National Indigenous Peoples Day

By: The Hon. Marty Klyne

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Hon. Marty Klyne: Honourable senators, I rise to share two stories in celebration of National Indigenous Peoples Day.

First, I wish to pay tribute to the late Harry Daniels, a proud Métis. Harry was recently honoured by Canada Post with a commemorative stamp that highlights his contributions to Indigenous history.

He was, perhaps, most well known for his part in the constitutional negotiations that defined Canadian politics in the 1980s. Daniels was a fierce advocate for the rights of the Métis, and he fought to ensure that Métis were included in the constitutional definition of “aboriginal peoples.”

This was no small task. He clashed with then justice minister Jean Chrétien, who at first refused Daniels’ demands. But Harry’s fierce advocacy and persistent nature eventually persuaded Chrétien and then Prime Minister Trudeau to include the Métis. That decision changed the relationship between the Métis and the federal government.

I want to express my appreciation to Canada Post for honouring Harry with this tribute and for asking me to speak at last week’s ceremony in Regina. This was a significant event for Regina Beach and our extended family. Harry was my mother’s cousin, and because he was 17 years my senior, he was, and always will be, Uncle Harry to me.

These commemorative stamps tell stories, and I think that connects Canada Post with Indigenous peoples, as it is our tradition to connect generations by passing down our knowledge through storytelling.

I’d like to share another story, one that highlights another fight for justice. I recently watched a film called I’m Not An Indian, directed by R. J. Maloney in partnership with Jake Dockstator, a creator on the film.

The documentary tells the story of the late Chief Orville Smoke, leader of the Dakota Plains First Nation. It’s a powerful story of uncomfortable truths and tragic and dreadful consequences, but there are also elements of hope.

The documentary is available on Crave, and although the subject matter deals with sorrowful and tragic events, I challenge my colleagues in this chamber to watch it this summer before September 30, 2022, when Canada marks the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

Chief Smoke and Harry Daniels fought hard to better the lives of Indigenous peoples. Their legacies are not just their accomplishments but also the path they paved for future generations. We must remember their stories, and we must tell their stories so they are not forgotten.

Thank you. Hiy kitatamîhin.

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