NDP MP’s Gord Johns and Romeo Saganash joined Tofino mayor Josie Osborne at June 25’s event.

NDP’s Gord Johns visits Tofino to support bill for Indigenous rights

A bill put forward by MP Romeo Saganash would ensure laws are in line with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

  • Jul. 4, 2016 8:00 p.m.

NORA O’MALLEY

nora.omalley@westerlynews.ca

In a public discussion held at Tofino’s Eagle Aerie Gallery on June 25, NDP MP Gord Johns called on locals to support a bill put forward by MP Romeo Saganash that would ensure Canadian laws are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Saganash first introduced Bill-262 in the House of Commons on April 21, 2016. He asked the Liberal government if they were prepared to support the bill.

“They skated around my question. I never got an answer. That’s why it’s called a question period. You never get answers,” Saganash joked lightheartedly.

Saganash, who represents the NDP Northern Quebec riding of Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, was unclear as to why the Liberals did not support the bill outright.

“Maybe they are working on their own bill,” he said. “My priority is to get it through. If they want it, they can have it.”

According to Saganash, if Bill C-262 were adopted it would provide the legislative framework for a national reconciliation.

According to Saganash, if Bill C-262 were adopted it would provide the legislative framework for a national reconciliation.

Adopting the bill would also entail the government to take all the measures necessary to ensure that Canadian laws are inline with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

“I’m getting overwhelming support from indigenous communities throughout the country and non-indigenous communities,” said Saganash.

Mayor Josie Osborne said she was grateful that Saganash chose the Clayoquot region as the place to launch the western chapter of his Call To Take Action tour. 

“As the chair of the regional district for the last couple of years, we’ve been undertaking a series of activities around increasing our awareness and understanding Nuu-chah-nulth history and exploring what reconciliation means to us as the local government,” said Osborne.

“We’ve done a number of very moving workshops with different leaders and last Monday, for the first time we really dug into the truth and reconciliation commission findings and explored what the UN Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples is and means and what we as a local government can do,” she said.   

Johns encouraged locals to take action.

“Write letters and sign Romeo’s petition. I think it’s a really important message to share. There’s nothing that prevents the chamber of commerce or the mayor or the district to write a letter to the prime minister. Or when he comes to visit, maybe bring it up in conversation,” said Johns.

For the summer months, Saganash will be visiting Indigenous communities across Canada to lead discussions around the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. He is also planning on launching an online petition for Bill C-262.

 

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