This was an article originally published online with Global News Calgary.
Unless you attend a news conference or some other kind event where a politician is speaking, it’s not something you’ll likely see.
After thanking those in attendance for coming, an elected official will launch into what has become somewhat of a routine – a scripted line acknowledging that the land everyone is standing on is the traditional home to Canada’s indigenous people. In Calgary, it’s Treaty 7 land.
On Friday, federal Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr didn’t stick to the script.
Prior to announcing new funding for three cultural and community organizations in the city, Hehr used what has become a customary moment to reflect on the interaction between government and first people during the first 150 years of confederation.
“I would be remiss if I did not recognize that this announcement is happening on the traditional lands of the Blackfoot people, the Treaty 7 people,” Hehr started. “(They) have been here for centuries if not millennia.”
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with indigenous activists in Ottawa who erected a teepee in protest of Canada 150 celebrations.
On Thursday, he told a crowd in Charlottetown Canadians need to understand Canada has failed indigenous peoples for centuries and that he hears what the activists on Parliament Hill are saying.
Hehr told reporters building a stronger relationship with first peoples is a priority for the Liberals.
“How we go forward in the next 150 years is what we’re doing right now in Ottawa,” Hehr said. “(It’s) setting the tone for nation-to-nation relationships, making sure a kid who’s on a reserve has the same opportunities that people who born in our cities or in our towns across this nation.”
“This is not going to be easy, but we’re going to continue to do it bravely and boldly with a spirit of co-operation with our indigenous people.”
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