Ministerial Question Period: First Nations National Guardians Network

By: The Hon. Michèle Audette

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Hon. Michèle Audette: Minister, I, too, am a proud Innu, Quebec and, to a small degree, Labradorian senator.

Last week, the government participated in the launch of the First Nations National Guardians Network, whose goal is to share expertise and knowledge, in particular about conservation carried out by and for Indigenous communities.

In your view, minister, how can Indigenous guardians support the key elements of your department’s mandate with respect to resource development planning and forest fire management?

Hon. Jonathan Wilkinson, P.C., M.P., Minister of Natural Resources: Thank you, senator. I believe the event you’re talking about is COP15, the 15th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. I was there. It was organized in collaboration with the communities, as you said, and with me, the Minister of Natural Resources. I was there for the beginning of this very important conference.

We set up a process to discuss a framework that would enable us to examine the benefits of natural resource development projects, and we are working on that with Indigenous peoples, meaning the Inuit, Métis and First Nations. We need to have those conversations and get their agreement.

I am fully committed to making sure we talk about economic reconciliation, not just services and governance. We have to talk about economic reconciliation so that these communities can have the resources they need to support their people. That is very important.

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