There have been a lot of warm of fuzzy feelings shared across Canada this past week. Canadians have been applauded for their welcoming nature as the first wave of Syrian refugees arrived to the country. Prime Minister Trudeau was on hand to welcome the refugees, which made international headlines and is combating the decade-long reputation of the Harper government.
This is not the only thing that the new Liberal government has done to separate themselves from their predecessors. Last week, the government announced the first phase for the national inquiry into the missing and murdered Indigenous women. Despite continual requests from First Nations communities and international human rights organizations, the Harper government neglected to initiate any kind of inquiry during its ten-year reign on Parliament Hill.
Trudeau’s willingness to repair relations with aboriginal Canadians should be appreciated by everyone in Canada. Our treatment of our Indigenous communities is one of the largest skeletons in our comparatively small closet. The effects of the residential school system impacted generations of families and can still be felt across Canada. And the thousands of murdered and missing Indigenous women have de-humanized an entire subset of the population. By not taking action, authorities were essentially saying their lives were valued less than others.
Yet, by finally taking action and making a plan for an inquiry, the federal government is showing they do care about Canada’s Indigenous communities and they hope to make amends.
“For Indigenous Peoples, life in Canada has not been – and it is not today – easy, equitable, or fair,” said Trudeau in his address to the House of Commons on Dec. 7. “We need such an inquiry to provide justice to the victims, to provide healing for the families and to ensure that as we go forward this tragedy is ended.”
While his message may be slightly optimistic, he is completely right and it is a step in the right direction; the direction Canadians need to take to be more empathetic towards each other and to provide safety for everyone, including Indigenous Peoples, refugees and citizens.
It’s hard to see the downside to repairing relations with Indigenous Peoples.
Everyone in Canada will benefit by strengthened relations, as it will ease tensions within communities across Canada, including the Elk Valley. I believe that the more peace there is in the community, the more potential it has to grow and thrive.
I was thrilled by the federal government’s announcement to pursue a national inquiry because I believe that big actions trickle down. What is done at a national level will be felt on a local one. It might not be immediate and it might not be easy, but I look forward to the changes in local communities as we work with authorities and Aboriginal communities on this issue. Even if there are no direct changes in the Elk Valley, our communities will benefit, and I’m so excited about that