Appearance before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs (INAN) - Bill C-29, National Council for Reconciliation Act - October 6, 2022
- Scenario Note
- Opening remarks
- Issue Papers
- Additional materials
The House of Commons Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs (INAN) will be meeting on Thursday, October 6, 2022, from 4:00 to 5:30 pm to study Bill C-29. This will be the first meeting on the bill. The Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, along with departmental officials will be appearing in person. Partners and stakeholders will appear at subsequent meetings. An overview of this process is outlined below.
Subject: Bill C-29, National Council for Reconciliation Act – Appearance before INAN Committee
Date: October 6, 2022
Time: 4:00 to 5:30 pm
Location: West Block, House of Commons
- The Hon. Marc Miller, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations
- Kate Ledgerwood, Director General, Policy and Strategic Direction, Reconciliation Secretariat
- Andy Garrow, Director - Policy and Strategic Direction, Reconciliation Secretariat, Planning and Partnerships
- Seetal Sunga, Senior Counsel, Department of Justice Canada
Minister Miller, accompanied by departmental officials, will attend in-person.
- The appearance will be for 1.5 hours.
- The Minister, supported by departmental officials, will appear in-person for the first hour from 4:00 to 5:30 pm. He will provide opening remarks of five minutes and then answer committee member questions.
- Departmental officials will remain in person for the remaining half hour and will answer Committee member questions.
The Minister and departmental officials will be invited to sit at the table by the Chair or the Clerk of the Committee.
The Committee Chair will open the meeting and provide instructions for the meeting proceedings. The Chair will then introduce all witnesses and invite the Minister to deliver remarks. This will be followed by a question and answer session. At the end of the first hour, the Chair will suspend the meeting momentarily to allow the Minister to depart. The meeting will then resume with a Q&A session with officials only for a half hour.
Committee members will pose questions in the following order respectively:
- First round (6 minutes for each Party)
- Conservative Party of Canada
- Liberal Party of Canada
- Bloc Québécois
- New Democratic Party of Canada
- Second and subsequent rounds
- Conservative Party of Canada (5 minutes)
- Liberal Party of Canada (5 minutes)
- Bloc Québécois (2.5 minutes)
- New Democratic Party of Canada (2.5 minutes)
- Conservative Party of Canada (5 minutes)
- Liberal Party of Canada (5 minutes)
While simultaneous translation will be available, witnesses are asked to respond to questions in either language but to limit switching back and forth between languages as this often creates technology/interpretation challenges.
It is also recommended that witnesses speak at a moderate pace and at an appropriate volume, to facilitate interpretation.
The meeting can be watched via Parlvu. Note that there could be a slight delay (seconds to approximately 1 minute) between the live proceedings and the webcast.
Speech for the Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations
Opening Remarks for the Standing Committee
on Indigenous and Northern Affairs (INAN)
Bill C-29, National Council for Reconciliation Act
October 6, 2022
Kwe kwe, Ullukkut [Ood-loo-koot], Tansi, hello, bonjour!
I would like to acknowledge before I begin that Canada's Parliament is located on the unceded traditional territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabeg people.
I would also like to thank the Chair and the Committee for inviting me to appear today to speak about Bill C-29, An Act to provide for the establishment of a national council for reconciliation.
I look forward to answering any questions the Committee might have, because strengthening this bill and ensuring it moves forward is a priority for me and the Government.
As members of the Committee know, time is passing quickly for residential school Survivors. They and their families are getting older, and sadly, many Survivors, Elders and Knowledge Keepers have already passed away.
We marked the second National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30th, and Canadians across the country came together in their orange shirts to acknowledge, and continue to learn about, the legacy of the residential schools and the intergenerational impacts on Indigenous Peoples.
But beyond the orange shirts, there is still a lot of work to do. We need to make tangible progress on reconciliation.
As the Committee knows, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its final report and Calls to Action seven years ago.
Among those Calls to Action was number 53, which called on the Parliament of Canada to establish a National Council for Reconciliation. And Calls to Action 54, 55 and 56 which expanded on the roles, responsibilities, and expectations for the Council and various levels of government.
Essentially, these Calls to Action are saying that as a country, we need to measure our progress on reconciliation. We need to be held accountable for our promises to Indigenous Peoples. As Canadians, all of us need to be engaged.
That is why it is important that the Board of the National Council for Reconciliation be diverse and reflective of all Indigenous Peoples in Canada—which would be achieved through a collaborative approach.
If the Bill is passed, I, as the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, would collaborate with the Transitional Committee to appoint the first Board of Directors. The Council would establish a process to nominate and elect future board directors, in accordance with the legislation.
In terms of how the Council's first board of directors will be selected: this is stipulated in the bill.
The board would be comprised of nine to thirteen directors, at least two thirds of whom are Indigenous. Three directors must be nominated by the Assembly of First Nations, the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Métis National Council respectively.
