For immediate release
December 6, 2019

Treaty One Territory, Winnipeg, MB – Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. (MKO) is issuing this statement in response to the 43rd Speech from the Throne, which was shared in Ottawa on
December 5, 2019.

The speech has four major themes, two of which are “Fighting Climate Change” and “Walking the Road of Reconciliation.”

Grand Chief Garrison Settee shares this statement in response to the speech:

“It’s promising that the Canadian government is recognizing climate change as a major concern. We know that climate change is already impacting the North, with shorter seasons for winter roads and longer seasons for wildfires. These are just two of the impacts Northern residents are facing due to a changing climate. I urge policy makers to keep Indigenous knowledge front and center when developing policies and programs to fight climate change as our knowledge keepers know what our communities need to be healthy. This knowledge has been passed onto us for generations.

In terms of reconciliation, I am also pleased to see that the government will continue to work towards ending long-term water advisories. Having access to clean drinking water is a basic human right and ensuring that our First Nations have access to safe water is essential if we are going to walk on a path towards reconciliation.

The Speech from the Throne says that the government will provide equitable funding for kindergarten to grade 12 education and will continue to affirm Indigenous jurisdiction over child and family services—it is essential that this government recognize that we are re-affirming our jursidiction over child and family matters as sovereign First Nations.

The speech also says the government will work to complete the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. I hope this means the government is committed to implementing the 231 Calls for Justice that were shared in the final report from the National Inquiry.

The Nation-Crown Treaty relationship must recognize and provide a better pathway to MKO’s inherent right to self-determination. There needs to be a non-partisan approach to developing and introducing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples during the 43rd session of Parliament.

I am calling for a Northern roundtable in MKO Territory to bring together Northern First Nation leaders and federal cabinet ministers. Any legislation or policy must use a co-development approach with Northern rights holders having a seat at every negotiating table.

I am encouraging all political parties to stand with us to honour the commitments and promises to the people of the North.”

You can find the full text of the Speech from the Throne online here.