Whether you’re interested in politics (the drama, the intrigue!), looking for ways to dismantle settler-colonial-hetero-patriarchy, or just confused about what politicians ACTUALLY do all day, Policy Forecast is here for you!
With each season, CRE’s Centre for Indigenous Policy and Research will bring you a new edition of Policy Forecast recapping everything you need to know about what’s going on in Canadian policy when it comes to Indigenous rights, community, and reconciliation.
This edition of CRE’s Policy Forecast contains content about violence and the child welfare system that may be triggering.
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Highlights from this issue include:
- Black and Indigenous solidarity,
- Child Welfare Services,
- and O’Toole Ousted.
Community-Building & Solidarity
> AN AFRO-INDIGENOUS COMMUNITY ARCHIVE: Ciann Wilson, a professor at Wilfrid Laurier University (WLU) in Waterloo, has been documenting Afro-Indigenous stories in Canada through vlogs and videos. The Proclaiming Our Roots project is designed to explore, highlight, and honor “the histories, realities, stories and experiences of people who are of African diasporic and Indigenous ancestry, and who reside on Turtle Island” (from Proclaiming Our Roots, About Us). Ciann is of Afro, Indo, and Euro- Jamaican ancestry and teaches Community Psychology at WLU. Read an interview with her about the project here.
> BUILDING RADICAL KINSHIP: In Northern Ontario, filmmaker Isak Vaillancourt is creating a documentary exploring the ways that Black and Indigenous struggles both overlap and diverge in so-called Canada. Vaillancourt’s Collective Resistance seeks to unsettle the Indigenous and European-settler binary in order to foster radical kinship and a deeper mutual understanding of Black-Indigenous struggles. Visit his fundraising campaign to learn more and see a trailer for the documentary.
> VIOLA DESMOND CHALLENGING ANTI-BLACK DISCRIMINATION: November 8, 2021 marked the 75th anniversary of Viola Desmond challenging discrimination by refusing to leave a segregated area of the Roseland Theatre in New Glascow, Nova Scotia. Viola was jailed and fined for her stand, and through the tireless work of her sister, Wanda Robson, was pardoned in 2010, 45 years after her death. In the years following, she was designated a national historic person by the Government of Canada, and became the first Canadian woman and first Black Canadian to be featured on a bank note.
> PM’S STATEMENT ON BLACK HISTORY MONTH: At the start of February, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a statement to mark Black History Month. Within this statement, the Prime Minister discussed the federal government’s commitment to combatting anti-Black racism, Canada’s National Anti-Racism Strategy, and the need to learn more about Black history in Canada.
Truth & Reconciliation
> COMPENSATION & REFORM: After decades of advocacy and court battles, the Government of Canada has finally agreed to pay $20 billion in compensation to First Nations people who experienced discrimination through the underfunding of child and family services on reserve and in the Yukon. Another $19.8 billion has been committed to reforming the programs, but the agreement is not final. Read more here and register for updates here.
> WATER IS LIFE: Neskantaga First Nation is looking to the federal government to find a way of properly disposing of plastic water bottles which they rely upon as a source of safe drinking water. The community has been under a boil water advisory for 27 years, with no foreseeable end date. In the last federal budget, $560 million over seven years was put aside for waste management projects in First Nations communities, however there is currently no plan to address plastic waste. Read more here about Neskantaga, their boil water advisory, and the discussion on plastic waste.
> WET’SUWET’EN STRONG: On February 7, Gidimt’en land defenders submitted a brief to the United Nations Human Rights Council to call out the Government of Canada for the land rights violations that have been ongoing in the territory since 2019. The submission details all the ways that the federal government’s actions are in direct conflict with several UNDRIP articles as the Coastal GasLink project continues to be forced through Wet’suwet’en territory.