These criteria would apply to the first board as well as to future boards once the Council is incorporated.
Over time, the board would include representation from First Nations, Inuit, Métis, Indigenous organizations, youth, women, men, gender diverse persons and various regions in Canada, including urban, rural, and remote regions.
Mr. Chair, it is important to understand that the government does not own or dictate this process. As you can see, this is a collaboration—and it has been since the very beginning, as this bill was co-developed by Indigenous Peoples.
Indeed, Indigenous Peoples lead the Interim Board and the Transitional Committee, and they provided independent advice and recommendations that were instrumental in shaping Bill C-29.
To take one example of those recommendations—the decision to set up the Council as a not-for-profit entity.
Incorporating the National Council for Reconciliation as a not-for-profit organization under the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act utilizes existing legislation to set-up the Council. Moreover, it enables the Council to be an incorporated and legal entity that operates completely independent from Government. This would give the Council legal status under the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act and would allow the Council to, for example, enter into contracts and have bank accounts in its own name. This would be helpful given the endowment for the Council. It may also have benefits for the Council in terms of stability, continuity and how it is perceived by other organizations.
The establishment of the Council has been an Indigenous-led process from the start. The Truth and Reconciliation Commissioners crossed the country, hosting National Events along with regional and community hearings. Through their engagement and listening to survivors, the Commissioners developed the original vision for the Council. From their engagement they provided the basis for a draft legislative framework, which has informed the Bill we are discussing today.
So many people contributed to the development of this legislation and unfortunately with five minutes I can't thank them all here. I am grateful to the TRC Commissioners, the Interim Board members, the Transitional Committee members, Survivors, families, and all Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples who participated in the engagement process. They had their say, and in doing so, they shaped this important legislation.
I would be happy to respond to any of the committee's questions.
Meegwetch. Qujannamiik [Koo-ya-na-meek]. Marsee. Thank you. Merci.
In 2016, the Government of Canada committed to the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's 94 Calls to Action from their final report. Calls to Action 53-56 direct the Government to establish a National Council for Reconciliation (the Council). Call to Action 53 calls for the creation of a National Council for Reconciliation through legislation and Call to Action 54 calls for multi-year funding for the Council, including an endowment. Call to Action 55 relates to the provision of information to the Council and Call to Action 56 calls on the Government of Canada to formally respond to the Council's annual report.
In December 2017, the Government of Canada announced the creation of an Interim Board of Indigenous leaders to provide advice on options for the creation of the Council. The Interim Board included Dr. Wilton Littlechild, who was a former Truth and Reconciliation Commissioner, Mitch Case, Edith Cloutier, Rosemary Cooper and Dr. Michael DeGagné. From December 2017 to June 2018, the Interim Board directors engaged with Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians and organizations to discuss and receive feedback on the Council's mandate, roles and responsibilities. The Interim Board presented their final report to the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations in June 2018. The recommendations formed the basis for a draft legislative framework that was prepared by the Department of Justice for consultation purposes and guided next steps.
One Interim Board recommendation was to establish a Transitional Committee (Committee) to continue advancing the Council, including reviewing the draft legislative framework to ensure that the proposed vision and functions recommended by the Interim Board were supported. To ensure continuity, the Committee included three directors from the Interim Board, including the former Truth and Reconciliation Commissioner. The Committee began their work in December 2021 with an inaugural meeting with the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations. During their meeting, the committee strongly supported an expedited approach to establish the National Council for Reconciliation out of respect for Residential School Survivors and their families. The Committee met regularly from January to March 2022, engaging with Indigenous and non-Indigenous technical experts, and presented their recommendations to the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations on the legislative framework in March 2022.
Key elements of the proposed bill
The recommendations of the Interim Board and Transitional Committee formed the basis for the proposed bill. Key elements of the bill include: the establishment of the Council under the Canada Not-for Profit Corporations Act; the purpose and functions of the Council as an independent, Indigenous-led organization advancing reconciliation in Canada; the establishment and composition of the Council's Board of Directors; the development of a protocol regarding the disclosure of information to the Council, the release of an annual report by the Council to be tabled in Parliament, followed by a response from the Government outlining plans for advancing reconciliation; and the provision of a financial report by the Council.
The proposed bill is consistent with the Government of Canada's commitments to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act which came into force in June 2021. Like these documents, Bill C-29 has as its focus advancing lasting reconciliation, healing and cooperation among Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada.
Next steps towards reconciliation
Following Royal Assent, the Council will be incorporated under the Canada Not-for Profit Corporations Act. Once incorporated, the first board will take all necessary steps to stand up the Council (e.g., developing bylaws, hiring an Executive Director, and making financial and banking arrangements). Once fully established, the Council will be an independent voice promoting and monitoring progress towards reconciliation, including Canada's implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action.
