Changes at Indigenous & Northern Affairs Canada a Step Forward?
Prince George, B.C. – Ellis Ross, Skeena Liberal MLA and former chief councillor for the Haisla Nation, says it’s too soon to say whether this week’s shake up at Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada is a step forward for First Nations in Canada.
On Monday, the ministry was replaced by two new departments: a ministry of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs (to be headed up by Carolyn Bennet) and a Department of Indigenous Services (to be led by Jane Philpott).
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the goal is to help create better relations with First Nations in Canada.
“You know it all depends on whether they’re talking about putting First Nations in a position where First Nations can help themselves. If not, it’s all just talk,” he says.
He adds: “If they’re trying to fix basic living conditions and the outlook of First Nations then they’ve got to think about including First Nations in economic activities.”
Ross says the change is “not a surprise,” noting it’s been “talked about for years.” But he warns that any significant changes will have to come from outside government.
“The answer’s got to be talking with project developers who have developed their own economies and if government can help out in terms of capacity or any other means, great. But government can’t fix it all. They can’t do it.”