“I commit to you that the Government of Canada will walk with you on a path of true reconciliation, in partnership and friendship.”
So vowed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as he donned the traditional headdress accompanying honorary membership in the Tsuut’ina Nation earlier this month. The ceremony, held near Calgary, Alberta, involved over 100 Treaty Chiefs from across Canada.
Trudeau was also awarded the name Gumistiyi, “The One Who Keeps Trying.” As evidenced by the government’s inquiry into murdered and missing aboriginal women, as well as last week’s budget, which directs billions in new funding toward indigenous communities, Trudeau is indeed trying to signal a new federal relationship with Canada’s indigenous citizens.
As the prime minister claimed, there was no relationship “more important to me and to Canada” than the one involving “First Nations, the Métis Nation, and the Inuit.”
In the budget released last Tuesday by Finance Minister Bill Morneau, $8.4 billion has been earmarked over the next five years, in phases, for infrastructure, health and education initiatives.
Declaring the new investment “historic,” Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde claimed the new funding will be a “very significant step” in improving the quality of life “for our people.”
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