Young people at this year’s edition of Indigenize the Senate were talking about more than the ceremony Wednesday in Ottawa.
Indigenize the Senate brings youth from all over the country to testify before the Senate committee on Aboriginal peoples and take part in a ceremony.
This year youth are talking about the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and the Senate’s delay in passing Bill C-262.
“With us being here today, being involved with Indigenize the Senate my concern wasn’t so much that the senators were listening to me, it was that the world was listening to me,” Mi’kmaw youth leader Richard Lush told APTN News.
“So with that bill in particular (Bill C-262.) I can’t say enough, that it’s so important it needs to be passed.”
(Richard Lush, left side 2nd row, and Karlee Johnson, behind Lush, say the Senate needs to pass Bill C-262. Photo: Amber Bernard/APTN)
The private member’s bill was introduced by Cree NDP MP Romeo Saganash in the House of Commons and sponsored by Senator Murray Sinclair in the Senate.
It is currently under scrutiny at the committee.
“We heard in some testimony yesterday that shows the bill was not crafted very well,” said Conservative Senator Scott Tannas.
The bill has support of the majority in the House of Commons.
The Conservatives voted against it. Two Conservatives MPs were heavily criticized for high-fiving after voting against the bill.
The Conservatives are blaming the Liberal government for stalling the bill in the Senate.
They’re demanding that the minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, and minister of Justice testify before the committee.
“Minister Bennett, Minister Lametti, the justice minister have refused to come and testify,” Tannas said.
“So we have real concerns.”
(Indigenize the Senate took place Wednesday in Ottawa. Photo: Amber Bernard/APTN)
The proposed legislation would ensure laws are in harmony with the rights of Indigenous people in Canada in accordance to UNDRIP.
The young people said that passing Bill C-262 is an important step towards creating a better country for everyone that includes Indigenous communities.
“It will truly provide a strong relationship between the government and Indigenous peoples,” Karlee Johnson, a youth leader from Eskasoni First Nation tells APTN.
“So if passed I truly believe that we can move forward in a strong and positive manner.”
The next meeting on bill C-262 will be held Wednesday evening.