> #JUSTICEFORCOLTEN: February 9 marked the National Day of Action for #JusticeForColten, a day that marks the ongoing need for criminal justice reform. The Boushie-Baptiste family and a team of Indigenous and non-Indigenous advocates, academics, advisors, and family members published this toolkit to support Indigenous families of victims of violence.
> SPECIAL CHIEF’S ASSEMBLY: In December, AFN held its Special Chief’s Assembly which included remarks from PM Trudeau, debate of 20 policy resolutions, and the establishment of a 2SLGBTQ council. Read more about the assembly here.
> JUSTICE FOR INDIGENOUS WOMEN: Responding to new data about the mass incarceration of Indigenous women, Senators Michele Audette, Margaret Dawn Anderson, Yvonne Boyer, Mobina Jaffer, and Kim Pate released a statement about the need for serious criminal justice reform Indigenous women in prison. The Senators used the statement to call for amendments to Bill C-5 to better respond to the clear discrimination.
At Parliament Hill
> O’TOOLE OUSTED: In a secret ballot held earlier in February, the Conservative Party of Canada voted Erin O’Toole out of his position as party leader. Current and former Conservative MPs pointed to the Party losing seats during the 2021 Election, and O’Toole’s positions on things such as carbon pricing and conversion therapy as reasons for voting him out. Candice Bergen, of Manitoba’s Portage-Lisgar riding, will be acting as interim leader and O’Toole will remain the Member of Parliament for Durham, Ontario.
> THRONE SPEECH & CABINET SELECTION: In October 2021, the re-elected Liberal government announced the new Cabinet selection, with Patty Hajdu taking on the role of Minister of Indigenous Services, and Marc Miller moving to Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations. Mary Simon, Governor General of Canada, then delivered the Speech from the Throne, outlining the government’s goals for this session of Parliament. In the Speech, Simon outlined priorities such as climate action, reconciliation, and resiliency through COVID-19. Listen to the Speech from the Throne here.
> A NEW GREEN LEADER: In November 2021, the Green Party named Dr. Amita Kuttner as their interim leader, who will hold the role until the party’s next leadership election. Kuttner is an astrophysicist, a non-profit founder, and the first transgender and East Asian federal party leader, as well as being the youngest person to lead a federal party.
What we’re reading
- YELLOWHEAD – UNDRIP AND URBAN INDIGENOUS SOVEREIGNTY: Check out this piece by Kanatase Horn on the need for urban Indigenous involvement in the creation of a National Action Plan to address the distinct needs of Indigenous folks.
- BLACK AND INDIGENOUS SOLIDARITY: This article by Luam Kidane and Jarrett Martineau discusses the shared struggles of Black and Indigenous folks, and highlights the need for decolonization.
- DISABILITY JUSTICE & GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE: Check out this piece by Dr. Jessica Wright on consent and collective care. In this article, Dr. Wright discusses the relationship between gender-based violence prevention and the principles of disability justice.
- CELEBRATING AFRO-INDIGENOUS RELATIVES: Take a look at this Instagram post from @amrpodast shared on Martin Luther King Day (US) which highlights some Afro-Indigenous creators and knowledge keepers to check out!
What we’re listening to
- BLACK INDIGENOUS IDENTITY IN CANADA: Check out this episode of The Henceforward, exploring Black-Indigenous and Afro-Indigenous identity erasure in Canada.
- MARVIN’S ROOM: On CBC, Marvin’s Room celebrated Black History Month by exploring the social-changing power of anger and rage at racial injustice through the medium of music.
- ALL MY RELATIONS ON RECONNECTING: In this episode of All My Relations, guests discuss their journey of reconnecting to their communities, and the effects of colonization on community connection.
- SIX YEARS OF THE TRC CALLS TO ACTION: MediaINDIGENA spoke with Eva Jewell (Yellowhead Institute, X University professor) and Ian Mosby (X University professor) in this podcast episode on the state of reconciliation in Canada – how are we doing now compared to 2019? Listen to the episode here.
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.