- Clause 1
- This clause indicates that the Act may be cited as the National Council for Reconciliation Act (short title).
- Clause 2(1)
- This clause provides the definitions that apply in this Act.
- Clause 2(2)
- This clause ensures that, in the event of any inconsistency between this Act and the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act, this Act prevails to the extent of the inconsistency.
- Clause 3
- This clause states that the transitional committee must send articles of incorporation and other documents to Corporations Canada, in accordance with the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act, to effect incorporation.
- Clause 4
- This clause states that this Council is not an agent of Her Majesty in right of Canada nor is it governed by the Financial Administration Act.
- Clause 5
- This clause provides for the Council to be deemed to be a qualified donee within the meaning of the Income Tax Act.
- Clause 6
- This clause describes the purpose of the Council, which is to advance efforts for reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.
- Clause 7
- This clause describes the various functions of the Council to carry out its purpose.
- Clause 8
- This clause describes how the first board of directors is selected by the Minister in collaboration with the Transitional Committee.
- Clause 9
- This clause indicates that the Council's board of directors is to be composed of a minimum of nine and a maximum of 13 directors.
- Clause 10 (1)
This clause requires that the board of directors include
- one director who may only be elected after having been nominated by the Assembly of First Nations;
- one director who may only be elected after having been nominated by Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami; and
- one director who may only be elected after having been nominated by the Métis National Council.
- Clause 10 (2)
- This clause indicates that, if there is a vacancy among the directors, the remaining directors may exercise all the powers of the directors if they constitute a quorum (e.g., according to the corporation's bylaws).
- Clause 10 (3)
- This clause indicates that the other directors are to be elected following an application process to be established by the board of directors.
- Clause 11
- This clause requires that at least two thirds of the directors must be Indigenous persons.
- Clause 12
- This clause describes the representativeness to be included on the Council, to the extent possible, by its fifth anniversary of incorporation.
- Clause 13
- This clause indicates that each director must have knowledge and experience with respect to matters related to Indigenous peoples and other matters related to the Council's purpose.
- Clause 14
- This clause indicates that directors are to hold office for any term of not more than four years with a maximum of two terms, and to ensure not more than one-third of the directors' terms expire within one year's time.
- Clause 15
- This clause indicates that each director of the Council is to be elected by a special resolution, as defined in the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act.
- Clause 16
- This clause requires the Minister to develop a protocol in collaboration with the Council respecting the disclosure by the Government of Canada to the Council of information that is relevant to the Council's purpose.
- Clause 17
- This clause requires that the Council, within six months after the end of each financial year, submit to the Minister an annual report. The Minister must then table a copy of the report in Parliament within 15 days of the House sitting after the report has been received. Finally, the Minister must, within 120 days of the report being tabled, publish an annual report on the state of Indigenous peoples that outlines the Government of Canada's plans for advancing reconciliation.
- Clause 18 (1) and (2)
- This clause describes the Council's required financial reporting.
- Clause 19
- This clause describes the distribution of property in the event of the dissolution of the Council.
- Clause 20
- This clause indicates that the Act comes into force on a day to be fixed by order of the Governor in Council.
Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Between 2007 and 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) worked to facilitate reconciliation among former Residential School students, their families, their communities and all Canadians. The TRC Commissioners were:
- The Honourable Murray Sinclair (Chair)
- Dr. Wilton Littlechild
- Dr. Marie Wilson
The TRC hosted seven national events across Canada and conducted more than 6,500 interviews.
In 2015, the TRC presented its final report, including 94 "Calls to Action" to further reconciliation between Indigenous Peoples and Canadians.
Calls to Action 53 and 54 call for the creation of a National Council for Reconciliation:
- Call to Action 53 – that the Parliament of Canada, in consultation and collaboration with Indigenous peoples, enact legislation to establish a National Council for Reconciliation.
- Call to Action 54 – that the Government of Canada provide multi-year funding for the National Council for Reconciliation, including the endowment of a National Reconciliation Trust.
Calls to Action 55 and 56 further clarifies their expectations for the Council and various levels of government:
- Calls to Action 55 – that all levels of government provide annual reports, or any current data requested by the National Council for Reconciliation so that it can report on the progress towards reconciliation.
- Calls to Action 56 – that the Prime Minister of Canada formally respond to the report of the National Council for Reconciliation by issuing an annual "State of Indigenous Peoples" report.
The Government of Canada was committed to an Indigenous-led approach to the establishment of the Council. In 2018, the Government of Canada and the TRC created an Interim Board of Indigenous leaders to define the scope and scale of the mandate of the Council.
The Interim Board directors included:
- Dr. Wilton Littlechild
- Edith Cloutier
- Clint Davis
- Dr. Mike DeGagné
- Max FineDay
- Jean Teillet
The inclusion of former TRC Commissioner Dr. Wilton Littlechild provided important continuity. The Interim Board presented a final report in June 2018 with recommendations regarding the Council's vision, mission, mandate, structure, membership, funding, reporting, and legislation.
