In May of 2008 a Senator, Aurélien Gill, an elder and former chief of the Montagnais, introduced a private Member’s bill in the Senate. This bill proposed to introduce a third House, an
assembly for aboriginal people, into the parliamentary system of Canada.
Senator Gill believed that such a third Chamber would give the aboriginal people of Canada a voice in political decision-making. This idea has history. The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples recommends the introduction of an aboriginal parliamentary act. The concept of an Assembly for aboriginal people was also discussed in the Constitution negotiations in the Charlottetown Accord.
Mr. Speaker, the intent of these recommendations, the intention of a private Member’s bill, is to involve aboriginal people in the country’s affairs and particularly in affairs that affect the aboriginal people themselves.
Please allow me to make this connection to the North. Over the life of the 16th Assembly I have
repeatedly promoted the need for an elders’ council. I have spoken to the need for the federal government to get out of the Big Brother role and allow us, as Northern people, to make our own decisions where our lives and our livelihoods are concerned.
I spoke about the model that Nunavut has adopted by establishing a permanent advisory council to get input from elders on traditional knowledge. This concerns the business we have in the Northwest Territories. We need to make connections between the past, with our traditions, and the future, by younger generations. We need a vision on how to deal with the land and the animals and how we make our living in our communities in the Northwest Territories. We need the full participation of aboriginal people and elders in the decision-making process that will shape our future.
Setting up an advisory council will ensure that traditional culture and the values of our people are reflected in government business. We need to ensure that the evolution of the Northwest Territories has a strong base in traditional knowledge and values and the wisdom of our elders is carried on through our policies and regulations.
Mr. Speaker, recently in the Sahtu we lost more elders to death due to natural causes. Each time we bury our elders, we lose our culture, our values and our history, and sadly, we’re not putting that into our decision-making in this government for us to carry through.
Mr. Speaker, I will be asking questions of the appropriate Minister at the appropriate time. Thank you.