Indigenous woman 'hoped to hear more on poverty' in throne speech
Treena Metallic called in to Checkup from the Listuguj First Nation in Quebec. She listened carefully to the Liberal government's throne speech and found it lacking in substantial commitments to help indigenous Canadians. While she appreciated the attention indigenous issues did receive, she is skeptical of the government's commitments and hopes to see anti-poverty initiatives for her community.
The interview has been edited for clarity.
Diana Swain: Tell me what you think of the government's priorities laid out in the throne speech.
Treena Metallic: I listened closely to the indigenous priorities, because I am indigenous myself, of course. He made comments in regards to education, missing and murdered indigenous women, and nation to nation reconciliation--and I appreciated those on the surface. But what I was hoping to hear was more on poverty. It wasn't a platform promise but it informs everything that surrounds indigenous issues.
DS: It is hard to know what to make of some of the promises. People have talked about the brevity of the speech, but the problem and the consequence of brevity is that they leave out details. People don't know what the timelines are or precisely what they mean. So they give information with one hand and take away with the other. Were you left wondering what precisely does this mean? Or did it feel as though it should be celebrated as a first step?
TM: I understand the need and why people want to celebrate what was said. In fact, I had dinner last night with friends and family and they were really energized about the speech because of the positive tone -- it made them really hopeful. But, then we got into deeper discussions we talked about education and what does quality education mean.
We speak of quality education from one vantage and they might be speaking of quality education from a totally different vantage that doesn't mesh with where we think we should be. I don't want to be a wet blanket, but I have a lot of questions.
DS: It sounds like you're saying, "I like what I'm hearing.." but there's a cynicism wondering if what you're hearing is actually going to happen.
TM: I want to like what I'm hearing. I am surrounded by people who want change. I am surrounded by people who are desperate for change. I am surrounded by people who, despite everything, have maintained an optimism for the Trudeau government. A lot of it harkens back to the Pierre Trudeau government. For some reason, in my community he's a big name here and always has been -- there's a glamour about him that people liked. There was a weird relationship that he had with indigenous people at the time. So when Justin Trudeau came along people gravitated towards him, even though in their gut they may have thought the NDP would have been a better option. So going into the throne speech, they perceived it with hope and optimism, but for myself, I need more details. We've had 10 years of austerity and 10 years of program cuts, and 10 years of robbing Peter to pay Paul, so I can understand why they heard so much more from the throne speech than I did.
DS: You mentioned it came up at dinner last night, so I wanted to ask, when dinner ended, what was the final feeling in the room?
TM: It was quiet. I stopped talking because I don't want to be the person who dampens their optimism but they knew by my silence that I wasn't buying it.
DS: Healthy skepticism isn't always a bad thing.