As recommended by the Interim Board, the Government of Canada established the Indigenous-led Transitional Committee (Committee) for the Council in 2018.
The Committee includes three directors from the Interim Board, including Dr. Wilton Littlechild, and began its work in December 2021 with their inaugural meeting.
The Committee members are:
- Mitch Case
- Edith Cloutier
- Rosemary Cooper
- Dr. Mike DeGagné
- Dr. Wilton Littlechild
The Committee reviewed a draft legislative framework developed by the Department of Justice based on the Interim Board's recommendations. The Committee convened engagement sessions with various experts to refine their understanding of key elements such as governance, finances, and government accountability. The Committee provided their recommendations in March 2022.
The proposed legislation responds to the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions' Calls to Action 53-56 and the recommendations of the Interim Board and Transitional Committee. Bill C-29 was introduced in the House of Commons in June 2022.
Bill C-29 is the result of recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and engagement that started with the Interim Board and then the Transitional Committee for the establishment of a National Council for Reconciliation. There is a strong thread of continuity that is apparent in the content of the proposed legislation.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Following their engagements across the country, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission called for the creation of a National Council for Reconciliation. They envisioned an independent, Indigenous-led national oversight body with sufficient funding (Calls to Action 53 and 54), and access to relevant information to carry out its work (Call to Action 55). They also envisioned that the Council would prepare an annual report outlining the government's progress on implementing the Calls to Action, and that the Government of Canada would respond to it with a report outlining its plans to advance reconciliation (Call to Action 56).
The Interim Board directors were Governor-in-Council appointments responsible for providing advice to the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations on establishing a National Council for Reconciliation.
Interim Board Engagement
During its engagement event in April 2018, the Interim Board met with stakeholders and obtained their views on the mandate of the Council, legislation, scope of the Council and long-term reconciliation. The Interim Board carefully considered what they heard at the engagement event in developing their Final Report.
The engagement event included community members, academics, business, arts and health professionals and other interested parties. Each director of the Interim Board reached out to additional individuals to get their views on the establishment of the National Council for Reconciliation.
A web-based platform, hosted by the department now known as Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, was set up to capture Canadians' views on reconciliation. Interested individuals were asked to provide their thoughts on the mandate of the future National Council on Reconciliation and what should the first steps be to get to long-term reconciliation. Although the site drew limited interest, the responses were positive, indicating that Canadians supported the establishment of a National Council for Reconciliation.
Finally, the Interim Board reached out in writing to the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Métis National Council, and self-governing nations seeking input on the mandate of the National Council for Reconciliation.
In June 2018, the Interim Board of Directors presented its final report to the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations which contained recommendations relating to the vision, mission, mandate, structure, membership, funding, reporting, and the legislation of the National Council for Reconciliation.
Some key recommendations on the vision, mission, principles and mandate include that the Council:
- be established through legislation;
- address Calls to Action 53-56;
- be a strengths-based and innovative force for reconciliation;
- be independent and permanent;
- research, monitor, evaluate and report on reconciliation; and
- be a catalyst for innovative thought, dialogue and action.
The Interim Board also made recommendations for implementation including that:
- the Transitional Committee be created to support next steps;
- that the legislation be co-drafted; and
- that there be further outreach and engagement.
The Department of Justice prepared a draft legislative framework for consultative purposes based on the Interim Board's recommendations.
The Transitional Committee for the National Council for Reconciliation was established and launched in December 2021. The members were appointed by the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations. The Committee reviewed the draft legislative framework and considered ways to improve it to ensure a strong and effective Council.
Transitional Committee Engagement
Building on the Interim Board's engagement activities in 2018, the Transitional Committee carried out target engagements with Indigenous and non-Indigenous experts, including lawyers, data specialists, and financial and reconciliation experts in March 2022. Feedback and advice were received in confidence in areas such as reconciliation, law, data, organizational finances, information sharing, governance and accountability. This feedback informed the Committee's recommendations.
Transitional Committee Recommendations
In March 2022, the Transitional Committee presented its final report which contained recommendations relating to the legislation of the National Council for Reconciliation.
The Transitional Committee made recommendations on how to strengthen the draft legislative framework, while maintaining the vision, purpose and mandate of the Council as envisioned by the Interim Board. They worked to ensure that, to the extend possible, the legislation would address Calls to Action 53-56.
In March 2022, the Transitional Committee reiterated their strong preference for an expedited approach to this legislation. Bill C- 29 was introduced in the House of Commons in June 2022.
Engagement (extensive overview)
Q. What engagement has been done to inform the development of Bill C-29?
A. Bill C-29 was developed based on Calls to Action 53-56 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (the Commission), which were developed following extensive engagement by the Commission across the country with residential school survivors and their families. The Calls to Action provide the overarching framework for this legislation to establish the National Council for Reconciliation.
