Successive governments have failed to fully acknowledge and address the intergenerational harm and trauma on Indigenous peoples from Canada’s colonial history and its legacy of dislocation, land theft, residential schools, and genocide. Indigenous peoples today continue to face systemic racism in the healthcare, education, and justice systems, as well as discrimination in key areas such as housing and employment. Too many Indigenous communities still do not have reliable access to cleaning drinking water. Violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLBTQIA+ people is so bad that the National Inquiry called it a genocide.

Implementing Indigenous rights need to be at the heart of everything that we do.

Indigenous leaders and advocates have already given us frameworks to work towards meaningful reconciliation. We must implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, all Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and all Calls for Justice from the National Inquiry’s Final Report. We must bridge the housing, education, health, resource and access gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. We must ensure Indigenous communities have the adequate resources to give meaningful free, informed and prior consent to resource development projects and decisions that impact Indigenous peoples. There is no time to waste.

IN THE NEWS: Hill Times - New House set to return as Liberal government faces unfinished legislative business with potential NDP ally

IN THE NEWS: Hill Times - New House set to return as Liberal government faces unfinished legislative business with potential NDP ally

Ms. Kwan, who insisted that the NDP will press the Liberal government hard to move on a myriad of issues starting with seniors who received the Canada Emergency Response Benefit during the pandemic and who have now either seen their Guaranteed Income Supplement payments reduced or lost leaving some of them unable to pay rent.

“Housing affordability is a paramount issue—whether it’s someone who is homeless or those trying to get into the market for the first time,” said Ms. Kwan, the NDP’s housing critic.
She explained that the affordability issue touches health care too, where one of her constituents recently told her of being unable to cover the cost of cancer medication—a shining example, in Ms. Kwan’s view, of why her party will continue to press the Liberal government on universal pharmacare.

The Liberals will have an eager and unrelenting ally in the New Democrats to pursue action in addressing “the climate crisis before us,” said Ms. Kwan, a former NDP cabinet minister in British Columbia. “Canada has yet to meet a COP target since Paris in 2015.”

In her opinion, she said Mr. Trudeau also missed an opportunity to advance reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous peoples this year by both vacationing in Tofino, B.C. on the country’s first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (Sept. 30), and later by his government filing an appeal of a Federal Court decision upholding a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling on Indigenous child-welfare compensation, while continuing to negotiate an out-of-court settlement.

In her role as federal NDP critic for immigration, refugees and citizenship, Ms. Kwan has another issue she will hammer home when the House resumes sitting.   “Immigration is in complete chaos right now. The backlog for every stream is mind boggling,” she explained.

“There was already a backlog before the pandemic, and with the pandemic, immigration processing was severely debilitated. Amidst all of that, the Liberals decided to call an election on the day [Aug. 15] when there was a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.”

IN THE NEWS: Globe & Mail - Trudeau flies to Tofino for a vacation with family as Canada marks first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

IN THE NEWS: Globe & Mail - Trudeau flies to Tofino for a vacation with family as Canada marks first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh attended a local event in Vancouver. Mr. Singh went to the Orange Shirt Day walk and ceremony, outside of the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre, along with NDP MPs Jenny Kwan, Don Davies, Peter Julian and MP-elect Bonita Zarrillo. Orange Shirt Day, which also falls on Sept. 30, is a commemorative day to honour Indigenous children who survived residential schools and remember those who did not.

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Jenny Kwan, the NDP MP for Vancouver East, said the rising violence against Asian Canadians, as well as the terrorist attack on the Afzaal family, reflects deep-seated issues within the country.
“People always say when those incidents occur that, ‘This is not our Canada,’ ” Kwan told the Straight by phone. “Well, I’m sorry, this is our Canada. And this is not the first time the Muslim community has suffered such a violent and unspeakable attack for being who they are.”
The next bombshell raising questions about Canada’s commitment to equality came on June 15 when Nunavut NDP MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq delivered a scathing farewell speech in Parliament.  The Inuk politician talked about everything from being racially profiled by House of Commons security staff to the lack of government action in response to the high rate of suicide among her people.
According to Kwan, Qaqqaq said out loud what many Indigenous peoples and Inuit have always felt.  Kwan suggested that every time the government brags about its work, it’s insulting to someone like Qaqqaq, who is watching members of her own community suffer immensely, including taking their own lives, because of Canada’s colonial history.
“I think this Canada Day, we need to reflect on, first and foremost, Canada’s colonization history and the ongoing impact for Indigenous peoples, especially with the finding of the mass graves in Kamloops,” the Vancouver NDP MP added.
IN THE NEWS: CBC - ‘The fault of Canada: Trudeau addresses Commons on discovery of remains at B.C. residential school

IN THE NEWS: CBC - ‘The fault of Canada: Trudeau addresses Commons on discovery of remains at B.C. residential school

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said he and many Canadians reacted with "horror at what had happened to these children."
"We as a nation saw people around the country continue to hold memorials to reflect on this horror, to reflect on what this means," Singh said.  "What it means very clearly is these residential schools were not schools; they were institutions designed to eradicate and eliminate Indigenous people. They were institutions that were designed to perpetuate a genocide."
Several NDP MPs pressed that point. Jenny Kwan, MP for Vancouver East, urged Pam Damoff, the parliamentary secretary to the minister of indigenous services, to adopt the word "genocide" in reference to residential schools.
"In order to move forward on closure and to honour the children and the lives that's been lost, we must also accept and acknowledge and admit that this was genocide," Kwan said. "Will the member call this a genocide and not a cultural genocide but genocide as defined by the UN convention on genocide?"

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