Indigenous framework about restoring trust in government, ministers say
Prime minister announced upcoming changes Wednesday in the House of Commons
The newly announced legal framework to recognize Indigenous rights will focus on addressing unfinished business and showing the government is ready for reforms, according to two ministers overseeing the file.
"It's the political will to make sure people know things have changed," Carolyn Bennett, the minister of Crown-Indigenous relations, told The House.
"We are saying 'we know you have rights, let's sit down at the table and figure out what are the most important things you want to work on now to be able to exercise the rights that are the most important to your community.'"
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised a fundamental rethink of how the federal government recognizes Indigenous rights, vowing to work with Indigenous partners to develop a new legal framework to foster self-governance.
The shift toward respecting Indigenous rights gained momentum when the Constitution Act was passed in 1982 by Pierre Elliott Trudeau, but the rights outlined in that document weren't always respected.
As an example of the issues that need addressing, the prime minister pointed to decades of rights-based legal battles.
"Instead of outright recognizing and affirming Indigenous rights, as we promised we would, Indigenous Peoples were forced to prove, time and time again, through costly and drawn-out court challenges, that their rights existed, must be recognized and implemented," Justin Trudeau said this week.
The framework, which still has to be developed despite a promise to be in place by the next election, will outline a new way to deal with those court cases.
In addition to fostering self determination, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould said proper rights recognition will essentially mean the government won't meet Indigenous groups in court to challenge their claims.
Finally, there will be a way forward to help in "correcting the unfinished business of Confederation," she told The House.
"Our justice system is challenged when it comes to addressing issues of individuals who have been marginalized."