CRE’s Policy Forecast is a monthly roundup of what’s happening in policy – whether that’s at the grassroots or parliamentary level – and how it could impact you, your community, your politics, and your activism.
Highlights from this issue include;
- Land Defence in Nunavut,
- Key votes in Parliament,
- The connection between systemic racism in health care and vaccine hesitancy in Indigenous communities,
- Plus, we highlight a fantastic collection of Black-Indigenous solidarity resources.
This month at the Baffinland Mary River mine site, the Nuluujaat Land Guardians set up a blockade in defense of the waters and lands around the mine’s proposed expansion.
In response, a “sizeable minority” of workers currently stranded at the mine issued a statement supporting “the efforts, means and goals” of the blockade. In the letter, the workers expressed their support for the “the efforts, means and goals” of the defense and “recognize[d] the Inuit as the rightful custodians of this land, and as the people who should make the decisions about how it is used”.
The blockade has since ended so that the land defenders could meet with Inuit leadership through Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. and the Qikiqtani Inuit Association.
Criminal Justice Reform:
This week, the Liberal government tabled Bill C-22, which would end mandatory minimum sentences for some drug offences and would also require the police and the courts to consider alternatives to possession charges, such as sending people facing charges to addiction treatment programs. It also creates space for wider use of conditional sentences (such as house arrest) for people who are not violent.
The Government has said that this legislation is one of several approaches they are taking to try and address systemic racism in the criminal justice system.
Policy experts in harm reduction and criminal justice reform are generally in favour of removing mandatory minimum criminal sentences, but say the Bill doesn’t go far enough in protecting people from overdose and reducing interactions between the police and people dealing with addictions, who police are typically not trained to interact with.
At Committee: In the House of Commons this month, the Standing Committee on the Status of Women is studying the impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Women while the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs continues to study food security in northern communities and supporting Indigenous communities through a second wave of COVID-19.
Click the links to read, watch, or listen to what witnesses are recommending to the government on these issues.
Content warning: anti-Indigenous racism & health care
While vaccine strategies are varying from province to province, Indigenous Services Canada has stated that vaccinations are underway in 400 Indigenous communities. You can find regular updates here.
Minister Miller has stated that the vaccination rate is currently six times higher in Indigenous communities than in the rest of the population, even while vaccine hesitancy remains an issue in many communities due to systemic racism in health care systems and the resulting lack of trust.
On that note, Cree-Anishnaabe physician Dr. Marcia Anderson gave an interview to APTN outlining community concerns and acknowledging vaccine hesitancy as one of the long-term consequences of decades of systemic racism in the health care system.
- Canadaland host Jesse Brown passed the mic to Anishnaabe podcaster and comedian Ryan McMahon, Inuk documentarian Alethea Arnaquq-Baril, and Inuk seal hunter Stephen Lonsdale to talk about Indigeneity and the ethics of storytelling.
- Media Indigena posted an episode about how Canada’s reworking of medically-assisted dying laws could impact Indigenous communities.
Talking about identity and who belongs…is an incredibly painful conversation for a lot of Indigenous people […] Family connections are broken through colonialism, all over this country.Alethia Arnaquq-Baril
Tools & Resources
- This collection of anti-racism and solidarities resources contains information about land acknowledgements, education resources, music breaks, articles, and videos on everything from defunding the police to unpacking internalized colonialism.
What did you think of this issue of CRE’s Policy Forecast? Send your feedback, ideas for future topics, and/or podcast suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interested in Policy? Check out our Indigenous Youth Policy Hackathon