The Bill is also based on the advice of the independent Indigenous-led Interim Board for the National Council for Reconciliation. The Interim Board contacted the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Métis National Council for written submissions; however the responses were limited. They hosted a vibrant national engagement event in April 2018 with 25 community members, academics, business, arts and health professionals and other interested parties in attendance. Each participant brought their perspectives which helped shape and inform the Interim Board's thinking. Although CIRNAC hosted a public website and encouraged stakeholders to provide additional input, limited feedback was obtained. Input from self-governing nations was not formally requested outside the above processes.
Based on what they learned, the Interim Board further outlined the vision, purpose structure and functions of the Council. The Interim Board's Final Report was sent to the three National Indigenous Organizations and all the participants of the April engagement event, and was made available to the general public on the CIRNAC website in June 2018.
The Transitional Committee, recognizing the urgency felt by many residential school survivors and their families, and recognizing the engagement by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Interim Board, took a targeted approach to engagement. In March 2022, they hosted an event with Indigenous and non-Indigenous technical experts to discuss key considerations that could be included in the legislation, such as information sharing. These engagements helped to strengthen Bill C-29 and ensure that the Council will be able to achieve its goals.
If Pressed on Additional Engagement:
The vision for engaging other key stakeholders, Indigenous governments and organizations and other levels of government, has been identified as a role for the Council to undertake once it is established. This includes discussing the roles that Provinces and Territories will have with the Council and how they will respond to Council inquiries, reports and recommendations.
We are pleased with the level of engagement that has been undertaken by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Interim Board and the Transitional Committee. We are grateful for their personal commitment to this work and to the engagement they have undertaken for the development of this Bill. We are also supportive of future engagement work that the Council will undertake to establish its operations and to grow as an organization.
Q. Why is the Council going to be established using the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act?
A. Incorporating the National Council for Reconciliation (the Council) as a not-for-profit organization under the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act utilizes existing legislation to set-up the Council and have it operate as a legal entity. It may also have benefits for the Council in terms of stakeholder perceptions of stability, sustainability and credibility. The Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Acts provides the framework within which the Council will be able to determine its priorities, governance structures and operational procedures.
Building on this base, Bill C-29 is intended to ensure the vision for the Council as an independent Indigenous-led and inclusive organization with a mandate to advance reconciliation in Canada is sustained over time.
Establishment of the Council
Q. How will the first board of the National Council for Reconciliation's be established?
A. Bill C-29 stipulates that the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, in collaboration with the Indigenous-led Transitional Committee for the Council, will select the first directors. In doing so, the Minister must also take into account the relevant clauses in the Bill. The requirements for the board of directors in the Bill are based on recommendations from the Interim Board and the Transitional Committee, and are intended to ensure a plurality of non-political voices from across the country are represented on the board over time.The Transitional Committee has been active in discussions for the first board and these discussions are ongoing. The Minister may ask the Transitional Committee members to serve on the first board to benefit from their experience and knowledge.
Representation on the Council
Q. How will the Council be representative of Indigenous Peoples in Canada now and in the future?
A. The Bill indicates that there will be nine to 13 directors, that three will be nominated by the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Métis National Council respectively, and include representation of First Nations, Inuit and Métis, other peoples in Canada, Indigenous organizations, youth, women, men and gender-diverse persons, and various regions of Canada, including urban, rural and remote regions.
The process for ensuring balance over time will be developed by the Council through its by-laws. The balance on the board will vary as directors finish their terms and new directors are elected.
Information sharing and reporting
Q. What has been done to address Call to Action 55 regarding information sharing?
A. The Bill addresses Call to Action 55 by requiring that the Minister develop, in collaboration with the Council, an information sharing protocol in order to ensure that the Council may carry out its functions. The information sharing protocol has advantages over a legislated set of required information, such as being able to evolve over time to meet the information needs of the Council. It can also ensure that the Council receives information in an accessible way that will meet their needs.
Q. What has been done to address Call to Acton 56 regarding the Council's report and the Government's response?
A. The Bill requires the Council to prepare an annual report on the state of reconciliation, including their recommendations for advancing reconciliation. This report will be tabled in Parliament. To address Call to Action 56, the Bill requires the Government to respond to the Council's report by publishing an annual report on the state of Indigenous peoples that outlines the Government of Canada's plans for advancing reconciliation.
Role and Jurisdiction of the Council
Q. How will the Council work with different jurisdictions?
A. The Council would serve as an independent, Indigenous-led oversight body that monitors and evaluates progress on reconciliation actions, including the implementation of the Calls to Actions, at all levels of government and throughout Canadian society. The Council would make recommendations to promote, prioritize and coordinate efforts, and would support innovative dialogues and education on Indigenous peoples' realities and histories.
