Reconciliation council bill not ‘co-developed’ with Inuit, ITK president says

Obed not endorsing legislation; announces new cooperation principles with Ottawa

ITK president Natan Obed speaks at a press conference Friday outside the House of Commons as Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Marc Miller listens. (Photo by Jeff Pelletier)

By Jeff Pelletier - Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami president Natan Obed says a federal bill to establish a national council for reconciliation was not “co-developed” with Inuit, and is not endorsed by his organization.

Bill C-29 passed unanimously in the House of Commons Thursday and is now in the hands of the Senate. It would create a national council for reconciliation “an independent, non-political, permanent and Indigenous-led organization” to advance reconciliation with Indigenous peoples,” the bill’s text states.

This bill follows one of the 94 calls to action in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 2015 report.

“The processes that the Government of Canada has used to come to the space where they had the first iteration of the bill were not co-developed with Inuit,” Obed said in a Friday morning press conference on Parliament Hill.

“If this piece of legislation was co-developed from 2017 or 2018, when the first considerations of this bill were discussed, I don’t believe that we’d be in this scenario where we’d have to talk about it.”

Obed was speaking alongside Marc Miller, the federal Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations, in front of the House of Commons.

Miller sponsored Bill C-29 when it was first introduced in June. Despite Obed being critical of some aspects of the legislation, Miller showed some understanding and said he’d be open to improvements in the next phase of the legislative process.

“We will certainly be open to any reasonable amendments in the Senate,” Miller said.

Obed and Miller were speaking Friday to announce a list of Inuit and Crown Co-development Principles.

Meant to inform federal legislation and policies, the principles include themes of collaboration, protecting and respecting Inuit rights, and working in good faith.

“They will set the guidelines, very much so, for how we develop legislation,” Miller said.

Obed said he hopes to see the principles inform future legislation as policies in Inuit Nunangat continue to be tabled in the future.

“This is, I think, a good moment in time to also show that despite the challenges that we may have in positions, from time to time, that it in no way is ending our relationship or slowing down the work that we do together,” Obed said.

Lori Idlout, the NPD MP for Nunavut and a member of the House of Commons’ Indigenous and Northern Affairs committee, said she was surprised by ITK’s position on C-29. While the bill was in the going through the house, Obed spoke to that committee specifically on that legislation.

Regardless, Idlout said that she welcomes principles that improve Inuit relations with the government, and she would welcome “reasonable amendments” to C-29 in the Senate.

“Expectations on the council will be high,” Idlout said in an interview.

“It will be important to continue to hear how the bill can be improved.”

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(14) Comments:

  1. Posted by Pork Pie on

    Obed is just ticked he didn’t get the share of limelight he believes is owed him.

    Are you opposed to the Bill because of Council design, Natan? Or because no one asked you?

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    • Posted by Monkey Soup on

      It is a common federal strategy to lump all the “natives” into one table. This makes their ability to advocate for their group that much harder as the three indigenous groups recognized in Canada have a diverse set of needs, with Inuit having probably the most unique. The loftier the goal, the easier for government to tie credit and funding to it while also having speculative accountability. For example, “ensure indigenous people feel valued” is a universal promise government might make at this new council. But how do we ensure they deliver? On the other hand you could secure a commitment to fund a new long term care in X community. If it doesn’t happen fast enough there are political consequences. Also if the table is too broad there may be competition interests among indigenous groups that mean the government sits back and watches the show.

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      • Posted by Forever Amazed on

        So, what is your point?

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  2. Posted by Shawn on

    The public housing system was not (co-developed) with Inuit… same thing with jobs.

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    • Posted by Nor are… on

      Guns were not made with the consideration of Inuit but you use them I know you use them as I know who you are, Shawn.

      Snowmobiles were not made with Inuit considerations in mind and all these snow machines are built to work from California to the arctic. Did they consider the Inuit when designing them?

      Doesn’t stop your use of them, now does it?

      Or how about TV’s they sure didn’t expect you to move that TV by quad and break it so you could blame someone else for what you did.

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      • Posted by C. M. on

        Something to divide us as in divide and conquer a world where the rich get richer and all the while we trade insults in their trail of dust.

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      • Posted by shawn on

        im not talking about guns or broken TVs, thats not important. im talking about public housing and jobs. you are probably the one that broke the TV anyway. get left and go!

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    • Posted by Northern Guy on

      Shawn this has to be one of the dumbest thing I have read today. Not sure how you would go about developing jobs consultatively so I am all ears. Jobs are jobs their requirements are established based on organizational need and necessary expertice (e.g. jobs in medicine and plumbing require professionals with requisite training and experience) not sure who you think should be doing them but I am afraid to ask.

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  3. Posted by 867 on

    If housing and jobs were designed by inuit, everyone would be a hunter and live in a mansion with a 3 car garage.

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  4. Posted by Chesley on

    Obed is doing well to speak for indigenous, no seat at the table need be called out whenever and where ever it happens.

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    • Posted by friends on

      hurt feelings not being involved or the controls. all monies appear to need approval via ITK first and no matter what the funding is for. What gives? Trudeau and Obed “friends’?

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      • Posted by Deal or No Deal on

        Yeah by allowing Daddy Bucks lay the groundwork for the indigenous reconciliation programs and whatever on the file is making great progress. (Being spoon fed is the way to go then). That the launch has not had any indigenous input means indigenous aren’t in on the ground floor and that my freind is not where you want to be.

        • Posted by Let’s be accurate on

          The word you are looking for is Inuit, not Indigenous

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          • Posted by Okie from Muskogee on

            Indigenous and Reconciliation 1+1.

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