Jody Wilson-Raybould stands on a foundation of integrity: Algonquin Elder

Much ink has spilled on social media about the fiasco involving which office Jody Wilson-Raybould should occupy in Ottawa as a member of Parliament.

Nation to Nation has a single, and final, thought on this.

But first:

Children continue to die in the child welfare system and those that survived are being fought in court by the Trudeau government.

There continues to be dirty drinking water in many First Nations.

The housing crisis if far from being solved.

Treaties are not being honoured.

The list goes on and on.

So, again, about that office, this is what a prominent Elder has to say.

“There’s bigger and better things, and more important things, that need to be worked on; that need to be resolved and really it’s about the people,” said Claudette Commanda, an Alongquin Edler from Kitigan Zibi First Nation, about an hour’s drive north of Ottawa in Quebec.

“Now, with respect to Jody Wilson Raybould, she is a strong woman, she stands on a foundation of integrity and things will work out.”

Things have seemed to have been settled as it was reported late Wednesday that Wilson-Raybould has found a new office, vacating a portion of the office she once had as a minister in the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet.

Claudette Commanda. File Photo.

Reconciliation isn’t about lofty words, said Commanda, it requires action no matter the person or the party.

Commanda is called upon often to speak at ceremonies or gatherings in the capital, regularly welcoming people on unceded Algonquin territory.

She does so because her late grandfather, William Commanda, reminded her in December 2010 before his death that she had a responsibility to be a leader, to educate the people.

“He said ‘you’re going to do this’ and I said ‘I don’t know how I am going to this, gramps.’ He said ‘you’ll see. You will.’ And it all fell into place,” said Commanda.

Part of this means being kind and welcoming.

“You’re on Algonquin territory. You need to know who the people of this land are,” she said. “To me it’s always about education. It’s always about building bridges … building relationships that are built on the foundation of respect and how you build that respect is kind words and being inclusive.

“But also at the same time to ensure, yes, I may extend this hand to you in kindness. Yes, I may invite you into my home. Yes, I may invite you into my people’s territory, but don’t forget you can’t walk over me either.”

Catch Commanda’s full interview with host Todd Lamirande tonight (Thursday) at 630 p.m. ET.

The N2N panel also discusses Trudeau’s list of priorities made in his mandate letters to cabinet ministers.

“I think it’s in Carolyn Bennett’s mandate letter is the creation of a national treaty commissioner office, so I mean when we talk about promises made … I think Indigenous people would take this with a grain of salt,” said Veldon Coburn, an associate professor at the University of Ottawa. “Even in reflection of the last four years, the previous parliamentary session of this past government, is that ideas of reconciliation have been lofty, a great deal of letdown, disappointment from this particular government in terms of substantive moves and policy, especially towards the discrimination of Indigenous children.”

Nation to Nation returns on Jan. 9 with a new show.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.


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