Bill C-29 places obligations on the Government of Canada to develop an information sharing protocol, to table the Council's annual report in Parliament, and to publish a report on the state of Indigenous peoples in response and that outlines the Government of Canada's plans for advancing reconciliation. The Bill does not include any obligations for provincial, territorial or municipal governments. The Council will be responsible for developing relationships with the these levels of government as well as other organizations across the country.
United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP)
Q. Does Bill C-29 respect the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples?
A. Bill C-29 was reviewed and found to be consistent with the United Nations Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act. This proposed legislation is expected to create positive outcomes for Indigenous Peoples and is not expected to negatively impact any rights.
Further, through this legislation, the Government affirms its commitment to implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Right of Indigenous Peoples as part of the preamble for Bill C-29.
Funding and financial reporting
Q. Please provide more information about the Council's funding and the financial reporting requirements.
A. Budget 2019 announced a total of $126.5 million to support the establishment of the Council. This includes an investment of $125 million to be used for an endowment and a $1.5 million to support its initial operations.
Bill C-29 includes clauses obligating the Council to make public the documents and information that are required by the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act and a detailed statement of the Council's investment activities during the year, its investment portfolio at the end of that year, and its management of funds that it has received during the year. The information required by the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act must be subject to audit.
The Council moving forward
Q. What are the coming steps for the Council moving forward?
A. Once Bill C-29 passes, the Transitional Committee will take the necessary steps to ensure the National Council for Reconciliation will be incorporated under the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act.
The Council's directors will then proceed with the necessary steps to fully operationalize the Council, including, for example, hiring an Executive Director. The Bill requires that the Council develop and implement a national action plan. How they go about their work as an independent organization will be up to them; however, it is expected that they will continue engagements with Indigenous organizations, various levels of government, and different sectors as they chart their path forward.
Public statements in support of the Council
Statements by the Transitional Committee Members
"This council will […] encourage and recognize good work as it pertains to that sort of relational reconciliation."
"The [Council] will be an important tool for Indigenous Peoples to hold the government accountable to achieving meaningful change for our peoples".
Statements by Members of Parliament
"Our party will support Bill C-29 and [will be proposing amendments at Committee Stage]."
"We see specifically that Bill C-29 would respond to the TRC Calls to Action 53 through 56. I would like to share my support for the fact that we are taking action […]"
"This bill works towards [supporting Indigenous communities] and that and it is one reason why we will support it."
"We support the passing of this bill to help support Indigenous-led reconciliation. Bill C-29 would offer support in facing what has happened here in Canada."
"The New Democrats will support this bill [and will propose amendments at Committee Stage]."
Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs (INAN)
44th Parliament, 1st Session
Committee Member Biographies
The Hon. Marc Garneau, Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Westmount, QC INAN Chair
Born in Quebec City, Quebec, the Honourable Marc Garneau was first elected to the House of Commons in 2008, and re-elected in 2011, 2015, 2019, and 2021.
Mr. Garneau graduated from the Royal Military College of Canada in 1970 with a Bachelor of Science in engineering physics and began his career in the Canadian Forces Maritime Command. In 1973 he received a PhD in electrical engineering from the Imperial College of Science and Technology in London, England.
From 1982 to 1983, he attended the Canadian Forces Command and Staff College in Toronto. While there, he was promoted to the rank of commander and was subsequently promoted to captain(N). Mr. Garneau retired from the Canadian Forces in 1989.
Mr. Garneau was also one of the first six Canadian Astronauts and he became the first Canadian in outer space in October 1984. In February 2001, he was appointed executive vice-president of the Canadian Space Agency and became its president in November 2001.
Mr. Garneau was Minister of Transport from 2015-2021 and Minister of Foreign Affairs January-October 2021. Mr. Garneau is currently not in Cabinet.
Jamie Schmale, Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON
Critic for Indigenous Services; Vice-Chair INAN
Born in Brampton, ON, Jamie Schmale was elected to the House of Commons for the first time in 2015, and re-elected in 2019 and 2021.
Prior to his election, Mr. Schmale served as the executive assistant and campaign manager for former Conservative MP Barry Devolin (Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock, Ontario). He graduated from the Radio Broadcasting program at Loyalist College in Ontario and started his career as a news anchor. He later became a news director for CHUM media.
Mr. Schmale was the critic for Crown-Indigenous Relations in the 43rd Parliament. In the 42nd Parliament, Mr. Schmale served as the opposition critic for Northern Economic Development, and Deputy Critic for Natural Resources. He was a member of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs (2015-2017) and the Standing Committee on Natural Resources (2017-2019).
Currently, Mr. Schmale serves as the critic for Indigenous Services.
