Bill C-5—Consideration of Subject Matter in Committee of the Whole—Senator Francis

By: The Hon. Brian Francis

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Senator Francis: Welcome, Minister Guilbeault. Thank you for being here today to assist us in the prompt passage of Bill C-5. The history and legacy of the residential schools have been brought to light because of the strength, courage and determination of survivors. We cannot forget that it was because of them that the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, which is the largest class-action settlement in Canadian history to date, happened. That led to some financial compensation, an official apology and the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. As a result, it is important to me and many others that all the special events and ceremonies happening on the national day for truth and reconciliation are guided by the voices and experiences of survivors and their families and communities.

I would like to know how the government, and specifically the department, will be involving survivors in the planning, promotion and execution of the new national day for truth and reconciliation.

Mr. Guilbeault: Thank you, senator, for your question. I think it is important for us as a government to remember that this healing process must be guided and led by Indigenous peoples in this country. I really see our role as that of partners to accompany and support initiatives that are Indigenous-led.

I’ve spoken — and I won’t go through that again — about how we are already providing financial support for Indigenous organizations across the country through an existing funding program. Budget 2021 will allow us, more specifically on the truth and reconciliation day, to have substantially more resources for Indigenous organizations who want to take a more proactive role or, in many cases, who have been very proactive and want to do more in terms of awareness and education on this important day.

Senator Francis: Thank you for that, minister. It would be very helpful if you or your officials could tell us about the progress made and under way toward the implementation of Calls to Action 79 to 83 concerning the public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools.

Mr. Guilbeault: I know we have with us some colleagues from CIRNA. As you know, Canadian Heritage is responsible for some parts of this, but I would defer to our colleagues from CIRNA for the other Calls to Action, please.

Mandy McCarthy, Director, Policy, Planning and Reporting, Settlement Agreements and Childhood Claims Branch, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada: Thank you, minister. Unfortunately, I can commit to coming back to you with a written response. Call to Action 79 falls under the responsibility of Parks Canada.

Senator Francis: Thank you for that. I have no further questions.

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