Hon. Marty Klyne: Honourable senators, earlier today Senator Francis and I had the pleasure of attending and sponsoring Advancing Economic Reconciliation on Parliament Hill, a conference organized in partnership with the National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association and the First Nations Bank of Canada. The goal of the conference was to discuss how we can further advance economic reconciliation in Canada.
The conference brought together Indigenous leaders, businesses and economic development organizations to share their wisdom and success stories. Senator Francis and I were pleased to see many of our Senate colleagues and the Interim Clerk of the Senate and Clerk of the Parliaments present for the conference. We heard stories from coast to coast to coast, and I’m grateful to everyone who participated. Indigenous businesses are thriving in our nation of nations, and it is important that we share their stories and experiences not just with each other, but with all Canadians.
As we all know, governments and elected representatives speak often on reconciliation, particularly about upholding rights and addressing injustices. Economic reconciliation itself isn’t always top of mind, but it is a topic that deserves closer attention. We cannot achieve true reconciliation until Indigenous peoples are empowered to take advantage of their full economic potential, and we will not move forward as a country unless all people in Canada have access to equitable opportunities to prosper.
The time is past due for Indigenous peoples to reclaim their full economic power. Senators already know that this is a topic that is close to my heart. Last month, I launched an inquiry aimed at celebrating and calling attention to successful Indigenous-led businesses. Since then, several senators from across the country have spoken and shared stories from their regions, and I look forward to hearing more senators speak soon.
Colleagues, the path to reconciliation must include economic reconciliation. I am thankful to the National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association and the First Nations Bank of Canada for partnering with us on today’s conference and for helping to remind us of that message. I encourage all Canadians to think about how they can help advance economic reconciliation in their home communities; whether it’s by supporting a local Indigenous-led business, encouraging governments to work closely with Indigenous partners or simply by being a friend and ally, we can all be a part of making Canada a more inclusive and prosperous place for everyone.