Marilène Gill, Manicouagan, QC Critic Indigenous and Northern Affairs; Vice-Chair INAN
Born in Sorel, QC, Marilène Gill was first elected to the House of Commons in 2015, and was re-elected in 2019 and 2021.
Prior to her election, Mrs. Gill was teaching at the college level and pursuing doctoral studies in literature. Her background also includes roles as a unionist, development officer, coordinator of the Table de concertation en condition feminine de la Côte-Nord. She is also involved in the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec (CALQ). She has also acted as literary director for Éditions Trois-Pistoles, and has published personal works there for which she has received several awards and grants. Mrs. Gill was also political attaché to Michel Guimond, former member and chief whip of the Bloc Québécois.
Mrs. Gill is deputy whip, chair of the Young Families Caucus and critic for Indigenous and Northern Affairs for the Bloc Québécois.
Jenica Atwin, Fredericton, NB
Jenica Atwin grew up in Oromocto, NB. She was first elected to the House of Commons in 2019 as a Member of the Green Party before joining the Liberal Party in June 2021.
Mrs. Atwin completed a Master's in Education at the University of New Brunswick.
Prior to being elected, she was an education consultant and researcher at a First Nations Education Centre. In 2016, she co-organized a spin-off of We Day focused on introducing First Nations youth to one another and helping those who have recently moved off of reserves.
She is a new member of INAN. She previously served on the COVID-19 Pandemic Committee.
Jaime Battiste, Sydney—Victoria, NS Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations
Born on the Eskasoni First Nation, NS, Jaime Battiste was elected to the House of Commons in 2019 and re-elected in 2021. He is the first Mi'kmaw Member of Parliament in Canada.
Mr. Battiste graduated from Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University in 2004. He has held positions as a Professor, Senior Advisor, Citizenship Coordinator, and as a Regional Chief for the Assembly of First Nations.
Mr. Battiste's volunteer work over the years involves athletics, youth advocacy, community events, and advocacy for the Mi'kmaq Nation. He is a member of the Aboriginal Sport Circle and a part owner of the Eskasoni Junior B Eagles.
Mr. Battiste served as a representative to the Assembly of First Nation's National Youth Council from 2001-2006. In 2005, the National Aboriginal Healing Organization named him as one of the "National Aboriginal Role Models in Canada." In 2006, as the Chair of the Assembly of First Nations Youth Council, he was one of the founding members of the Mi'kmaw Maliseet Atlantic Youth Council (MMAYC), an organization that represents and advocates for Mi'kmaw and Maliseet youth within the Atlantic region. In 2018, Mr. Battiste was recognized with the Sovereign's Medal for Volunteers, which is a Canadian decoration to honour volunteers who have made significant and continual contributions to their community.
Mr. Battiste was named Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations in December 2021.
He has been a member of INAN since February 2020 and has previously been a member of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans.
Michael V. Mcleod, Northwest Territories, NWT
Born in Fort Providence, NWT, Michael Mcleod was first elected to the House of Commons in 2015 and re-elected in 2019 and 2021.
Prior to entering federal politics, Mr. McLeod served Northwest Territories residents as a member of the Legislative Assembly from 1999-2011 and advised clients in the tourism industry as Tourism Development Officer for the Government of the Northwest Territories. He also previously served as mayor of Fort Providence, president of his Métis Local, and vice-president of Deh Cho Regional Council.
Mr. McLeod earned a diploma in Management Studies from Arctic College and began his career as a self-employed contractor. He has been a member of the Northwest Territories Tourism, NWT Public Utilities, and Mackenzie Valley Environment Impact Review Boards. The latter's mission, conducting fair and timely environmental assessments, remains a key interest.
Mr. McLeod was previously a member of INAN 2016-2017 and has served as a member of the Standing Committee on Finance and as Chair of the Arctic and Northern Caucus.
Marcus Powlowski, Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON
Born in Fort William, ON, Marcus Powlowski was first elected to the House of Commons in 2019 and re-elected in 2021.
Prior to being elected, Mr. Powlowski served as a physician in the Emergency Room at Thunder Bay Regional Health Science Centre. In addition to being a medical doctor, he has two law degrees - LL.B, LL.M from the universities of Toronto and Georgetown, respectively. He also attended Harvard University and obtained a Masters of Public Health in Health Law and Policy.
Mr. Powlowski worked as a doctor for two years in northern First Nations communities, and for seven years practicing medicine in several developing countries in Africa and Oceania. For several years, he worked as a consultant in health legislation for the World Health Organization. He also volunteered on a medical project in Ethiopia.
Mr. Powlowski has been a member of INAN since February 2020 and currently also sits on the Standing Committee of Health. Previously, he sat on the COVID-19 Pandemic Committee.
Patrick Weiler, West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC
Born in West Vancouver, BC, Patrick Weiler was first elected to Parliament in 2019 and re-elected in 2021.
