Leaders say time is now for government to act on Indigenous priorities

Indigenous organizations are weighing in on Tuesday’s speech from the throne.


The Liberals have highlighted Indigenous priorities in past speeches from the throne and this week’s was no different.

But what is different is after years of waiting for promises to be delivered, Indigenous organizations are expressing their impatience with the Trudeau government.

They say the time to act is now.

Continuing on the path of reconciliation, acting on recommendations from the  National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG), and providing support for residential school survivors were all mentioned in Governor General Mary Simon’s first throne speech Tuesday.

Themes the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) has heard before.

Assembly of First Nations

AFN National Chief Roseanne Archibald said the government blueprint for the upcoming session of Parliament lacked the necessary urgency to deal with issues Indigenous people want immediate action on.

“I just felt like given the circumstances that we’re in – you know with the atmosphere and the recovery of our little ones and a lot of the things that are happening right now – that there would be stronger language in the throne speech and it would be more action oriented,” she said

“Because that is what I have been asking for as national chief since I started, is enough with words and empty promises and apologies.”

Native Women’s Association of Canada CEO Lynn Groulx said the government continues to say the right things when it comes to Indigenous priorities.

But the details are sparse when it comes to actually reaching the goals.

“There was a high-level speech delivered with not a lot of detail. So it’s difficult for us to assess really what they’re intending in all of these areas,” she said.

“The shopping list includes MMIWG, there are mental health strategies, it just goes on and on. But our concern, as it’s always been, it comes to what’s actually going to happen when the rubber hits the road?

“What are they actually going to do? Are they going to have the resources to do this?”

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami

The president of Canada’s national Inuit organization credits the government for its unprecedented funding of Indigenous priorities.

But Natan Obed of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami said it’s time for the prime minister to act.

“There is still a lot to do,” he said.

“If we heard anything in the last six months or so, from the unmarked gravesites discoveries to the first National Day of Truth and Reconciliation – and the prime minister’s approach to that particular day – it’s that Canada needs this prime minister, Prime Minister Trudeau, to take an active leadership approach to the reconciliation file.”

The Trudeau government has said it plans to pass legislation banning conversion therapy, set greenhouse gas emission targets, and provide further pandemic supports – all before Christmas.

But where Indigenous priorities mentioned in the throne speech would fit into this timeframe was not revealed.

Fraser spent the last 20 years working in both print and radio in Saskatchewan – mostly in the northern part of the province. Before joining APTN’s Ottawa bureau, he was news director for the Missinipi Broadcasting Corporation working out of their Prince Albert office. He holds a bachelor of arts degree in political science from Carleton University and a diploma of journalism from Algonquin College.