefs, on behalf of all Island Mi'kmaq on- and off-reserve, are attending the Special Chiefs Assembly in Gatineau, Quebec.
The Assembly of First Nations is a national advocacy organization representing First Nation citizens in Canada, which includes more than 900,000 people living in 634 First Nation communities and in cities and towns across the country.