Prior to his election, Mr. Weiler was an advocate for safeguarding the environment as an environmental and natural resource management lawyer, representing First Nations, small businesses, municipalities, and non-profit organizations in Canada and internationally. Mr. Weiler has also worked in partnership with the United Nations and international development agencies, with a mission to improve the governance of natural resources and management of aquatic ecosystems.
Mr. Weiler completed a Bachelor of Arts at McGill University and received his Juris Doctor degree from the University of British Columbia's Faculty of Law.
Mr. Weiler has been a member of INAN since December 2021. He is also currently member of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development. Previously, Mr. Weiler served on the Standing Committee on Natural Resources, the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates, and the bi-partisan Climate Caucus and Tourism Caucus.
Martin Shields, Bow River, AB Deputy Critic Minister for Indigenous Services
Born in Lethbridge, AB, Martin Shields was first elected to the House of Commons in 2015, and reelected in 2019 and 2021.
Prior to his election to the House of Commons, Mr. Shields served as a teacher and administrator for 30 years and a part-time university instructor for 20 years. He has served as Mayor and Councilor of the City of Brooks, Board member and vice chair of the Palliser Regional Health Board, Shortgrass Regional Library, Alberta Provincial Library Trustees Association, Bow River Basin Council, as well as a Director and Vice President of the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association.
He has previously served as the Director of Strathmore-Brooks Alberta Conservative Constituency Association and is a past President of the Medicine Hat Federal Conservative Constituency Association.
He has served on several committees, including the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, and the Standing Committee on the Status of Women. He also served as vice chair of the CPC-Alberta MP Caucus.
Mr. Shields is currently the CPC deputy critic for Indigenous Services.
Shannon Stubbs, Lakeland, AB
Born in Chipman, AB, Shannon Stubbs was first elected to Parliament in 2015, and re-elected in 2019 and 2021.
Prior to her election, she worked for several years in the Oil Sands Business Unit in the Alberta Department of Energy and in the International Offices and Trade Division of Alberta Economic Development. She was then a Senior Consultant with Hill+Knowlton Canada where she advocated for clients across the health and pharmaceutical, oil and gas, not for profit and charity, and education sectors. She also contributed to a successful initiative for the expansion of energy trades and technology education and apprenticeship training with Government and Community Relations at SAIT Polytechnic.
Mrs. Stubbs is a new member of INAN. She previously served as the Critic for Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, and as Critic for Natural Resources. She was the Vice Chair of the Standing Committees on Public Safety and National Security, Natural Resources, and the Special Select Standing Committee for Pay Equity.
Gary Vidal, Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK Critic for Crown-Indigenous Relations
Born in Meadow Lake, SK, Gary Vidal was elected to the House of Commons for the first time in 2019 and re-elected in 2021.
Prior to his election, Mr. Vidal served as Mayor of Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan from 2011 to 2019. He studied at the University of Saskatchewan and Briercrest Bible College. He is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA, CGA) and is a partner in the accounting firm Pliska Vidal & Co. since 1988. He was also Vice Chair of Saskatchewan City Mayors' Caucus from 2016 to 2018. He was a member of the SaskWater Board of Directors from 2008 to 2017. In this position, he also served as Chair of the Governance and Corporate Responsibility Committee, Chair of the Audit and Finance Committee, and Chair of the Board from 2015 to 2017.
Mr. Vidal has volunteered in a variety of leadership capacities in his local church as well as on the board of Bethel Gospel Camp, an interdenominational children's bible camp. Other volunteer activities include coaching and managing minor hockey, baseball, and soccer teams. In 2012, he was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.
Mr. Vidal previously served as the critic for Indigenous Services, and is currently the critic for Crown-Indigenous Relations. He has been a member of INAN since February 2020 and also sat on the Special Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic during the last Parliament (2019-2021).
Lori Idlout, Nunavut, NV Critic – Northern Affairs; Critic – Indigenous Services; Critic – Crown-Indigenous Relations
Born in Igloolik, NU, Lori Idlout was first elected to the House of Commons in 2021.
Prior to her election Ms. Idlout practiced law in Iqaluit with her own firm, Qusugaq Law. She represented the group protesting against the Baffinland Iron Mine's expansion, as well as serving as the technical adviser for the Ikajutit Hunters and Trappers Organization during a public hearing on the issue. Between 2004 and 2011, Ms. Idlout served as the executive director of the Nunavut Embrace Life Council, a not-for-profit organization committed to suicide prevention. She had previously worked for Nunavut's Department of Health and Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated as a policy analyst, and was the founder of Coalition of Nunavut DEAs as a director of the Iqaluit District Education Authority in order to advocate for educational services.
Ms. Idlout received a bachelor's degree in psychology from Lakehead University in 1997, and a doctorate in law from the University of Ottawa (2018).
She is a new member of INAN and the NDP critic for Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, and Indigenous Services.
Thank you for your feedback